SOC246H1 Lecture Notes - 18 Months, Nuclear Family, Sexual Revolution

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10 Mar 2012
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Sociology of Aging
Winter 2012
Week 7 Class Notes: Aging and Families
I. Introduction Aging and Families
“The family, as a fundamental social institution, influences daily life and life chances through the life
course.” – McPherson and Wister (2008), pg. 263, Aging as a Social Process. What way is this an
accurate and safe statement when opening a sentence
Economic meanssocial class influence children ( upcoming)
Linked lives perspective people are connecting with one another and it influence their life trajectory (
people transitions influence on others)
Way sentence can be about:
1) socialization and care in early life
2) coordinating care in later lifeproblems happen to parents can happen of taking care of older
3) a context for many life transition: turning points a routine in to a family context becoming a
parent
Why?
Families are unique as social institutions in that they are fundamentally age-integrative
Families are age integrating institutions idea of producing and raising upspring, linked together and
there are multiple generations of people.
How do we define a family There is a distinction between composition VS. function
Defining “family” is a notoriously tricky task.
compositional definitions: Narrow type of definition. Legal system and change over time legal
codes change over time
e.g.: Canada census who composes the family
The important point is that change overtime ( same sex parents recent)
e.g., The Canada census definition of family:
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“A married couple and the children, if any, of either or both spouses; a couple living common law
and the children, if any, of either or both partners; or, a lone parent of any marital status with at
least one child living in the same dwelling and that child or those children. All members of a
particular census family live in the same dwelling. A couple may be of opposite or same sex.
Children may be children by birth, marriage or adoption regardless of their age or marital status
as long as they live in the dwelling and do not have their own spouse or child living in the
dwelling. Grandchildren living with their grandparent(s) but with no parents present also
constitute a census family.” (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/concepts/definitions/cfamily-rfamille-
eng.htm)
Social scientists often see clear limitations of a narrow compositional idea of families:
Limitation form this idea of family growing diversity of family, there are other types of family
that forms
Whether we should expend this definition beyond blood ties and legal ties of we want to
understand family
functional definitions: Highlighted what family do not about composition. What they do to
operate in society
Limitation: All this definition emphasis on nuclear family to the diverse even functions focus
on nuclear family
e.g., “A unit of intimate, transacting, and interdependent persons
- who share some values, goals, resources for decisions and …
- who have commitment to one another over time
e.g., “The intimate group in which reproduction, socialization of the young, economic
cooperation, and social status placement occur.”
II. Emerging Trends in Kinship Structures
Use of the world kinship extend relation of family beyond nuclear family
Emerging trends: 4 basic ways that kinship is changing overtime in contemporary society 4
demographic change
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1. Kinship system has become longer (beanpole families “vertical extension” but “horizontal
shrinkage”)
Beanpole families- vertical extension with lower fertility few sibling born
Horizontal shrinkage- increase of life span
2. Shift from an age-condensed structure to an age-gapped structure in many extended families
Successive generation in a family have children at an early age (21 and under)
Age-gapped: gap between generation ( long gap between having kids), 30 years and older
Normative structure: each generation has babies around 22-29 y.o.
In Canada: normative: 55%, aged-condensed: 32% and age-gapped: 13%
3. More truncated families: Family lineage disappear younger generation does not have kids so
doesn’t extend the family and we see a decline in fertility
4. Increasing number of blended or reconstituted family after remarriage
Increasing rates of divorce
III. Norms and Expectations of Intergenerational Kinship Relationships
Hoe family negotiate relationship between parents and children as they age
Norms of intergenerational family life…
(a) Depend on the family roles in question (e.g., norms for spousal relations differ for relations
between parents and children)
vary by specific roles
roles occupied in familyhow they related in the family
privacy norms: plays with relationship ( mom-daughter, dad-mom etc)
There are different norms of what is appropriate in a relationships. Daughter might be mortify if
her dad saw her naked or her mom
(b) Vary by social class, ethnicity, region, and other relevant basic social factors
(c) May vary between specific families: specific family may have different culture about the norms
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