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SOC101Y1 (985)
Adam Dube (1)

oct 9

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Adam Dube

Not-so-nuclear families: poor African-American family patterns There are stereotype of poor African-American family, including “depend on welfare”. The welfare in US was changed in 1996 which makes it difficult for people to get help. The welfare only entitles for 5 years throughout your life and you need to be employed or looking for a job. The governments lowered the payment by 20% and include the “men in the house rule”. Changes in African-American family patterns after slavery ended - Higher proportions of lone-parent families (mothers and children) - Higher proportions of babies born outside marriage - Lower proportions of people marrying-in the low-income population *the differences exist only in the lower-income population in the society. Family pattern has no differences between middle or upper-income classes (similar situation in Canada)* The relationship between poverty and the pattern of “women-headed” households and births outside marriage 1. The “culture of poverty” argument-Daniel Patrick Moynihan, 1965. The NegroFamily: The Case for National Action ◦ The argument: a “pathological family”, characterized by unstable marriages, an absence of fathers, high rates of “woman-headed” households, and high rates of birth outside marriage ◦ He proposed that it is the problematic attitude and value (having too many babies and unable to raise them and the children follow the same trend) creates a type of family which causes poverty ◦ Changing people‟s attitude is the way to get rid of poverty. Otherwise, social programs are just a waste of money ◦ In short, African-American families are a “tangle of pathologies” and disorganized; they produce a “vicious cycle of poverty” (family pathologyindividual pathologypoverty) 2. The alternative argument: this is behaviour that reflects the conditions of poverty and racism. Poverty and racism are the causes ◦ William Julia Wilson: family patterns cause poverty ▫ People nowadays have a “present-day attitude”-not an attitude that you should defer gratification and that they have a casual attitude towards work ◦ Fox: family patterns are the result of the family ▫ The problem of this argument is that it is blaming the victims. In order to plan for the future, you need to have a control of the future. Some people do not sense that they can control the future. In both US and Canada, there is serious racism in labour market. The current economic often produces bad jobs. Many people work full time but are still in poverty due to low wages The causes of this family pattern 1. Culture: the West African tradition of extended families, with nuclear (marriage-based) families embedded in them. The strength of consanguineal (blood) ties ◦ Many people are living in extended families. Men often have more than one wife. Brothers are in close relationship while women and children are in close relationship ◦ People treated as slaves in the past retain their human dignity through their traditions 2. Slavery ◦ Slaves in the past are not allowed to get married and their children would be sold. Thus, people who were slaves were unable to love or care about the others ◦ Herbert Gutman, 1976. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom. The slaves created families, involving marriage, surnames, and the close ties with kin ▫ Marriage was common and expected monogamy ▫ After the Civil War, tons of letters or advertisement, searching for their partners ▫ Married outside the blood relations (at that time, in the southern part of the US, people married with blood relatives) ▫ Names going on with generations, surnames were also used ▫ People created fictive kinship ◦ Shirley Hill, Black Intimacies Childbearing by women slaves outside of marriage (on small plantations), child rearing with the help of other women 3. The political economy: “Bad jobs” and unemployment face Black American men in the inner cities. (William Julius Williams, The Truly Disadvantaged) ◦ In last few decades, manufacturing jobs have moved to suburban. Black American men have no car are then unable to work at those areas and are unable to support a family. Women have less incentive to marry men (Shirley Hill on the unattractiveness of marriage, for Black women in the U.S.) 4. Welfare policy ◦ “Aid to family with children”-extended aids to mothers with children but not able-bodied men ◦ It is because the government does not want to discourage men from getting jobs. If there is a man in the household or the woman gets married, they are unable to get the welfare. This further undermine the relationship between men and women and thus, marriages are uncommon Making sense of poor African-American family patterns, 1970s 1. Carol Stack, 1974 All Our Kin Networks centred on women, consisting of „kin‟ and stretching across households, featuring the exchange (or swapping) of resources and services, including the care of children. ◦ Kinship: socially defined, the size is depended on the relatives ◦ Motherhood: a collective responsibility, the person who raised the child up, the immediate sponsor of the child‟s network ◦ Fatherhood: socially defined, who can provide kindred 2. Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, Promises I Can Keep (on why unmarried, poor girls/women have babies outside marriage) ◦ The attractions of motherhood ▫ They want a baby ▫ Her boyfriend wants her to have his baby ▫ They feel that if they have baby, they can stre
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