Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

Student Question

If we were to create a summary of an episode for a TV show that focuses on family life, what could be some sociological concepts and theories of family that can be related to real life? What are some examples?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I assume that you are asking what sorts of situations we could put into a TV show that would illustrate various sociological theories and concepts of the family.  I will base my answer on this assumption.

One of the major sociological perspectives is the functionalist perspective.  This perspective focuses on the functions that the family carries out for a society.  One of the functions that the family is supposed to carry out is socializing children so that they understand how they are supposed to behave in society.  It is possible to think of any number of situations that could be put in a TV show that would illustrate this idea.  For example, an older brother could teach a younger brother how to behave with girls if he is having a hard time asking someone out.  As another example, parents could teach a child about being honest when he or she is caught shoplifting.

By contrast, conflict theory and feminist theory see families in a very different light.  They see families as a place in which people come into conflict over things like status and power.  This sort of idea has been the basis of many TV shows, both comedy and drama.  For example, there could be a dramatic episode in a TV series in which a couple contemplates divorce because the woman feels stifled in the relationship.  She feels that the man does not do his part for the family and that he treats her like her contributions are unimportant.  As another example, there could be a comedic episode (like so many in “I Love Lucy”) in which a wife tries to get around her husband’s attempts to curb the amount of money she spends.  Both of these play on somewhat outdated stereotypes, but they would be recognizable to modern audiences and would illustrate the conflict perspective’s idea that the family is mainly a locus of competition and conflict.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial