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Factor That Influenced Family Systems in the Caribbean

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Family Systems within the Caribbean

Name: Angel-Lee Morgan & Tierick Holness

Teacher: Ms. Wellington


                   For the purpose of this essay question, I will discuss how Marxist and Functionalist understanding of the family can explain the family systems present in the Caribbean. A standard definition of the family, according to G. Murdock is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of which maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children, owned or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults. There are several types of families, they are: The nuclear family, extended family, single-parent family, common-law union, blended family and a joint family. Both Marxists and Functionalists have different views on how the family operates.

                Functionalists believe that society is based on a set of shared values and norms; this is known as value consensus. They believe that the institutions that make up society rely on each other and helps to maintain social order, therefore if one institution were to fail then society would be dysfunctional. The family is seen as a vital unit since it satisfies the needs of other institutions such as the education system. Murdock believes that the nuclear family performs four essential functions for society and its members however he acknowledges that other institutions can perform these functions. He claims that he found evidence of a nuclear family in 250 different societies so he argues that a nuclear family is universal as it fulfills society’s needs. The first function is sexual, the second function is reproduction, the third function is economical and the final function is the education system.

                The Marxist perspective of the family is based on the opinion of Friedrick Engels and Karl Marx. They argue that the nuclear family performs ideological functions for capitalism. They believe that men are the head of the household and women are exploited and subjected to them, Marxists see this as a means of capitalist ideology. They think that families socialize their children into accepting values of capitalism. Basically the Marxism suggested males are the dominant of the whole family. For instance, it's essential to solve the problem of the inheritance of the private property in order to pass them to their children/heirs; in another words, it's unlikely for women to be a part of the responsibilities because they've been designed to be controlled by the family in the Marxist view. Females would have more domestic work at home whilst males are working, communicating and socialising more outside. They rear children and look after their husbands due to the non-costly domestic works/choirs. Families also act as a safety valve toward those bourgeoisie men, which diverts their stress, anger and frustration. Meanwhile, Marxists also state their perspective of males would be less likely to go on trike throughout families play an important role to take responsibilities of them. As in unit of consumption, families consume goods and services that provided by the capitalism. The Marxist view doesn't take in part of the family diversity, they believe that the nuclear family is determined by our economy nowadays.

              The family structure that presently exists in the Caribbean today has been influenced by several historical factors such as slavery, industrialization and indentureship. E. Franklin Frazier and M.G Smith argued in their writings that Caribbean families are simply the product of plantation. Family structures found in the Caribbean include the nuclear family, visiting type relationship, single parenting and historical forms. Patriarchal family forms was quite prevalent also. In the Caribbean, the nuclear family was mainly present among the upper and middle classes.



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