Abstract According to functionalism, the family internalizes and transmits society’s supposed value consensus from one generation to the next, and such socialization explains morality, social order, and cultural uniformities. I present three investigations that challenge the concept of functionalist socialization, and propose alternative theories that may better explain observations. First, I present evidence from developmental psychology based largely on American subjects and an ethnographic report from Burkina Faso which suggest that the characters of children are not formed by parental socialization. Second, I report data from Europe which suggest that the weaker is family and its supervision, the stronger is character and internalized morality. Third, I report an account of European modernization which suggests that weaker family ties broaden extrafamilial associations and generalize moral orientation. Finally, I suggest that Schelling’s game-theoretic account of social conventions is a better explanation of cultural continuities and discontinuities than is functionalism.
Analyse & Kritik – de Gruyter
Published: May 1, 2002