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SOCA01H3 Lecture Notes - Zoophilia, Artificial Insemination, Your Choice Records

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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Malak Patel | Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Families
When people speak about ‘the decline of the family’→ referring to nuclear family
Nuclear family: consists of a cohabiting man & woman who maintain a socially approved sexual
relationship & have at least one child
Traditional nuclear family: the wife works w/out pay in the home & the husband works outside
the home for money
Only 41% of Canadian families in 2001 took the form of nuclear family
Functionalists believe that rising rates of crime, illegal drug use, poverty & welfare dependency is
b/c so many Canadian children are NOT living in 2 parent households w/ stay-@-home mothers
Functionalism & the Nuclear Ideal
Functional Theory
Polygamy: expands the nuclear family “horizontally” by adding 1 or more spouses [usually
woman] to the household
Extended family: expands the nuclear family “vertically” by adding another generation—one or
more of the spouses’ parents—to the household
Basic building block is the nuclear unit
George Murdock: conducted a famous study of 250 preliterate societies
o The nuclear family exists as a distinct & strongly functional group in every society
o Nuclear family is based on marriage
o Marriage: a socially approved, presumably long-term, sexual & economic union b/w a
man & a woman
Involves rights & obligations b/w spouses & b/w spouses and their children
5 functions of Marriage & Nuclear family:
1. Sexual regulation: w/out boundaries that defines legitimate sexual activity, world would be
disrupted by people having sex wherever, whenever, w/ whomever
2. Economic cooperation: a man & a woman make an exceptionally efficient cooperating unit
a. women→ physically weak→ take care of household
b. men→ possess superior strength → work outside to support the family!
3. Reproduction: sex→ birth of a baby
a. Children are an investment in the future [their economic value ↑ as they grow older]
4. Socialization: teaching children language, values, beliefs, skills, religion, etc
5. Emotional Support: nuclear family gives its members love, affection, companionship
a. Mother → “expressive” role → ensures family’s emotional well being
b. Father → “instrumental” role → earning a living outside the family

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Malak Patel | Chapter 15
Foraging Societies
Families in preliterate, foraging societies:
o Ppl subsist by hunting animals & gathering edible plants
o Nomadic groups of 100 or fewer people
o Gender division of labour → men hunt, women gather
o Travel in small camps or bands → band decides everything
o Try to keep ratio of children to adults low [too many mouths to feed]
o Life is highly cooperative
The Canadian Middle Class in the 1950s
Families in urban & suburban middle class Canada in 1950s:
o Only 1 person played the role of breadwinner→ husband
o Children enjoyed more time playing & leisure time activities
o Women stayed home to raise children
o David Riesman → called woman’s failure to obey strict gender division of labour a:
o Women’s employment in the paid labour force→ called a “menace” or a “disease”
o “marriage boom” → ↑ Canadians lived in married-couple families, ↓ in marriage age
o “baby boom”→ families averaged 4 children
o “orgy of domesticity” → ↑ attention to child rearing & housework for women
Throughout the 19th Century:
o Divorce rate: # of divorces that occur in a yr for every 1000 ppl in the population
ROSE very slowly
o Marriage rate: # of marriages that occur in a yr for every 1000 ppl in the population
o Total fertility rate: avg. # of children that would be born to a woman during her lifetime if
she had the same # of children in each age cohort
o Gradually weakening nuclear family!
Conflict & Feminist Theories
Many men & women felt coerced into getting married, trapped in their families, unable to
achieve harmony, security, & emotional satisfaction
Nuclear family → site of frustration & conflict
Wives reported ↑ed rates of depression, distress, dissatisfaction
b/c of divorce or widowhood, women had to enter paid labour force
Marxist → saw nuclear family as a site of gender conflict [male domination]
o Engels argued that only the elimination of private property & creation of economic
equality can end nuclear family (wanted communism)
Gender Revolution → if romantic love & happiness as bases for marriage
→ women’s increased control over reproduction
→ women’s increased participation in higher education & paid labour force
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