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AS Unit 1 - The Family

10) The “dark side” of the Family

One of the main criticisms of the marxist view of the family is that they don’t take into account the “dark side of the family”. There are two main areas of the dark side of the family, child abuse and domestic violence.

Child abuse

The levels of child abuse is hard to measure, however it is expected that 10% of children in the UK suffer some sort of neglect.

There are several different types of child abuse, as the graph to the left shows.

Opposition to functionalists say that this dispels some of their theories because actually the family, rather than being a safe place, is a damaging place for many children.

Domestic violence

It is estimated that 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men will suffer some sort domestic violence in their relationship. 89% of the incidences are committed by men against their wives. Domestic violence accounts for 30% of violent crime.

However domestic violence is not taken very seriously in court, in fact it is often considered ‘part of married life’!

So without the court to help them, you would expect women to leave their husbands, but actually very few do. This could be down to fear, shame, embarrassment, financial insecurities or concerns about their children.

Rape in marriage – Rape is the act of forcing somebody to have sex against their will. Many incidences of rape also include physical violence. Only in 1991 was rape within marriage made officially illegal.

Feminist explanation for domestic violence

Radical feminists say domestic violence is a result of patriarchy. They say violence is used to control and intimidate women to do what they want.

Marxist feminists say domestic violence is a result of other class related factors aswell.These could be stress from a job, an escalation from a dispute about money worries or the frustration of being in a low-class.

Both feminists agree that domestic violence would be reduced if women had equality with men, with less power and authority in the mens hands.


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


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