The modern family: a success story?
The main rationale for treating these two problem areas was not in terms of an interest in functionalism or kinship as such but rather to demonstrate the way in which such concerns have been directly or
indirectly supportive of a familistic ideology. At best the treatment of these topics has tended to divert attention away from a critical analysis of the modern family; at worst it may become directly supportive of certain kinds and patterns of family living. Betty Friedan, for example, has shown how many of the functionalist arguments and many of the 'findings' of family sociologists have been incorporated into college courses supporting 'the feminine mystique'.3 The point is not that sociologists of the family should give a united cry of 'down with the family' but that the reasons why such a cry can and might be made be given at least the same critical attention as the thesis stressing the possible functions of the family. Indeed a sociology committed to the enlargement of human responsibility, control and freedom should do no less.