Explain how conflict theorists see the role of the family.
The predominance of conflict theory in the interpretation of recent trends in family life necessitates a theoretical dialogue. According to conflict theory, recent developments are the result of efforts by social categories lacking material resources to liberate themselves by redressing inequality. The family unit pattern is thought to be the product of a specific (patriarchal, sexist, capitalist) society and thus has limited relevance for the future. In organizational theory, the traditional family structure, on the other hand, addresses universal needs. Whereas conflict theory believes that progress toward equality is liberating for all involved, organizational theory believes that progress toward equality entails individualization, mass society, and increased governmental control over people's lives.
Conflict theorists have also viewed the family as a social arrangement that benefits men more than women, allowing men to retain power. Most cultures' traditional family structure is patriarchal, which contributes to gender inequality. Males tend to wield more power, while females tend to wield less. Traditional male roles and responsibilities are valued more than traditional female roles and responsibilities (i.e., housekeeping, child-rearing). The traditional family structure is also inequitable for women and children. For example, more than 60% of all mothers with children under the age of six work.
According to conflict theorists, the family contributes to the perpetuation of social inequality within a society by upholding and reinforcing the status quo. Because inheritance, education, and social capital are passed down through families, wealthy families are able to maintain their privileged social position for their members, whereas individuals from poor families are denied similar status.