SOCC33 - Outline
26 January Structure and social change
Readings: Hareven, Tamara K. 1991. The History of the Family and the Complexity
of Social Change. American Historical Review 96: 95-124.
Cherlin, Andrew J. 2004. The Deinstitutionalization of American
Marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family 66(November): 848861.
Family is a societal structure. Determinants of social structure determines the roles of different
individuals, the levels of agency (society determines our behaviors, who we get married to, free
choice or arranged marriages). The institiution of the family through a course of time, as a
dynamic unit that changes over time. The family doesnt seem to change too much over time.
The roles of its individuals members and the roles that the family provides to the society do
change throughout life.
Function: roles, the purpose, functional perspective say that the family would not e there if it did
not have a function. Two set of functions: we use the family as a unit of analysis, and they have
societal functions to, but these change historically.
Changing structures structures within structures
Refutes the notion that the Western family in the period just before industrialization was
typically a large extended family
Industrialization changes institutions, brought about different employment schemes, labor
productions different legal system. We could image that it changed social structure. Unlike other
social institutions, the nuclear family model does not change.
Historically, they thought that the family was made up of three generations, and it was necessary
to subsist. However, family is isolated through the means to hold up the social structure that
does not change more or less over time. The processes inside the family have changed
historically though, meaning their roles, etc have according to the time period they are in.
Distinguish between structure and function is important here. Retirement, employement, etc,
change up the family life cycle, like a micro structure, but it changes the roles of its individuals.
Form: social structure, the content changes, but the form doesnt. The form tends to stay intack,
strucuture its makeup, what changes though is the content through history.
- why were most families nuclear? What is the content of the family
i. because very few people lived long enough to life in a large extended three generation
family. People died a lot fast. Demographics. The one assumption that we have to make here is
that we were dealing with was no access to the family life cycle. They might have assumed that
at some point in history there was an extended family portion to the life. But they do not ask at
what time was there three generation family arrangements? it usually was in the early stages of
1 family cycle that would have this three generation arrangement, because lets say that they need
time to get money to move out (married child).
ii. because of inheritance practices for the sons to leave to get inheritance. The first male
son would usually gain the inheritance (property and land). This male would have stayed on the
family farm to gain the inheritance, gets married and hangs around the household. The other sons
that the family would have had would go out and make their own nuclear family arrangements
because they could not stay on the farm.
1. Household composition
according to conventional wisdom, the family was thought to be a large extended family. Before
the 1950-60, before the census data, they assumed that the household head consisting of the
male, is the oldest member of the family. His wife, adult children, their grandchildren, aunts and
uncles, were usually living within the same household unit. He observes that this picture is
highly inaccurate. In the 17-18 C in Western families were seen to be nuclear families,
consisting of just two generations (adults and children). The average over time was the nuclear
family. Historically, this kind of family arrangement has not changed as much as other
institutions. It has maintained its basic form, content has changed.
Census takers also made mistakes to include those who were living in the household, but that
was not a blood relation (like friends staying in the house like a boarder or a lodger). So it made
it seem like the families were bigger. Boarding and lodgers were practiced before the industrial
revolution, so it made the census figures look larger.
Examples of nuclear families begin different then before the industrial revolution: house hold
compositions was based on labor power. We needed larger families to work on the farm, for
labor. Families needed more individuals to survive with. When their children were young, they
took in servants and helpers, they consumed what they could produce on the farm. But rather,
hand to mouth kind of existence. When their children were old enough they would reduce the
amount of servants and send them to work with younger families to help them out. If a spouse
died, then it was normal to get married again soon after. The need to keep the household
functioning. This s for economic imperative, not usually for love or companionship.
Now a days we see more households living alone more then before. It is not as healthy for people
to live alone, because of depression, and living alone costs more, even for the government.
Boomerang affect, when children move out and then come back into their parents household
because they could not sustain living by themselves.
Older women are living by themselves more not too. Women are living longer then men are, but
women are also living twice as much on their own then men will be.
Changes in family is a result of changing social structure on family compisition, but it does not
have an impact on the family arrangment (nuclear). Social structure imposes all the types of
changes as the roles, the responsibilities, the type of indivudal that is in the community.
Family structures: heterosexual (Male older/female-younger) (Male-younger/female-older)
(male and female the same age). Blended family (two families come together, step children and
parents), Same sex families, Extended families, Divorced Families. What could explain these
2different types of family structures that were not there from before in history. What features of
social structure are changing to allow different forms. (maybe growing secular crowd, less
people are being religious) Maybe economic institutions (money), finances can put a strain on
couples with conflict and that makes more couples divorce. People who marry within their own
social circles are more likely to have a successful relationship versus inter social circle
marriages. Higher wages allow households to start up faster. We have housing stock. Social
welfare programs. Household compositions is the spacing is closer together. Parents have a
longer life expectancy to see their children leave the home. Boarder and lodgers are not as
common anymore. Women have a higher likely hood to become widows and live alone.
2. Production and reproduction
the main factor is that the rural families used to produce what they consume, all of the work was
done by the families arranged my age and sex. But what changed was that members of the family
go out and work off of the family plot. What has changes is the nature of the experiences of how
childhood is experienced. Married women perform domestic tasks but also contrubute to the
economic factor of the house, skilled craftsmen, shoe shinning, the roles of women may have
been a lot more varied then they are today, but some of this assumptions of what women were
dong need to be considered here. They usually worked beside their husbands on the farm. Men
then left for work off the farm, and the women had to also do the farm work along with the
- industrialization: family members begin to work for wages in factories and workshops