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Chapter 6 Families.docx

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SOC 103
Tonya Davidson

SOC103 How Society Works CHAPTER 6 Families MODULE 6.1 – Defining Families  Two dominant family forms: 1. Nuclear family: and adult male, adult female, and their offspring 2. Extended family: multiple generations of adults living with their spouse s and children  Family orientation: the family into which one is born  Family of procreation: the family one creates by having children or adopting children  These concepts make it possible to find yourself as a member of multiple families simultaneously  Definitions of family outlined above involve economic relationship, heterosexuality, children, and common residence; none include same-sex couples or common-law couples, lone-parent families, or couples without children CANADIAN DEFINITIONS  Statistics Canada uses two definitions of family: 1. “Married couple (with or without children of either or both spouses), couple living common-law (with or without children of either or both partners), or a lone parent of any marital status, with at least one child living in the same dwelling. A couple may be of opposite or same sex. ‘Children’ include grandchildren living with their grandparent(s) but with no parents present.” 2. “A group of two or more persons who live in the same dwelling and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common-law or adoption. A couple may be of opposite or same sex. Foster children are included” THE EXPANDING BOUNDARIES OF FAMILY  (Margrit Eichler) important aspects of families are socialization, emotional relationships, residence, economics, sexuality, and reproduction o Not all dimensions need to be present simultaneously, though, for a social arrangement to be understood as a “family”  Defining family, both socially and legally, has important consequences, not only for individual lives but also for how we are situated in relation to social institutions MODULE 6.2 – Sociological Approaches to Families FUNCTIONALISM  Functionalist perspective of family is understood to be a major societal institution and accomplishes certain social functions: o Provide individuals with love, and emotional and economic support o Regulate sexual expression and reproduction o Socialize and discipline children o Establish and reproduce social status through the wealth of parents and through inheritance from other family members  (Talcott Parsons) with industrialization families no longer functioned as economic units of production; functions associated with families became more specialized, with specific roles developed for men, women, and children o Emotional role: responsible for emotional well-being of family members and the socialization of children; role of women o Instrumental role: responsible for engaging in paid labour outside the home; role of men o Parson’s approach asserts elevation of the nuclear family as being “functional” and “natural” allowed for other family forms to be cast as “deviant” or “dysfunctional” CONFLICT THEORY  Perceive that inequalities inherent in the larger society are perpetuated inside families; the family is organized to meet the needs of capitalism and to serve ruling class interests SOC103 How Society Works  Conflict is what drives social change; through reform and revolution, social conflict can be minimized or even resolved altogether  (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) industrial revolution radically altered family forms o Families no longer organized around producing for own consumption; they were purchasing goods and services in the marketplace  Highly dependent on business owners for wages from labour and material survival o As societies industrialized, those who were able to provide the necessities of life amassed social power (mainly men); women commanded lowest wages and were dependent on male wage earners  Social reproduction: the activities required to ensure the day-to-day and generational reproduction of the population o Immediate needs are taken care of at home, thus enabling them to return to work the next day  Domestic labour: the activities required to maintain a home and care for the people who live in it (i.e. housework, managing money, and care giving of children SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM  Investigate how family members’ behaviours are shaped by their definitions and interpretations of particular situations o Symbolic meanings vary from one family to the next, and may vary among members of the same family unit  Symbolic interactionists tend to explore families as cooperative groups with shared interests  (Erving Goffman) argues we play roles in daily life where interactions will fluctuate depending on the situation, the setting, and the expectations of those whom you interact o Role strain: the stress that results when someone does not have sufficient resources to play a role or roles FEMINIST THEORY  Feminist theory holds that families remain primary sites for the continued subordination of women  No one family form is inherently natural or functional; family forms are specific to both time and place o Even the process of conception and childbirth are socially constructed and thus vary from one society to another  (Margrit Eichler and Janet Finch) argues holding up the nuclear family as the ideal has harmful consequences for women o Stress that imposing one family model that privileges men and subordinates women through its very structure is indeed a political and ideological exercise  At macro level, focus on how social structure (i.e. laws, social politics, and labour) enable and sustain inequality o Challenges assumption that family life is private and separate from public spheres of life  Social and economic policies can (and do) affect family life; marriage and divorce laws; laws concerning adoption, custody, and child support, tax benefits concerning children and child care all
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