SOC246 - Lecture 7.docx

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11 Apr 2012
SOC246 Lecture 7
Aging and Families
- Families are unique because they are age integrated institutions.
- Defining family:
o Compositional narrow definitions
Tied to legal systems.
Change over time.
e.g., The Canada census definition of family:
“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.”
o who share values goals resources for decisions
o have commitment over time
o intimate reproduction and socialization of the young
- most definitions of family focus on the nuclear family
- kinship: relates more to the total family, aunts, uncles etc.
Emering Trends in Kinship Structures
1. Kinship system has become longer
a. Beanpole families: vertical extention but horizontal shrinkage (because of
decreased fertility)
b. More generations alive at any given time.
2. Shift from an age condensed structure to an age gaped structure in many exteneded
a. Age condensed: successive generations in a family have children at an early age
(21 and under)
b. Age gaped: gap between generations is 30 years or more
c. Normative structiue: each generation has babies between 22-29
d. In Canada: normative = 55%, 32% condensed, 13% gapped
3. Emergence of truncated families
a. Family lineages that disappear
i. Youngest child in kinship structure does not have children and the
lineage stops
4. Increases in blended or reconstituted families following widowhood or divorce
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