C HAPTER 12
I. Why Focus on Japan?
A. The family is an ever-changing entity.
1. Personal decisions influence the variety of family arrangements that
exist in any country.
a. Whether to have children and, if so, how many to have
b. When to have children, and how to space them
c. Whether to marry and, if so, when
d. Whether to work for pay
e. Whether to become a caregiver to dependent relatives
2. Personal decisions are shaped and constrained by larger forces, such as
average life expectancy, employment opportunities, and social norms.
3. A comparison of family life in Japan and in the U.S.; based on
indicators that seem to be associated with family well-being and
a. People in the U.S. seem more optimistic about marriage and
children than people in Japan. The U.S. has a higher marriage
rate, a smaller percentage of never married women, a higher teen
birth rate (41 live births per 1,000 females ages 15-19), and a
higher total fertility rate.
b. Both the U.S. and Japan have an aging population; that is, the
percentage of the people ages 65 and older is increasing relative to
other age groups.
c. Japan has one of the oldest populations in the world due to several
factors: a low total fertility rate, long life expectancy, and low
II. Defining Family
A. Core Concept 1: An amazing variety of family arrangements exist in the
world.This variety makes it difficult tfamily.e
1. Family - a social institution that binds people together through blood,
marriage, law, and/or social norms
2. Family members are generally expected to care for and support each
3. Definitions of family that emphasize kinship emphasize the idea that
the family is comprised of members who are linked together by blood,
marriage, or adoption.
4. Every society finds ways to exclude some kin from its idea of family.
a. Some societies trace family lineage through the maternal or
the paternal side only.
b. Selective forgetting and remembering is another way of
excluding some kin.
1. Definitions of family that are based on membership characteristics
emphasize the family in terms of ideal members.
C. Legal Recognition
1. Definitions of family that are based on legal recognition emphasize the
idea of family as two or more people whose living and/or procreation
arrangements are recognized under the law as constituting a family.
2. Legal recognition of family and marriage arrangements means that the
benefits, responsibilities, and rights awarded to those arrangements are
enforced by law.
III. Functionalist View of Family Life
A. Core Concept 2: Family can be defined in terms of the social functions it
performs for society.
1. The family performs at least five functions: regulating sexual behavior,
replacing the members of society who die, socializing the young,
providing care and emotional support, and conferring social status.
B. Ideally, families should fulfill these five functions. However, families often
fail to achieve one or more of them.
C. Family systems do not always regulate sexual activity so that it is confined to
a husband and wife; marriage and family systems do not always succeed in
replacing the members of society who die; family members do not always care
for one another in positive ways.
IV. Conflict View of Family Life
A. Core Concept 3: Family life is not always harmonious. Furthermore, the family
passes on social privilege and social disadvantages to its members, thereby
perpetuating the system of social inequality.
1. Conflict theorists argue that although family members often do support
one another and often have common interests, family members also
have competing interests, and some members have the power to
exercise their will over other members.
a. The choices that some members make do not always benefit
everyone in the family or the society at large.
b. The family perpetuates inequalities by passing on social
privilege and social disadvantages to its members.
c. Marriage and family systems are structured to value
productive work and devalue reproductive work.
d. The family also maintains and fosters racial divisions and
B. Social Inequality
1. At birth, we inherit a social status that shapes our life chances.
a. Families transfer power, wealth, property, and privilege from
one generation to the next.
b. Parents’ income affects the kinds of investments they can
make in their children.
C. Productive and Reproductive Work
1. According to Friedrich Engels (1884), the determining factor in history
127 Chapter 12
is the “production and reproduction of immediate family life”.
2. Both types of activities—production and reproduction—are work.
a. While we say that reproductive work is valued, it is not
usually rewarded highly on an economic level.
b. Reproductive work is disproportionately performed by
women, whether or not pay is involved.
D. Racial Divisions and Boundaries
1. In the U.S., people choose a partner or mate based on any number of
social characteristics, such as age, height, weight, or income.
2. All societies have norms defining who may date or marry whom.
a. These norms may be formal (enforced by law) or informal
(enforced by social pressure).
b.Exogamy - norms requiring or encouraging people to choose
a partner from a social category other than their own
c.Endogamy refers to norms requiring or encouraging people
to choose a partner from the same social category as their
V. Changing Family Structures in Two Cultures
A. Core Concept 4: Family structures are not static; they change in response to
larger economic, cultural, historical, and social forces. Sociologists track
changes in family structure over time and seek to identify triggers of change.
A. The Changing Family in the United States
1. Over the span of 100 years, the structure of the American family has
changed quite dramatically.
a. In 1900, 80 percent of children lived in two-parent families in
which the mother worked on the family farm or in the home.
b. Today, about 32 percent of children live in two-parent homes
in which the father is the breadwinner and the mother is a
2. Sociologist Kingsley Davis (1984) links women’s entry (and
especially married women’s entry) into the paid labor market to a
series of social forces, including the rise and fall of the breadwinner
system, declines in total fertility, increased life expectancy, higher
divorce rates, and increased employment opportunities for women.
B. The Rise of the Breadwinner System
1. The Industrial Revolution separated the workplace from the home and
altered the division of labor between men and women.
a. It destroyed the household economy by removing economic
production from the home and taking it out of women’s
b. A man’s work was no longer directly integrated with that of
his wife and children in the home or on the surrounding
c. A woman’s work was now relegated to the home.
2. Davis calls this new economic arrangement the “breadwinner system.”
This system was not typical. It was peculiar to the middle and upper
a. This system has been in decline.
C. The Decline of the Breadwinner System
1. The breadwinner system did not last long.
a. It placed too much strain on husbands and wives.
i. Never before had the roles of husband and wife been so
ii. Never before had women played less than a direct, important
role in producing what the family consumed.
iii. Never before had men been separated from the family for most
of their waking hours.
iv. Never before had men been forced to bear the sole
responsibility of supporting the entire family.
b. Davis regards these events as structural weaknesses in the
D. Declines in Total Fertility
1. The decline in total fertility began before married women entered the
labor force in large numbers.
2. Davis a