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Sociology (2,104)
SOCIOL 1A06 (735)


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Stan Pietruszczak

Families 10/11/2012 3:00:00 PM Defining Families  Definitions of family shape government social policy and inform the decisions make about how to live our lives  The specific definitions of family have often excluded many families, which can result in being denied government services  Compassionate Care Program (2004)…(If you want to support someone who is dying)  Your child or the child of your spouse or common-law partner (of at least one year)  Your wife/husband or common-law partner  Your father/mother  Your father’s wife/mother’s husband  The common-law partner of your father/mother  Now changed policies to be less exlusive Definitions and Social Policy  Policies that assume financial support (ex. Children supporting parents)  Policies can deter relationship formation  Defining marriage ex. Excluding interracial relationships in the past, same-sex marriage. Not only social policy is important, but the symbolism as well. A Sociological Perspective  Families are socially constructed and change over time and place  Not only roles, but activities and work families accomplish  Social reproduction: The caring work involved in families; physical, emotional, mental -> grocery shopping, planning grocery list, worried about nutrition  Inclusive definitions emphasizing social reproduction (caring work) 4 PARADIGMS Structural Functionalism – Talcott Parsons  Heterosexual nuclear family; sexual division of labour  Husbands: instrumental role  Wives: expressive role  Strict separation of labour between breadmaker and homemaker  Gender division of labour holds families together  Men and women are interdependent 5 Functions of Families  Reproduction  Socialization  Economic Co-operation  Emotional Support  Regulating sexual activity - begins to decline in the 70’s… Conflict Theory – Karl Marx  Impact of industrialization: families were no longer, units of production, but units of consumption  Families are increasingly reliant on waged work  Households no longer make stuff, they consume stuff that they buy with their wages  What we see with industrialization among more affluent classes, where women did not have to work for wages, the home becomes a haven and women become guardians “A woman’s place is in the home”  Most women were not rich and worked for wages Frederick Engels:  Emergence of private property resulted in control over women’s devotion  Once we have private property men are concerned about how they want to transmit their wealth Marxist Feminist Theory  Meg Luxton: studying women’s unpaid labour  Capitalism is reliant on unpaid labour  Housework, meal preparation, thinking about the baby Feminists Theory  Family: site of conflict and male privilege Symbolic Interactionism, microlevel  How we actively create “family”  Symbols related to weddings such as rings, churches, white gowns  Examine individual subjectivity and how they are formed by family relationships. Ex. First-time mothers experience a sense of self that is transformed by being a mother  Family relationships shape own self-identity  “I am a McMaster student, I am a sister.” o HISTORY OF CHANGE IN FAMILIES Hunting and Gathering Society  In our earliest human societies, parents and children live immersed in a wider group rather than in privatized households  Caregiving is shared – by men as well  Women gather food which constituted the bulk of daily food consumption; this was very highly valued  Fluid gender roles Pre-Industrial Families  Household composition determined by labour needs  The composition of households was based almost exclusively on one thing: the economic needs. Not love or caring  Husbands and wives make very rational economic calculations  We do not see a clear division between public and private spheres  Children were viewed as a potential source of labour, and a mouth to feed, an economic liability  Households that could not sustain their children would send them out to live in other households if labour was not needed by parents Industrial Society th  Late 18 century  Families are no longer productive units  Households begin to shrink to parents and children  Waged work in factories; distinct separation in public and private spheres  Most people found it necessary to engage in waged work: husbands, wives, children  Factory work was dangerous and dirty  Men’s wages were generally higher than women’s wages  Women earned wages at home doing textile work  Among the more affluent classes, women are focused on homemaking and caregiving  New ideologies: femininity, what it means to be a woman; motherhood, what it means to be a mother; what children need from their mothers  Ideas that women are biologically predisposed for caregiving  Supported by medical and scientific literature at the time, even religious doctrine  Focus is much on mothers now rather than fathers  New psychological and child development theories promoting the role of mothers  Intensive mothering: kids need intensive maternal care for their psychological well-being  Children who do not get intensive, exclusive maternal care will discover severe outcomes  Rather than promoting children to earn wages, we begin to see children more and more as economic investments and liabilities  As a result of this, family size begins to shrink, especially among more wealthy families 1950’s  Declining fertility up into the 1950s  Economic affluence promoted family life (early marriage, large families)  Tragedy of WW2 gives rise to dramatic trends  50s and 60s: unprecedented economic growth – the manufacturing sector is expanding ad providing lots of good jobs for men with no education or good skills  Facilitates early marriage – getting jobs, earning good paychecks  Increases in home ownership - growth of suburbs  Embracing of family life in 50s and 60s  Many marriages in this time ended in divorce  Women’s economic dependence served as a deterant for leaving  High rates of alcohol and drug abuse among women 1960’s and beyond  Economic recessions impact families  Disappearance of great-paying family wage jobs  Need for wives to
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