Chapter 11 - Families And Socialization
- families are highly variable, more variable today than in the past.
- norms for ‘family’ are changing rapidly and this social change and social
diversity causes confusion. e.g. polygamy (more than 1 wife) and monogamy
(only 1 wife).
- today, people tend to postpone marriage to their 30s and have fewer children than a
- Families also act as an social school teaching children how to behave and act
WAYS OF LOOKING AT FAMILY LIFE
- view the family as a central institution in society.
- see family as a microcosm of society, with individual family members coming
together in a unified and productive whole.
- they expect changes in the family to mirror changes in the larger society.
- in modern industrial society, family life is complicated, requiring more coordination and
- Talcott Parsons and Robert Bales’s functionalism analysis
- views family’s division of labour as the key to its success.
- husband, father performs the role as a breadwinner, decision-maker,
source of authority and leadership.
- wife, mother performs the role as homemaker, nurturer, and emotional
centre of the family.
- Ronaldo Immerman and Wade Mackey
- argues that almost all marriage systems across the world support monogamy.
this reduces the number of sexual partners people have, hence limiting
transmission of STDs, reducing unwanted births, etc. Monogamous societies
tend to function better than communities that do not form pair bonding.
Monogamy also increases the survival capacity of the community
- Linda Waite
- argues that cohabiting relationships are often less permanent, fail to provide the
economic and psychological benefits that marriage offers to both participants,
are less likely to draw support from extended families.
- critical theories
- do not look for universal truths about family life nor do they suppose certain forms fulfill
social functions better than others
- Take a historical approach and focus on political and economic changes in society to
explain changes in family life. - due to industrialization, families moved from being self-sustaining productive units to
- symbolic interactionism
- focus on the micro level of sociological phenomena.
- study the ways members of a family interact with one another and the ways they
resolve conflicts within the boundaries of their roles in the family.
- social constructionists focus on the development and use of family ideologies such as
the ‘family values’ promoted by right-wing religious leaders and conservative
politicians in the US.
- tries to channel hostility away from exploitive employers and unresponsive
governments to people who are most in need of support and understanding.
WAYS OF LOOKING AT SOCIALIZATION
- 2 main views of how the socialization of children occurs
- 1 associated with functionalist perspective
- 1 with symbolic interactionists perspective
- functionalists assert that socialization normally occurs from the top down, as children
internalize social norms and learn to conform to the roles and expectations of society.
- such top-down learning is necessary for society, since it creates social
conformity and consensus.
- the more people of society accept these norms and values, the more smoothly
the society will function.
- ideal society is characterized by social integration, which is an outcome of
internalized behavioral expectations.
- although this functional perspective has many criticisms
- denied that people are completely shaped by norms and expectations of their
- feminist also criticized on socialization, since it seems to assume that the
differences (inequality) between men and women are natural and inevitable.
- it also fails to address the evidence that a great deal of socialization is from
bottom up, that is children teach themselves and one another.
- Adorno has a different view of this perspective
- strict, top down socialization may work well to produce conformity and
conventionality but has undesirable by-products to this kind of socialization:
anger, superstition, prejudice etc.
- symbolic interactionist approach is the most widely accepted view of socialization in
sociology, by Charles Cooley and George Mead
- this approach notes that people participate in their own socialization, through social
- interested in how a child develops a sense of self, and in the role of the family in
- Cooley believes children have the capacity for self-development, which they
achieve through social interaction.
- parents train the child through top-down, language, punishment etc. - children also self-evaluates through the looking-glass self, according to
how others view them
- Mead believes that self concept is made up of 2 components
- I and ME
- the I is one’s spontaneous, creative and unique self
- ME is the self one develops for social purposes, by internalizing societal norms
and values. e.g. you love singing. although you may sing in the shower, you are
less likely to sing in the subway. the I part is that your self want to sing, the ME
part is where you are socially conscious which conform to public expectations,
hence not singing.
- generalized other, is an individual’s notion of the attitudes and expectations of society
at large. you take another person’s point of view before acting on something. e.g.
when you imagine what other passengers on the subway might think if you suddenly
burst into sining.
- if a child reaches the generalized-other stage, the child must have already
developed a self-concept and is now able to act in a socially approved manner.
-> classic studies
- world revolution and family patterns (Goode)
- Goode examines the relationship between changing family patterns and
- draws attention to several major cross-cultural trends
- family patters everywhere are moving towards the nuclear family model
- nuclear family is a group that usually consist of father, mother, and their
children living together. there are nor more than 3 relationships.
Spouses, parents, and children.
- family unit is smaller today
- now it is a self-sustaining unit of production and consumption, separate from the
larger kinship group.
- parental authority over children has declined
- increase in women’s rights hence husband control over wife is less.
- change in social morals and values, greater acceptance to divorce,
contraception, abortion, premarital sexual relationships.
- these changes are attributable to the industrialization and urbanization of social life.
- as family units are smaller, they become more flexible to adapt to the industrial
- housework, childcare became a ‘barrier’ to a complete takeover of family life by
- although some extended families have persisted despite the industrialization.
- extended families are multiple generations of relatives living together, or several
adult siblings with their spouses and children who share a dwelling and
- goode also predicted that canadian families have become increasingly diverse.
- also marriage rates in canada have been declining. IDEA OF FAMILY
- some people may think those changes are signs of trouble as people are turning away
from traditional responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.
- in fact though, many canadians still take marriage and having children very
seriously and is an important issue.
- functionalist consider the family to be a social institution with one preferred structure, a
structure that they believe meets the largest number of social requirements.
- this traditional notion of family focuses on the legal obligations of family
members, which contribute to the survival of society. e.g. reproducing
population, supporting the work force etc.
- in canada, extended families are common among newly arrived immigrants.
- although they no longer share a household with extended family members, they
often live close by but rely heavily on one another. this type of family
arrangement is a modified extended family.
- census family is a household that include 2 spouses with or without never-married
children, or a single parent with one or more never married children.
- we have traditionally assumed that social units that meet the formal or structural
requirements, for survival.
- 2 problems wi