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Lecture 9

Lecture 9 Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Pre-Industrial Families.docx

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McMaster University
Sandra Colavecchia

1 Sociology 2U06: Sociology of the Family Oct. 9 2011 Lecture 9: Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Pre-Industrial Families Discussion Question: - In pre-industrial society marriage was mostly shaped by economic circumstances, but love was also a factor. How much is love/economy a factor for you? Pre-Industrial Societies: - Myths about Pre-Industrial Families: o Myth of extended and large families not supported  Extended:  Social historians – 3 gen family households NOT the norm  Norm was nuclear family pattern o But nuc fam lived with other people like servants and relatives whose labour was required  Larger, 3 gen family households were found among the wealthy who could afford to take care of all the kids etc. o When it was poorer found more in rural areas, for short period of time  As life expectancy increased, so did the 3 gen household  More common in western and central euro as there was a later age of marriage  Large:  Soc historians find most pre-industrial not that big – like 4/5 people including parents  Because parents had to think of economics when considering having kids  High death rates  Land can only provide food for a limited number of people o Have to account for servant’s foods etc.  What sets pre-industrial families apart is this existence in the household of non- kin  Servants, unrelated workers, apprentices etc. o Debates about how children were viewed  Idea that parents didn’t have such an emotional attachment as they do today, kids viewed as a source of labour only, not valued or really loved  Some soc historians disagree, say loved and cared for them  Reality of high infant death impacted child/parent relationships  One of the reasons for this myth development has tod o with practices now viewed as barbaric 2 o i.e. women sending their babies out to be nursed by wet-nurses  high infant mortality o i.e. children sent out to work as domestic servants in other households o i.e. infants swaddled in blankets and then hung on hooks in the wall to keep out of the way  Really practical measures  keep babies away from danger by hanging on way  Also, people do stuff kind of like this today – kid leashes, baby bjorns, keep kids safe or out of the way and comfy  Conflicting views on this  Children’s labour was required so economic decisions had to be made  Women’s labour also essential, couldn’t devote all of their time to take care of one child o Myths about family obligation and strong family ties also not supported  Idea that contemporary families are so diff because people now are so individual oriented so family not as strong a bond  Men had very specific contracts when they passed their property down to their eldest son to ensure that they and their wives etc. would be taken care of o Very telling that they felt these kinds of contracts were necessary - Key Characteristics of Pre-Industrial Families: o Chapter 5 Fox: Tilly and Scott “The Family Economy in Modern England and France”  Family economies and family wage economies  Family economies o Producing in homes  Family wage economies o Producing out of home  Families as means of consumption AND production  Now – most only consumption – go out of home for wages  Work/family in euro  Concern was economic needs  Would it cost more to feed a child for a year o
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