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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 Theoretical Perspectives on the Family.docx

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Sandra Colavecchia

1 Sociology 2U06: Sociology of the Family Sept. 26 2011 Lecture 6: Theoretical Perspectives on the Family Sociological Paradigms: - Either order theories or change theories o Order theories focus on sociological structure and order and things that support or reinforce the status quo o Change theories focus on social change, sometimes advocate change or revolution - Either macro or micro o Macro: can envision society as being made up of external social structure that shapes and constrains individuals in a society. Suggest structure imposes on agency. o Micro: human agency prioritized over social structure. Suggest agency imposes on structure. 1. Structural Functionalism o Order theory o Macro 2. Conflict Theory o Change theory o Macro 3. Symbolic Interactionism o Change theory o Micro 4. Feminist Theories o Change theory o Macro and micro - Biological/Essentialist Perspectives o Focus on basic biological differences between men and women and then hypothesize on how we might see society based on bio diffs between men and women o One of the inherent ideas in this perspective is the idea that the Nuclear Family is natural o Sometimes people who take this view look at the animal kingdom  How animals mate, pair, form unions or not  How animals care for young  Make conclusions about the animal kingdom and make inferences about human beings based on studies of the animal kingdom  This is highly problematic o A lot of criticisms at these perspectives in terms of their utility for understanding humans and the intimate relationships we form  Problematic to only focus on the BIO diffs between men and women  i.e. checking out hormone levels and making inferences based on this o i.e. Men have higher testosterone, therefore higher aggression 2 o Only taking the mean skews the results o Can’t only look at mean as it overlooks all the variation and overlap on ANY measure  Animal Kingdom:  Problematic because humans fundamentally diff from animals  Have to rec that within the animal kingdom, the social hierarchy is very important as well o Social environment impacts things like mating and caregiving o Can’t completely ignore the role of social environment o Some Bio/Essentialist Arguments  Caregiving is instinctual for Females  Sociologists argue that caregiving is learned rather than instinctual o Influences Structural Functionalism Structural Functionalism: - How does SF view society? o Stability, equilibrium, consensus, functionality o Each part helps maintain stability o Need to reach a consensus on all levels o Each part of soc serves a function that causes equilibrium in society o Connection to Bio/Essentialist:  Human Body Analogy  Soc is like human body in that it is made up of many different parts that all play their role in the whole  If one part is injured, vastly affects all other parts o i.e. View of families  Argue that if social institution of family is not working or challenged, then that will vastly impact all other parts of soc - What critique can we offer of SF? o No recognition of chaos, issues, inequality, oppression, conflict in society  We know we don’t always have consensus over important socia
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