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SOC103 October 12, 2010
nuclear family: is composed of a cohabiting man and woman who maintain a socially
approved sexual relationship and have at least one child
traditional nuclear family: the wife performs free domestic laour while the husband works
outside the home for money. This family form is based on a gendered division of labour
very, very important role in changing people and society
Idea of tradidional nuclear society criticized by feminists
A set of interrelated ideas about the traditional nuclear family, including
a) the idea that heterosexuality is normal and morally superior to homosexuality
b) that heterosexual monogamous marriage is normal and morally superior to any
other kind of family arrangement
c) that a womans natural role in life is to bear children in marriage and do the
domestic labour of the household; a mans natural role is to provide for and protect his
minority of NA families live in traditional nuclear family in this day and age
alternatives - never married, nonmarital cohabitation, voluntary childness, single parent,
divorce, remarriage, egalitarian (dual career), extramarital relationships, same-sex
relationships, households
Functionalism: The Five Functions of Families
sexual regulation - society needs boundaries about where/who you can have sex,
marriage regulates sexual activity
economic cooperation - combination of man and woman cooperative unit, women do
lighter tasks around home since weaker, men are stronger and can do physical tasks for
jobs, optimizing everyones time
reproduction - before contraception sex usually resulted in birth, children were
investment since could support parents when they get old
socialization - adults must care and teach children values of society
emotional support - family provides haven for emotional support.
Parsons - primary function on nuclear family to provide emotional support,
woman in charge of emotional well being. man takes on instrumental role
ie providing for family
nuclear families everywhere based on marriage
after WWII (50s-70s) incredible prosperity and happiness, government programs support
traditional nuclear family. people married younger, more babies, divorced less. middle
class women engaged in "orgy" or domestic responsibilities
crude divorce rate - # of divorces per 1000 people in population. raised from 60s to 80s
crude marriage rate - # of marriages per 1000 people in population - spike in 1941 and kept
total fertility rate - average number of children born to women of the same age over their
peaked at 1955, decreasing since
replacement rate is number of children each woman must have on average for population
size (excluding immigration and emigration) to stay constant
from the 19th century to now, there has been an overall decline in the traditional nuclear
women higher rates of depression and dissatisfaction in the "traditional nuclear family"
rosie the riveter - women who worked manual labour during WWII, had real jobs for once in
their lives
when male soldiers returned they lost their jobs or got downgraded to womens
wages. werent happy about this, wanted to work. many families too poor to have only
one member work for family. sparked feminist ideas
conflict approach
associated with marxism
believe traditional nuclear family was a site of conflict and the basis for social
engle's said the traditional nuclear family was cause of men' greed
Mode of production of human families
hunting gathering societies -> agricultural societies; domestication of animals
often moved as hunter/gatherer, no private wealth due to conditions of life
agricultural society - people settle down, people accumulate private wealth, in
interest of family to not see private wealth lost or squandered. men protect
wealth and inheritance after death. this is when traditional nuclear
family takes form. lineage defined by paternity and inheritance went down to next son.
wives property of husbands. men owned anything woman earned.
not only is husband greedy for his things, husband thrives when wife does household
chores for free. men have interest in maintaining traditional nuclear family to keep
women doing these chores.
marxist feminists believe that capitalism has flourished under the sexist division of
marxists assert the primacy of class inequality, especially under capitalism, in
creating gender inequality in the family
but feminists assert the priority of patriarchy over class inequality because
patriarchy existed in pre-capitalist and communist societies
changing role of women one of biggest changes in society, entering workplace.
relationship between men and women changing, transition of power between men
and women in family can happen since women contributes to family
woman with own living (economic independence) is less tied to husband since can
leave husbands . divorce has become easier to do since 1960s
divorce rate highest in early 90s, lowered slightly since then. women most common to
divorce. divorce rate of marriages 40%
Five Bases of Marital Satisfaction
Economic Forces - if have money problems more likely to fight and have relationship
problems. lower the class of family the more likely economic problems will contribute to
family dissatisfaction. if woman enters workforce in better situation
divorce laws - happiness increased, mostly for wives, since easier to get divorce
family life cycle - about 1/4 of divorces take place in first 3 years of marriage. half
take place before 7 years. dissatisfaction again at 15, rises after that. teenagers bad for
marriages, causes strain on family
housework and childcare - happiness highest when housework and child care shared