PHIL 242 - “The Psychodynamics of the Family”
MARRIAGE, ROMANCE, AND MODERN CAPITALISM
- “In our society, marriage has assumed a larger and larger emotional weight, supposedly
offsetting the strains of increasingly alienated and bureaucratized work in the paid economy. It
no longer has the economic and political basis it once had, and the family has collapsed in upon
its psychological and personal functions as production, education, religion, and care for the sick
and aged have left the home.”
- “In an earlier period, women tended to physically close to their mother and sisters after
marriage, and could find relationships with other women in their daily work and community.
The development of industrial capitalism, however—and the increasingly physically isolated
nuclear family it has produced—has made these primary relationships more rare and has turned
women (and men) increasingly and exclusively to conjugal family relationships.”
- Importance of motherhood to understanding gender: “That women mother [is] a fundamental
organizational feature of the sex-gender system: It is basic to the sexual division of labour and
generates a psychology and ideology of male dominance as well as an ideology about women’s
capacities and nature.”
- Conventional explanations of women and motherhood are inadequate: Biological drives are not
adequate to explain the persistence of (e.g.) the sexual division of labour but neither is vague
talk about “learning” appropriate behaviours or being “taught” to feel certain
ADISTINCTIVE SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES...
- Women care for children…
- ...and therefore provide everyone with their first and most important relationship…
- ...everyone attaches a lot of importance to gender difference, and most identify with one or the
- ...everyone is raised in the expectation of forming close relationships with someone of the
- What will you expect to happen in these circumstances?
- Answer (short version): Men and women turn out differently.
UNITY: RELATIONSHIPWITH MOTHERASAMIXED BLESSING (THE ‘PRE-OEDIPAL
- Children of both sexes start out completely unified with their mothers...
- Is this a good or a bad thing from the child’s perspective?
- Both good and bad
- How does it shape the child’s development and adulthood?
INDIVIDUALS, JEALOUSY, POSSESSION, CONTROL: (THE ‘OEDIPAL PHASE’)
- Children of both sexes come to realize that their mother is an individual, who doesn’t
exclusively (or even primarily) love them… - Struggle to acquire the other (separate) individual,