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Lecture 22

SOC271 Lecture 22: April 6- Chapter 16 (Lecture and textbook)

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University of Alberta
Robin Willey

April 6 - Three Conclusions Your Conclusion: Defining the “Family” - How has your definition of the family changed? - What do you think is the future of the family in Canada? Textbook’s Conclusion: The Future of the Family - Science fiction and the family o Holy Trinity of Sci-Fi – Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who ▪ Star Trek- family is diverse; primary family is defined by vocation, what you do (ex. crewmates/shipmates); we become defined by the things we do; also very heteronormative ▪ Star Wars- bit of incest; families are pretty traditional in terms of their arrangement; jetis get taking out of their homes and placed in schools ▪ Dr. Who – always a woman who travels with him (asexual relationship because Dr. lives forever and doesn’t want to get too attached) ▪ All play with future visions of the family (another example – GATTACA; Mad Max films – family formed under circumstance (ex. when you need to survive)) Predicting the Future of the Family - Less accurate predictions – heterosexist • Fear of familial “disintegration” – family would fade away, then all things would fade away (ex, norms, communication to future generations) • The collapse of marriage • Some suggested that the welfare state would collapse without the male breadwinner • Families would become more “communal” and “tribal” – seniors would start living in polygamous relationships • Fear of “overpopulation,” under-population, and a lack of “good barbarians” (good barbarians- people of European descent) • No one predicted same-sex marriage - Some more accurate predictions • Families becoming more “flexible”, independent, work more with institutions • Some predicted that women would come to participate in the workplace and families would have to change as a result • A rise in divorce and move away from the “permanence” of marriage • A refocus on eugenics – now it’s prenatal screening Eichler’s Predictions - Causes o Climate change o Peak oil o Global income disparity - Effects o More three-generation families - o Decrease in life expectancy o Low fertility and high immigration o Men will contribute more in child care and house work o Divorce and cohabitation will appear as an alternative to permanent monogamy Robin’s Conclusion Glaring and Not-So Glaring Omissions - Theory and the family – understanding theoretical underpinnings is important - Parenting and self-pleasure - Alternative religions and the family - Sex work - Abortion New Directions - History - Cultural and postcolonial studies - Social theory - Religion - Evolution and biology - Gender studies - Popular culture - Art The Final Take - The “death of God” isn’t so bad – allows us to do family with more and more people (ex. workplace, friend groups, etc.) o What is the family after the “death of God?” o Family is indeed a practice I do and have done with dozens of people – pushing boundaries out - Family as politics? o Love is a politics – makes it an interesting way to think about the family ▪ Family as a radical politics – do family radically Chapter 16- The Past of the Future and the Future of Family - The time at which a prediction was made bore no relation to its accuracy Past Predictions About the Family - Observations on marriage from over 50 years ago still seem relevant today: o 3 types of opinions on marriage: ▪ The opinion held by those who consider monogamic, indissoluble heterosexual marriage the only divinely sanctioned form and therefore the only one that can ever be tolerated ▪ The opinion held by those few sophisticates at the other extreme that not only is the usefulness of marriage past but also it is now doing a genuine disservice to the family and should be immediately abolished ▪ The opinion held by the vast number of persons in between these extremes that marriage performs valuable service in regularizing sex relations and stabilizing the primary group in which children are reared and that it should be not indissoluble but subject to correction and improvement The Future of the Family/Marriage as an Institution - Predictions that the family is about to disintegrate and disappear seem as old as the family itself - Many saw a future of marital options – which is what we see today (ex. cohabitation, same-sex couples, dual-earner couples, husbands as the stay-at-home parents, etc.) Communal Family Structures/Group Marriages - The author who are predicting the disappearance of the monogamous, nuclear family see this as a negative, terrible event, threatening the very existence of civilization - In contrast, by late 60s and early 70s (time of the hippie movement) a considerable amount of intellectuals and authors believed that this form of the family was basically passé and that alternative structures were needed o Women’s movement had become a major social force, voicing clear dissatisfaction with the patriarchal nuclear family that emphasized success and domesticity o Zero population movement- a social movement advocating that the number of births should be restricted so that the human population would not outstrip the capacity of the earth to sustain humanity o Put family high on the political agenda - Considerable amount of authors proposed/predicted some form of communal or tribal family, or various forms of group marriages (since they had established that it was dangerous to continue to support the nuclear family) o These discussions focus primarily on the adults and ignore the raising of the children – one of the reasons w
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