Just Sociology

Challenges to the Family’s Socialization Role: Analyzing Technological Changes and Lack of Government Support

The view of the family as a cornerstone of society has been one of the most enduring and influential sociological perspectives. However, this perspective has been the subject of much critique, with some sociologists suggesting that the family is no longer the primary institution responsible for fulfilling its traditional roles.

This article will analyze the functionalist view of the family and explore two critiques of this perspective. Firstly, it will examine the proposition that other institutions, such as the workplace and schools, are increasingly taking over the functions of the family, as argued by theorists such as Parsons.

Secondly, it will consider the view held by the New Right and radical feminists that the increase in divorce is leading to the loss of the family’s socialization role.

Critique of Functionalist view of the family

Other institutions taking over family functions

The functionalist view of the family suggests that it has certain essential functions, which, if not fulfilled, can cause societal disarray. These functions are predominantly economic and emotional.

According to Parsons’ Functional Fit Theory, the family system has evolved to fit the needs of pre-industrial and industrial societies, where it played an ‘economic’ function, producing and consuming goods and services, and an emotional function, replacing the stabilizing role of extended family relationships. However, critics of the functionalist position argue that these roles, particularly the economic function, have been taken over by other institutions, rendering the family obsolete.

The first institution believed to be taking over the family’s economic function is the workplace. The industrialization of society has shifted the primary means of production from the home and small businesses to the factory.

This division of labor has led to the development of specialist skills, which are required within the workplace, rather than within the family. In modern society, the workplace, rather than the family, is the primary means of production and thus the main mechanism of economic exchange.

This shift has resulted in the family playing a much lesser role in the economy, and therefore, its importance has waned. Similarly, the second institution that is thought to be taking over some of the emotional functions of the family is the education system, especially the primary socialization of children.

Schools now play a significant role in creating socialization patterns and shaping the values of children. Rather than fulfilling this role within the family unit, children are increasingly being socialized within the educational system.

This can be seen as both a consequence of and a contributor to the ‘demise’ of the extended family and the growth of the smaller, nuclear family form. Increase in divorce leading to loss of family’s socialization role

A second critique of functionalism is that the family’s socialization role is also being affected by the increase in divorce rates in modern societies.

The New Right perspective argues that the rise of single-parent families and ‘broken’ families caused by divorce is leading to an increase in deviant behavior amongst young people, as well as a decline in traditional values. The failure of the family to fulfill this function results in a lack of socialization and discipline, leading to more criminal behavior.

Radical feminists, on the other hand, see the socialization role of the family as a key patriarchal control function without which women can enjoy greater freedom with respect to social and sexual behavior. It is the responsibility of the state to address these social issues with social policies and government support.

Importance of nuclear family functions

Fewer functions, but still important

Whilst the functionalist view of the family suggests that it has specific essential functions, this perspective has been criticized for being too simplistic and not being able to reflect the complexities of a modern society’s family structure. Despite criticisms, however, the importance of the nuclear family is still widely accepted as a fundamental aspect of contemporary societies.

The specific functions may vary from society to society, but there is still broad agreement that certain roles are essential for the welfare and stability of society.

Stabilization of adult personalities function

One of the key functions of the nuclear family is to provide emotional security and to help stabilize adult personalities. This function is rooted in the premise that the family unit provides a safe and secure environment for children to develop and learn the social and emotional tools necessary to navigate society.

One of the core functions of a nuclear family is to provide emotional support, companionship, and intimacy to each other, creating stronger bonds between the family members. Radical feminists view this stabilizing function of families as oppressive to women, and hence, they argue for alternative forms of family structures that are more equitable.


In conclusion, the functionalist view of the family has been subjected to extensive criticism, with many sociologists arguing that the family is no longer fulfilling some of its traditional roles. Nevertheless, the nuclear family continues to be considered an essential building block of society, regardless of whether some of its roles have been taken over by other institutions.

The precise functions of the nuclear family may vary, but the emotional support and stabilizing functions are still deemed essential for the family’s welfare and the welfare of society. It remains a key challenge for policymakers and social science researchers to identify the exact ways families play these roles in our changing societies.The family as an institution is seen as the primary source of socialization, and is responsible for inculcating essential cultural values, norms, and beliefs in children.

However, several challenges to effective socialization in the family have emerged in recent times that impact the family’s ability to fulfill its functions fully. This article aims to analyze two key challenges technological changes and the lack of government support for single parent families that have a significant impact on the family’s socialization role.

Challenges to effective socialisation in the family

Technological changes

Technological advancements have brought about a significant shift in the way families interact with each other and the world. Social media, in particular, has emerged as a powerful tool that has transformed communication and social interaction.

However, this shift has brought about new challenges to effective socialization in the family. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were originally designed to connect people and facilitate communication.

However, over time, they have become a tool for expressing political opinions, disseminating fake news, and promoting hate speech. The impact of social media on the family is two-fold.

On the one hand, it has made communication more accessible and convenient, maintaining family connections even when family members are geographically distant. On the other hand, it has posed unique challenges to families that undermine their ability to fulfill their socialization role.

Online platforms have enabled children and teenagers to indulge in risky behaviors, such as cyberbullying, sharing inappropriate messages, and images, all out of the sight of parents. Moreover, the easy availability of pornography online has made it difficult for families to maintain traditional sexual norms.

The challenge for families, in this case, is to balance the use of technology without compromising on their socialization role. Parents must find ways to monitor their children’s use of online platforms, educate them on the responsible use of technology, and promote internet safety initiatives to prevent potential negative outcomes resulting from excessive technology use.

Lack of government support for single parent families

The role of the family in socializing children is essential in society. However, some social groups face greater challenges in fulfilling this role than others.

Single-parent families are perhaps the most vulnerable as they face numerous challenges in raising children alone. In most cases, the sole parent in these families has to shoulder the burden of the family’s financial needs, daily chores, and childcare.

This situation can cause immense stress and impact the parent’s ability to provide a conducive home environment for their children. Regrettably, single parent families lack adequate government support in most countries, and this makes it harder for them to fulfill their socialization role.

This lack of support is particularly pronounced in the form of social policies that make it harder for parents to offer quality childcare. In some cases, single parents have to work more than one job to make ends meet, making it difficult to spend adequate time with their children.

The cost of decent child care is also too exorbitant for most single parents, and they have to rely on the goodwill of relatives, friends, or less-than-ideal child care arrangements. The lack of government support has detrimental effects on the children’s mental health, academic performance, and social outcomes.

A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin showed that single-parent families have a higher probability of living in poverty, reduced levels of income, and higher incidence of psychological and emotional disorders in children. The lack of support ultimately undermines the family’s socialization role.

To mitigate this challenge, governments need to provide more social policies that cater to single parent families’ needs. This could be in the form of free child care, tax relief, counseling services, and financial aid.

Creating programs to support single-parent families could help reduce stressors, provide a better life for children, and ultimately, support the family’s socialization role.


In conclusion, ensuring the family’s socialization role remains essential in contemporary society. Technological advancements and lack of government support for single parent families are two key challenges that hinder effective socialization in the family.

While the impact of online platforms like social media is complex and multi-faceted, parents need to play an active role in monitoring and guiding their children’s use of technology. In contrast, governments need to step up and provide proper support for single-parent families to enable them to fulfill their socialization role.

Addressing these challenges is vital in promoting the family’s socialization role and ultimately ensuring societal stability.


In conclusion, the family as an institution continues to play an essential role in modern societies. It is responsible for socializing children, creating emotional bonds between family members, and ensuring the stability of society.

However, several challenges to the family’s socialization role have emerged, particularly the shift in technological communication and the lack of government support for single-parent families. These challenges have resulted in the family’s inability to fully fulfill its functions, undermine its role in society.

Addressing these challenges is vital for promoting the family’s socialization role and maintaining societal stability. FAQs:

Q: What is the functionalist view of the family?

A: The functionalist view of the family suggests that it has essential functions, predominantly economic and emotional, that are vital for societal stability and the welfare of family members. Q: What challenges to effective socialization does a family face?

A: Technological changes and lack of government support for single-parent families are two key challenges that undermine the family’s socialization role. Q: How do technological changes affect effective socialization in the family?

A: Online platforms, such as social media, can have both positive and negative effects on families, posing unique challenges that undermine the family’s ability to fulfill its socialization role. Q: Why is the lack of government support for single-parent families a challenge to effective socialization in the family?

A: Single-parent families lack adequate governmental support, which makes it harder for them to provide a conducive environment for their children’s socialization. Q: What are the possible solutions for addressing these challenges?

A: Parents need to play an active role in guiding their children’s use of technology, while governments need to provide adequate social policies that cater to the needs of single-parent families.

Popular Posts