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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 Introduction to the Sociology of Families.docx

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McMaster University
Sandra Colavecchia

1 Sociology 2U06: Sociology of the Family Sept. 19 2011 Lecture 4: Introduction to the Sociology of Families The Sociological Imagination: - Term coined by C. Wright Mills - Individual experiences connected to a social context o About connecting our own personal issues to a larger, broader context - Ex. Divorce: o Why do people get divorced? (individual couples)  Cheating  Irreconcilable differences  Abuse  Growing apart  Falling out of love  Unrealistic expectations of a partner and/or a relationship  Finances  Trauma (i.e. death of a child)  Difference in values  Unanticipated issues  Conflict over religion  Drugs and alcohol o From a sociological perspective, why is it that we see this increase in divorce? o Why is it that this generation is more likely to get divorced than our grandparents generation?  Legally it is easier to get a divorce now, changes in divorce legislation  Women’s rights  Women have more economic dependence  Not as much a social stigma as it used to be  Increase of secularism  Matrimonial property rights  Equal distribution of matrimonial assets  Easier for women with no connection to the labour force to leave a marriage  People living longer, therefore marriage is a longer commitment  Change in gender roles  i.e. whether housework is shared or not shared can lead to conflict  Inadequate structural support places greater pressure on couples who seek individual level solutions to what is really a bigger structural problem  Greater diversity in families 2  Option of pursuing same sex relationship or marriage, option of cohabiting, declining fertility, couples having fewer children, trend towards more voluntary childless couples Introduction to Contemporary Trends: - Changes in marriage, fertility, divorce, lone-parent families, and increasing diversity, including: o Same sex o Cohabiting couples with(out) children o Transnational (astronaut families, parachute kids) o Multi-family/intergenerational o Adult children living with parents (“boomerang”) o Interracial/ethnic/faith unions o Blended families  Many Canadian children will live in more than one type of family before they leave the home - Recent Census: o Revealed that common-law families are growing about five times as fast as married couple families o Same sex relationships are increasing five times as fast as any kind of hetero union o See more Canadians not being married o There are a higher proportion of couples living without children (empty nesters) - These changes have led some to argue that Families are in crisis, Family is on the decline o David Popono argues this o Some Sociologists (Stephanie Koontz) argue family is not in crisis, suggests that 1950s nuclear family as the perfect family never really existed o Popono  His argument cites the 1950s family  Modern family nothing like the 1950s family  Important to note that stats in 1950s very unusual  A lot of people getting married very young  Couples having a lot of kids  Very unusual as compared to the 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s etc o A lot of evidence that much of the families of the 1950s were a façade  Many trapped in unhappy marriages  A lot of 1950’s marriages broke up  Substance abuse very big thing  Aruge that people merely sedating themselves to get through married life o After 50’s – economic changes in post war period  Economic crises and recessions  Impact on families: 3  Especially in Canada  Manufacturing sector declines  Wifes need to be in paid employment to help families survive  Women’s labour force participation has con’t today, become entrenched  Trend that many women now in paid employment, even if have children or of childbearing age  This began around the beginning of the 70’s  Throughout history women have always been the economic providers of their families  Suggestions of returning to nuclear family of male breadwinner neglects our social history o Our society tends to be structured in
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