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Lecture 4

SOCI 2P00 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Married People, Selection Bias, Social Forces

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SOCI 2P10 October 22, 2012
The Family
As students:
o How do you define your family?
o If you’re living with roommates, are they “family”?
o While you’re away from home, are you still considered part of your parents’/parent’s
One of the most widely cited definitions:
o “A social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation, and
reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially
approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually
cohabitating adults
Another definition:
o “A social arrangement based on marriage and marriage contract, including recognition
of the rights and duties of parenthood, common residence for husband, wife and
children, and reciprocal economic obligation between husband and wife”
o Same sex couples
o Common law couples
o Lone-parent families couples without children
If use narrow definition of family as including legally married heterosexual couple with children
living at home = 34% of Canadian families
Understanding of what constitutes family changes over time
Definition is always expanding
Census Canada definition
o 2006 2 definitions
1) census family married couple (without children), common-law couple (w/o
children), lone parent of any marital statuses with at least one child living in the
same dwelling
2) economic family a group of two or more persons who live in the same
dwelling and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common-law or
A couple may be of the opposite or same sex
Nuclear family -> other forms (e.g extended, lone, etc)
Eichler (1988)
o Important aspects of the families are socialization, emotional relationships, residence,
economics, sexuality, and reproduction
But not all of these have to be present for a social arrangement to be
understood as a “family”
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SOCI 2P10 October 22, 2012
American Family Decline (Popenoe 1993)
Argues that families have lost functions, social power, and authority over their members
o Smaller in size, less stable shorter life span
o People are less willing to invest time, money, energy in family life
o Is perturbed by the fact that nuclear family is disappearing
o Believes that the nuclear family valued, and wanted to do more for its children
Family: a domestic group a group in which people typically live together in a household and
function as a cooperative uit, particularly through resources, in the pursuit of domestic activities
o Has to include at least one adult and one dependent person (child, elderly, etc)
o Can include single-parent, stepfamilies, non-married and homosexual couples, and all
other family types in which are dependent
o Decline -> the domestic group that he defines as family is failing in performing the
primary functions of procreation and socialization of children
3 reasons for decline
o Decreased fertility
Due to
Positive feelings toward parenthood/motherhood declining
Decrease I stigma associated with childlessness
o Increased incidence and acceptance of divorce, especially among families with children
Increased divorce rate due to
Rejection of traditional roles by wives no more housewives and
weakening of economic bond no more dependence of wife on
Unrealistic expectations of marriage
Changing gender roles
Rise of the “me-generation”
o Institution of marriage itself in steep decline less people get married to begin with
Decline in rate of marriage due to
More acceptable to be an unmarried women
Traditionally marriage was understood as a “social obligation” now:
mainly a path to self-fulfillment
Marriage today: voluntary relationship that individuals can make and
break at will laws are more lax
o Decline of economic interdependence between husband and wife -> wives less likely to
stay in bad marriage
o Blaming the victim
Unwilling to put up with bad marriage?
Uninterested in having children?
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