• Governments generally encourage heterosexual marriage and childbearing because they
provide citizens, taxpayers, voters, customers, and workers
• Census family: heterosexual or homosexual couple with or without biological or adopted
children, or a sole parent with children.
• Nuclear and extended family
• Baker: a modified extended family does not share a dwelling, but shares resources
• Stark. 1874. All our kin: Aid to families with dependent children makes presence of men,
in conditions of unstable employment, irrational. Family is based on a network of female
relatives who share resources.
The traditional nuclear family
• The traditional nuclear family is comprised of: a father-provider, a mother-homemaker, at
least one natural or adopted child.
• Parsons: economically efficient, because the man is normally the highest-wage earner. It
would be economically irrational of him to spend potential working time on unpaid
household and child care.
• Biologically possible to have 17 babies
Other types of families
• Foraging societies: children belong to a tribe/clan (not to individual parents); collective
responsibility for children
• Marriage without children
• Common law couples
• Same sex marriages
• Lone parent families
• Astronaut/transnational families (e.g Hong Kong and Vancouver)- always moving
between two r4esidences in different countries
• Homosexual and heterosexual couples if have lived together for more than a year are
considered to have same rights as married ppl Families- a sociological definition
• Family is a set of relationships people create to share resources daily, thus ensuring their
own and their children’s welfare, and socially reproducing their society
• Focus: family processes (same as Baker)
• Family Processes: substantive relationships among members and their ability to satisfy
the members’ biological, psychological, economic and social needs.
• Family structure: membership and formal relationships among members
• Family-values ideology: assumes primacy of family structure: only one family structure
adequate to raising of children and it can be individually chosen.
Sociological theories of family
• The political economy (Marxist and neo-marxist approach)
• Structuralist approach
• Symbolic-interactionist approach (baker: social constructionist)
• Knezevic: relies on qualitative interviewing and field observation-NOT experiments.
Social constructionism is a neo-marxist theory: actors’ power determines acceptance of
• Feminist theories
• Post-modernist approaches (Baker: post-structuralism): focus o