This lesson will analyze, compare and contrast the structural-functional approach to family, symbolic-interactionist approach to family, the social-conflict approach to family, and the social-exchange approach to family.
Source: Family drawing, Public Domain: http://morguefile.com/archive/display/562790
Social Exchange theorists base their understanding of families on cost benefit analysis, where people seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs. This same cost benefit calculus is brought to bear on partner selection and family and relationship dynamics.
Symbolic-interactionists assume that families create meaning for their members, and that family identities emerge from the combination of personality and social roles within families.
Conflict theories of families emphasize the family as an instrument for the consolidation and transfer of wealth and argue that patriarchy subjugates women within families.
Structural-Functional theories of families emphasize how families operate as institutions and relate to other institutions in society. In particular, they emphasize what the important functions of the family are for the maintenance of society.