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Lecture 13

SOCI 1010 Lecture 13: Chapter13-Families Sociology

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SOCI 1010
Heather Lynn Garrett

Chapter 13 - Families Defining Family ● sociologists used to define family as a group of people who are related to one another by bonds of blood, marriage, or adoption and who live together, form an economic unit, and bear and raise children. ● many gay men and lesbians have something termed families we choose which is a social arrangement that includes intimate relationships between couples and close familiar relationships with other couples, as well as with other adults and children ● the point: Canada is diverse and there is no one type of family. What constitutes a family depends on several factors, such as their socioeconomic background, immigrant status, religious beliefs, or cultural practices/traditions. ● Now, we define family as a relationship in which people live together with commitment, form an economic unit and care for any young, and consider it their identity to be significantly attached to the group Family Structure and Characteristics ● in preindustrial societies, the primary form of social organization is through kinship ties ● Kinship: A social network of people based on common ancestry, marriage, or adoption ○ kinship networks help people acquire the basic necessities of life, like food and shelter, along with serving as a means by which property is transferred, goods are produced and distributed, and power is allocated ● in industrial societies, other social institutions take on some of these responsibilities. e.g.. the government provide structures of social control and authority, while political systems worry about goods and services ● families in industrial societies have fewer and more specialized roles than those in preindustrial societies ● contemporary family responsibilities include regulating sexual activity, socializing children, and providing affection and companionship for family members Families of Orientation and Procreation Many individuals are/will be members of two different types of families ● Family of Orientation: the family to which a person is born and in which early socialization usually takes place ● though most people are related to family members by blood ties, those who are adopted have legal ties that are patterned after a blood relationship ● Family of Procreation: the family that a person forms by having or adopting children ● both legal and blood ties are found within families of procreation Extended and Nuclear Families ● sociologists distinguish between extended and nuclear families based on the number of generations that live within a household ● Extended Family: a family unit composed of relatives in addition to parents and children who live in the same household eg. grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. ● having extended family living within the same house allows the sharing of resources ● today, extended families are becoming more common in North America and Britain, which is due to the need for adults to care for their aging parents, grandparents taking care of grandchildren, and an increase of immigration from countries in which having extended family was normal ● Nuclear Family: a family made up of one or two parents and their dependent children, all of whom live apart from their relatives ● a significant shift in the family structure caused there to be more families without children than families with children ● Cenus Profile (2006) 41% of all households were composed of couples with children under the age of 18, while 43% of couples did not have children living at home Marriage Patterns ● Marriage: a legally recognized and/or socially approved arrangement between two or more individual that carries certain rights and obligations and usually involves sexual activity ● In Canada, the only legally sanctioned form of marriage is monogamy: marriage to one person at a time ● Polygamy: the practice of having more than one spouse at a time ● The most prevalent form of polygamy is polygyny, which is the concurrent marriage of one man with two or more women ● the second and less common type of polygamy is polyandry, which is the concurrent marriage of one woman with two or more men - rare and usually only occurs when female infanticide rates are very high or when marriage ar arranged between two brothers and one woman (fraternal polyandry) Patterns of Descent and Inheritance ● in preindustrial societies, kinship is usually traced through one parent (unilineal) ● the most common pattern of unilineal descent is patrilineal descent, which is a system of tracing descent through the father’s side of the family - this is done so that a legitimate son inherits his father's property/position ● Matrilineal Descent: a system of tracing descent through the mother’s side of the family - even here, women still may not control property ● Bilateral Descent: a system of tracing descent through both the mother’s and father’s sides of the family - this is the method used in Canada to trace kinship and inheritance rights, although children typically still take father's name Power and Authority in Families ● Patriarchal Family: a family structure in which authority is held by the eldest male (usually the father) ● Matriarchal Family: a family structure in which authority is held by the eldest female (usually the mother) - however, scholars have found no historical evidence to indicate that matriarchs ever existed ● Egalitarian Family: a family structure in which both partners share power and authority equally - this is becoming more frequent in countries in which women are fighting for more rights and equalities - however, this seems slow and coming Theoretical Perspectives on Families Sociology of family: the subdiscipline of sociology that attempts to describe and explain patterns of family life and variations in family structure Functionalist Perspective ● functionalists emphasize the importance of the family in maintaining the stability of society and the well-being of individuals ● Emile Durkheim said that marriage is a microcosmic replica of the larger society; both marriage and society involve a mental and moral fusion of physically distinct individuals ○ He also believed that division of labour contributed to greater efficiency in all areas of life ● Talcott Parsons (1955) said that the husband/father fulfils the instrumental role (meeting the family’s economic needs, making important decisions, and providing leadership), while the wife/mother fulfills the expressive role (running the household, caring for children, and meeting the emotional needs of family members). ● In industrial societies, families serve 4 key functions: 1. Sexual regulation: regulate sexual activity of family members to control reproduction so that it occurs within specific boundaries ■ eg. macrolevel incest taboos 2. Socialization: parents and other relatives are responsible for teaching children the necessary knowledge and skills to survive ■ eg. smallness and intimacy helps children with initial learning experiences 3. Economic and psychological support: in industrial societies, the economic security of families is tied to the workplace and to macro level economic systems - psychological support and emotional security have been increasingly important functions of the family 4. Provision of social status: families confer social status and reputation on their members - these statuses include the ascribed statuses with which individuals are born, such as race and ethnicity, nationality, social class, and sometimes religious affiliation - eg. health care, higher education, and a safe place to live Conflict Perspective ● view the role of the family in society as idealized and inadequate - rather than operating harmoniously and for the benefit of all members, families are sources of social inequality and conflict over values, goals, and access to resources and power ● Friedrich Engels (1972/1884) argues that the family in a capitalist society is an exploitative social institution that oppresses women ● compare families in a capitalist economy to workers in a factory - women are dominated by men in the same way workers are dominated by capitalists and managers ● Engels predicted that the oppression of women would end when women moved out of the private sphere of the home and into the paid workforce - however, we see that this has not been true ● concern with the effect that classes contribute to family problems eg. high divorce rates and overall family instability Feminist Perspective ● primarily responsible for redefining the concept of the family by focusing on the diversity of family arrangements ● some reject the ‘monolithic model of the family’ which idealizes one family form - the male breadwinner and stay-at-home wife and children - by doing this we are ignoring diverse family forms eg. single-parent families, childless families, gay/lesbian families, and stepfamilies ● roles within the family are viewed as socially constructed rather than biologically determined ● question whether all “real” women want to be mothers and whether the inequality between traditional husbands and wives is “natural” ● focus on patriarchy - men’s control over women’s labour power ● division of labour by gender is a big focus of feminists ● many women resist male domination ● draw attention to dominance and subordination in inherent relationships - looks at the “dark side of the family” ○ eg. child abuse, wife abuse and violence against the elderly - thought of as private/personal matters, however, this has been challenged by feminists and brought into the public domain of social policy and legislative changes ● viewed not only as a theoretical perspective, but also as a broad movement for social change Symbolic Interactionist Perspective Defined family dynamics, including communication patterns and the subjective meanings that people assign to events, mean that interactions within families create a shared reality Early Symbolic Interactionist · Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead o Provided key insights on the roles we play as family members o How we modify or adapt our roles to the expectations of others Key Thinker: Jessie Bernard- · Believed that women and men experience marriage differently and marriage contains two marriages: "his marriage" and "her marriage" · Researcher found that husbands and wives may give very different account of the same event and their two "realities" usually do not coincide Sociologists: Peter Berger and Hansfried Kellner- · States that interaction between marital partners contributes to a shared reality · During the process, partners redefine their past identities to be consistent with new realities · Divorce starts with a shared reality, and in the process, gradually develop separate realities Postmodernist Perspective In postmodern societies, families are diverse and fragmented. Boundaries between the workplace and home are also blurred. · Key Thinker: David Elkind o Describes postmodern family as permeable (capable of being diffused or invaded in such a manner that an entity's original purpose is modified or changed) o If the nuclear family is a reflection of the age of modernity, there permeable family reflects the postmodern assumptions of difference, particularly and irregularity o Modernity: the idea of romantic love has given way to the idea of consensual love (individuals agree to have sexual relations with others that have no intention of marrying or, if they marry, do not necessarily see the marriage as a permanence) o maternal love has transformed into shared parenting, including not only mother and father as caregivers, but either relatives or non-relatives · Urbanity: boundaries between the public sphere (workplace) and the private sphere (home) are becoming more open and flexible Establishing Families Cohabitation · Common-law union: the sharing of a household by a couple who live together without being legally married o According to Statistic Canada, the number of persons living as common-law doubled, going from 700,000 in 1981 to 1.4 million in 2006 · Almost half of these common-law couple had children · Most cohabit are young adults between the ages of 25 and 29 · The largest growth in common-law unions occurred among couples in their early 60s · "Trial marriage", while others believe it is not a first step towards marriage · Studies over the past decade have supported the proposition that couple who cohabit before marriage do not necessarily have a stable relationship once they are married Marriage · Why do people get married? o "in love" o Desire companionship o Want to have children o Feel social pressure o Attempting to escape from a bad situation in their parents home o Believe that they will have more money or other resources if married · Some researchers claim people want partners whose personalities match their own, however, some prefer partners whose personality traits differ from but complement their own · Homogamy: the pattern of individuals marrying those who have similar characteristics (race, ethnicity, religious background, age, education, or social class) · Communication and emotional support are crucial to a successful marriage · Those with marital problems lacked emotional intimacy, poor communication and lack of companionship Remarriage · Over 30% of all marriages were between previously married brides and/or grooms · Individuals who divorce before 35, about half will remarry within three years of their first divorce · A greater proportion of men than women remarry, often relatively soon regardless of age · Stepfamilies or Blended Families: consists of a husband and wife, children from previous marriages, and children (if any) from new marriages o Dramatic increase in numbers of blended families in North America over the last 30 years · Today there are just over half a million stepfamilies in Canada · Binuclear: Children may have a biological parent and a stepparent, biological siblings and stepsiblings, and an array of other relatives, including aunts, uncles, and cousins · Family Stress: o Rivalry among the children o Hostilities directed toward stepparents or babies born into the family Child-Related Family Issues and Parenting Deciding to Have Children- · Throughout the years, the cultural attitudes about having children and the ideal family size began to change during the late 1950s, in North America o Never wanted any o Found themselves in the right circumstances o Having religious or environmental concerns · Infertility: An inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sexual relations o On average, women are now having 1.5 children, however, rates of fertility differ acres racial and ethnic categories · Sociologist suggest: o Fertility is linked to reproductive technologies and to women's belief that they do or do not have other opportunities in society that are variable alternatives to childbearing o Includes both the desire to have or not to have one or more children o Women, more often than men, are the first to choose a child-free lifestyle o By age 40, more than 10% of Canadian women intend to remain child free o Research suggests that fertility problems originate in females in approximately 30 to 40%, while males experience 40% of fertility problems. The other 20% is impossible to determine Adoption A legal process through which the rights and duties of parenting are transferred from a child's biological and/or legal parents to new legal parents · In Adoptions: o
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