October 1 , 2013
SOC214H Lecture 4
- Today in the States you have to be job-trained to get welfare and you can only get it for 5
years in your lifetime
- Welfare is difficult especially for single mothers because they have to work and care for
- It was easy to get welfare back then; you just have to show your debts and you‟ll get it
What is the African-american family relationship? What are the causes of this family pattern?
African-American family patterns
1. Is there a different family pattern than that for white Americans? What is it?
- There has been higher proportions of lone-parent families (majority is single mothers)
- Higher proportions of babies born outside marriage (before getting married)
- Since 1940s there has been lower proportions of people marrying
- When researchers only look at middle-income and upper-income black americans and
compare them with other white americans, there is no difference
- This pattern no longer exists (swapping families)
- Marriage was common in this family pattern until 1960s
2. What is the relationship between poverty and the pattern of “woman-headed” households
and births outside marriage?
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the “culture of poverty” argument: a “pathological family”
pattern, characterized by unstable marriages, an absence of fathers, high rates of
“woman-headed” households, and high rates of birth outside marriage cause poverty.
Inability to save money and plan for future, etc these characteristics create problematic
o Moynihan argues: they don‟t instill in their kids the idea that you should go to
school and be educated and save up so years from now you‟ll have a good life.
They also have casual attitude toward school and employment
o Problem with his argument: even if you save money you might not be able to buy
a house in the future. Also the credentials you have today might not be useful in
getting a job in the future (there is racial discrimination)
- African-american families are a “tangle of pathologies” and disorganized; they produce a
“vicious cycle of poverty”
- Have to change attitudes of parents and kids. Marriage is the solution; women should
marry men to decrease poverty
- Alternative argument: this is behaviour that reflects the conditions of poverty and racism.
Poverty and racism are the causes
- It doesn‟t make sense to blame people for poverty because they‟re poor
3. What are the causes of this family pattern?
- Culture: the West African tradition of extended families, with nuclear (marriage-based)
families embedded in them. The strength of consanguineal (blood) ties
o Black population in the States largely descends from slaves
o Key characteristic of these cultures is extended family; people used to live with
big groups and extended family was the dominant pattern. Nuclear family was
embedded in the large household st
October 1 , 2013
- Slavery and its effects
o Herbert Gutman (1976): the slaves were able to create families