Assess the Marxist View That the Main Role of the Family Is to Serve the Interests of Capitalism
Assess the Marxist view that the main role of the family is to serve the interests of capitalism. There are many different perspectives of the family. Each different view sees different things as the main role of the family.
Marxists view the family in a very belittled manner. They believe that the main role of the family is to serve the interests of capitalism and bourgeoisie. They also believe that the family cushions the main provider. Marx’s views on the capitalist mode of production highlights the exploitative nature of the eco system.
He displays how the middle class take advantage of the working class and their labour; the working class are a tool used to create profit and to keep profit at a reasonable level. Marx argues that the monogamous middle class nuclear family developed to help them solve the problem of the inheritance of private property. The men needed to know who their children were in order to pass on their property to their heirs. The family was therefore thought to be by Marxists as designed to control women and protect property.
The Middle class nuclear family is emerged with capitalism. It is patriarchal as designed to guarantee and encourage male power through the inheritance of property. It therefore serves the interests of capitalism. Marxists would argue that families are a unit of reproduction, they believe that the family is essential in the reproduction of the labour force. In pre capitalist society people only grew staple foods, drank water and lived simple life’s. People choose to have numerous children. More children meant more farm hands and help around the farm.
It also acted as an insurance, against the famine, disease and other natural disasters. After the industrial revolution this all changed, Families would have less children because there was a higher chance of them surviving. Men would find themselves working and getting paid much less than the money they made for the business Engel says women’s role in the family was harsh as they did unpaid work such as cleaning and childcare. The capitalist benefits from the unpaid labour given to them by women and children within the unit.
Zaretsky argues that the family is a major consumer of capitalist products. This fact in itself ensures a market for capitalist products. Because it means that the working class are first exploited and underpaid and then overcharged to buy the goods they do not need which they produced. Functionalists would argue industrialisation led to the slow replacement of extended families by nuclear families because industrialisation requires more geographical and social mobility.
Geographical mobility is easier for nuclear families while if within extended families young adults achieve higher social status through social mobility than their parents this, according to Parsons would make for social tensions within the extended family which would be avoided if young married adults lived separately in their own nuclear family. Industrialisation leads also to processes of structural differentiation which implies that new more specialised social institutions such as factories, schools and hospitals develop to take over some of the functions previously performed by families.
This means therefore that the nuclear family loses some of its functions but it remains crucial in relation to the two functions which it does retain, the socialisation of the young and the stabilisation of adult personalities. In conclusion, the main purpose of the family is to support capitalism to a certain extent as Marxists have many valid points however Capitalism may not be seen as biased and therefore the Marxist view of the family is rejected and Marxists ignore family diversity completely.