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Marriage and Families

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Syracuse University
SOC 101

SOC 101 December 5, 2011 Marriage and Family Theoretical Perspectives on Families  Functionalist Perspective o Families meet the needs of society  Regulating sexual behavior and procreation  Reproducing new members  Socializing children  Providing physical care, psychological support and emotional security o Marriage is a mutually beneficial exchange between partners o Rapid social change causes family disorganization (“breakdown”) (changes in religious institutions, higher education, change from factory to service jobs) o Other institutions increasingly perform the functions of the family  Symbolic Interactionist Perspective o The construction of meaning within families  How if family defined?  What is the experience of family members?  How do family members negotiate relationships? o Families emerge as people interact to meet basic needs and develop meaningful relationships o Shape social identities o Change as people develop new understandings of family life  Conflict Perspective (power relationships) o Families reinforce and support power relations in society o Are units through with property and social status are acquired  Essential to creating and maintaining inequality  Passing on inheritance, family heirlooms o Are sites for conflict and diverse interests o Vital to capitalism  Produces and socialized future workers and consumers o Change as the economic organization of society shifts  Feminist Perspective o Family as a gendered institution  Primary agent of gender socialization  Produces gender inequality  Gender division of labor within household  Creates power imbalances between men and women  Shapes the family and social experiences of men and women o System of power relations o Change occurs as society shifts on the gender egalitarian continuum (we become more focused on equality between men and women) Deinstitutionalization of Marriage  “Deinstitutionalization” – Weakening of social norms that define people’s behavior within marriage  Trends that have contributed to deinstitutionalization o Changing gender division of labor o Retreat from marriage o Rise in divorce o Increase
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