SOC214H1 Lecture Notes - An Unmarried Woman, Late Marriage, Nuclear Family

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Families in pre-industrial Europe
The pre-industrial Europe and North America, people working on the land- both servants and craftsmen‟s
(creating products at home and sell it in the market) works are done in or around the households by the
members of the household ”household economy”, which is the basis of nuclear family
I. Family in Feudal England (5th -14th century)
There is no central government or army in this period. Family structure then become powerful and become the
key labour force
A. The nobility (& royalty) and the importance of the lineage
1. Marriage: an arrangement between lineages, to acquire connections & land (women bring a „dowry‟,
men a „bride price‟)
In royal family, you marry your son or daughter to another royal family in a foreign country so
that when these two countries are in war, you will have alliance
Women were under husband‟s control after being married
2. Wives: for bearing a son (an heir)
Power for a woman is to have a son and wait till he becomes the King
Wife has the pressure to have lots of children, including girls
Noble men are often gone. The husbands will trust their wives to run the state
3. “Patriarch client relationship”: more powerful person claim protection to lower status people and the
lower status people, in return, promise loyalty
There are tremendous social inequality-90% of the population are servants
The peasants are bounded to the land/indenture (they owe labour work to the noble family)
Serfs/peasants cultivate their own-they feed themselves
B. Peasants/serfs: nuclear families, under the power of the manorial lord & immersed in the village
community
1. Household: work unit- nuclear family plus labourer(s)
2. Marriage based on practical matters-the nobles encourage their peasants to get marry. So that the
men can work better by having the wife to provide food for their household. Marriage is the basis of
the working partnership
a. Need for land and some dowry-men‟s source of power, only they can own land
b. Husband (owner of property) & his wife‟s guardian (legally)- if the women have to go the court,
they need somebody to represent them
c. RC Church: man as authority over his wife less gender inequality with decreasing status-lower
status women. The church proposed that marriage is for the sake to have children and to prevent
adultery
d. But wife working together with husband to provide subsistence
3. Children: mothers occupied primarily with necessary work
Parents do care about children. However, women do not prioritize the care of the child
Usually kids taking care of kids
4. High death rates; frequent changes in household composition (stepmothers)- 50% chance of children
surviving till the age of 21
5. Lack of privacy
Peasants live in village community-lands were scattered around the countryside. Thus, the whole
village decides where to plant and what to plant-collective decision.
If you choose somebody that the village disagree, the whole village will humiliate you
- These families are where the economy of the villages occurs. Household families provide labour. Work
relations are family relations (intertwine). The marriage is the basis of working partnership
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Document Summary

There is no central government or army in this period. In royal family, you marry your son or daughter to another royal family in a foreign country so that when these two countries are in war, you will have alliance. Women were under husband s control after being married: wives: for bearing a son (an heir) Power for a woman is to have a son and wait till he becomes the king. Wife has the pressure to have lots of children, including girls. The husbands will trust their wives to run the state: patriarch client relationship : more powerful person claim protection to lower status people and the lower status people, in return, promise loyalty. There are tremendous social inequality-90% of the population are servants. The peasants are bounded to the land/indenture (they owe labour work to the noble family) So that the men can work better by having the wife to provide food for their household.

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