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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Sept. 20.docx

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Bonnie Fox

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Sociology 214H1F Lecture 2- September 20, 2011 Family Patterns Week 2: Theoretical Approaches Luxton Fox written for textbook looks different than other chapters Family and diversity across Canada * starting point Definition of family? In chapter 1 Luxton and Fox in the social sciences there are many different definitions of family. Wide range of responses for class definition of family Fox coded definitions by theme- #1 people who care about, love and support one another, theme involving relationships with feelings towards others. o People said always being there, rely on o #2 emotional closeness, special bonds o Most common about caring and loving, but a sense of active caring, more than feelings, more about the activeness of caring for others! Less about feelings more about activity active giving of support* o Some chose blood relations o Another theme- residence I. Definitions of Family A. Diversity in what family means to us as a class, and who we identify as my family - Emotion is at the centre of how we think about family in this culture! it is not uncommon in this culture - Is this the case in all cultures? - * Fox agrees with #1 most common answer - Notion of blood very prominent theme in this culture - Is it universal? Family as a unit- thus it would be natural - Sentiment and biology unusual, product of particular history? - = we will not agree on one definition - But we need a working definition for this class! Needs to be broad enough to capture different families - Because so diverse- hard to get one definition - Government need definitions- legal definitions thus all different Over half said nuclear family: 2 adults and their children We all have a pretty conventional definition of family There is much less diversity in this class than in Canada - About 40 listed more than just nuclear extended family list* - a lot of us think family is more than just nuclear B. On the differences between household and family - Family- 1 - Household- people who live together, residential unity C. Legal definitions, census definitions: their focus on kinds of units - Legal definitions matter! Because they determine who has rights and obligations, they are important; they will affect your life, ex. Biological parents legally responsible for providing necessities for children that has consequences for people. o Must identify the father- for child support. o More troubling things in settlement cases, when fathers never taken care of children they will have rites to custody and access than an aunt who has taken care of child for whole life who will not have consequence of legal definition! - Census definition- best thing government doing? trying to figure out who the population is and what their needs are for government services cannot service population unless you have a clear census o It has a very clear definition of family- included common law, same- sex = COUPLE, married or living common law, heterosexual or homosexual, and children so a couple and their children AND they live together = census family this is about kinds of units! Residential unit, social unit etc. Fox said there is a problem with this definition for us which Eichler stataes - Margrit Eichlers criticism on the importance of what people do, not who they are. People are left out of the definition who in practice on a day to day practice do family things ex. Aunt caring for nieces - Definitions matter in determining responsibility. thus census would say aunt does not have rite to speak for children - Thus we lean toward a definition that speaks of activities II. Theoretical Approaches Reasons for theoretical approaches, those who do research are guided by the theoretical approach! If doing social science. It suggests to you what questions you will raise, you will ask certain questions and not think of others depending on the approach, it will make you collect certain information and not otherit will guide you in interpreting you findings it is your world view These 3 perspectives have shaped Foxs research A. Historical Materialism Frederick Engels, On the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State -- family as the product of history 1850s-1880s when Marx, Engels writing beginning of sociology time when industrial capitalists, feudalism falling apart, a lot of social unrest, social movements wanting change, talk of equality demanded rites Karl Marx on the usefulness of focusing on how people produce their livelihood for understanding family - Writers looked at society Marx, Engels, Durkheim established sociology 2- family popular theory said history was about overthrow of matriarchy there was a time when woman had more power so patriarchy overthrew matriarchy early human societies were communal, no nuclear families, promiscuous sexuality, no pairing, women had more power than men but then men overthrew Engels book- argued something similar to matriarchy argument above, he argued that people had lived in communal societies, there was promiscuity, but at some point, private property developed and he assumed men held private property and not women, and so with this development came the desire in men who owned property to pass it on to their heirs their children, particularly sons so they needed to know the women was bearing their child certainly- so this led men to seize more power = develop monogamy and marriage caring relationships and family. Notion of early communal societies is crucial, he also saw family as NOT a natural institution but a PRODUCT OF A PARTICULAR HISTORY do not need to know details of Engels. Herbert Spencer wrote similar argument- more conservative though, he argued an evolution of society towards better and best nuclear family - Point is that they had a sense of importance of history and how it shaped social phenomenon. * - this is an important insight Engels worked with Karl Marx - The approach involves notion that if you look at human history and try to explain why societies change over time, the best way to approach that question is to initially look at the organization of production. Marx argued that what causes social change is contractions, tensions within the economy, the way we organize production. For Marx class conflict i
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