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SOCIOLOGY OF FAMILIES notes midterm 1.docx

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Weiguo Zhang

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SOCIOLOGY OF FAMILIES MIDTERM REVIEW CHAPTER 1 “Traditional family”: includes father, mother and their children Household: refers to people that occupy the same dwelling, related or not Polygamy: one person married to several others Monogamy: marriage to only one person at a time Communal living: a group of people, who may or may not be related by birth or marriage, sharing financial resources and living arrangements Census family: refers to a married couple (w/ or w/out children of either or both spouses), a couple living common law (w/ or w/out children of either or both partners), or a lone parent of any marital status, with at least one child in the same dwelling. A couple living common-law may be of opposite or same sex. Children may be children by birth, marriage, or adoption. ―Children‖ in a census family include grandchildren living with their grandparent(s) but w/ no parents present United church of Canada family definition: by family we mean persons who are joined together by reasons of mutual consent (marriage, social contract, or covenant) or by birth or adoption or placement. Correctional service of Canada family definition: family members eligible to participate in the [private family visiting] program are spouses, common-law partners, children, parents, foster- parents, siblings, grandparents, and persons with whom, in the opinion of the institutional head, the inmate has a close familial bond - In 2005, the federal government passed a law making same sex marriages legal across Canada. Legal definitions are not consistent across the country, or even within provinces Nuclear family: regarded as married parents and their children. Sometimes called the SNAF (standard north American family) The extended family: encompasses the nuclear family and all other relatives Theory: provides a general framework of ideas that can be used to answer questions about the world - When discussing theories, we should keep in mind the following questions: 1. How does the theory account for both change and continuity in family patterns 2. Does the theory show the way society and the family influence each other? 3. What does the theory say about relationships within the family? 4. How has the theory affected the policies and practises of government, social agencies, and others who deal with families? The Ecological Theory Microsystem: consists of the small groups in which people interact face-to-face (level 1) - For adults this might involve family, workplace, and organizations to which they belong. - The microsystem most directly affects the quality of life through relationships with individuals - Each family member has a different microsystem; for example, those of young children may include daytime caregivers Mesosystem: made up of the relationships b/w 2 or more groups of which the individual is a member (level 2) - A child‘s Mesosystem might consist of the relationship b/w family and the daycare centre, or family and school - For parents, the Mesosystem might consist of the relationship b/w family and workplace - (relationships b/w an individual‘s different microsystems) Exosystem: a setting in which individuals do not take an active part, but which has an effect on them through the Mesosystem or microsystem (level 3) - For children, this could consist of expectations in a parent‘s workplace or decisions made by the school board - For parents, it might also involve the school board, which can close the school on a workday for staff development, thus forcing the parents to make special arrangements for childcare - Many of the important decisions that exosystems make and that affect family are not even thought of as family related. Some, such as daycare subsidies for low-income families, obviously are - Governmental decisions, such as the location of major highways, can affect children‘s routes to school or travel time to a workplace - Time demanded from a workplace, especially in order to receive promotions, can disrupt support networks, such as the extended family - Although the exosystem may seem made up of immovable institutions, individuals and groups have often been successful in changing it (such as unions, parental groups) Macrosystem: consists of society‘s ideology and culture (level 4) - These shared beliefs and ways of doing things are, taken together, the basis on which policy decisions are usually made - The microsystem, Mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem all make up the ecological view - The ecological view better explains change that occurs in families than it does change that occurs in society as a whole - Although the theory does address family relationships in the microsystem, its real strength is in its explanation of how society and family interact - The ecological view, for example, can help service providers understand how minority families differ from mainstream ones in their relationships with their extended families and with organizations such a schools, police systems, and social service agencies The Structural-Functional Theory - The structural-functional theory views the family as an institution among other social institutions, such as the legal and educational systems - As such, the family has a structure and function that both connect it with society as a whole and separate it from other institutions - According to this view: 1. The family provides for the physical protection of its members (usually this means someone must provide income to support it) 2. The family cares for the emotional well-being of its members 3. The family produces and shapes new individuals who will, as adults, be prepared to take their place in society. This shaping is called socialization 4. The family bestows characteristics such as ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic status on their children - For structural functionalists, when the family performs all of these functions well, social stability results - A major contribution of the structural-functional theory is its concepts of values and norms, and how they are passed on - Values are social principles accepted by a society as a whole or groups within it (one ex. is the principle of one marriage for life. Many people do not have such a marriage, but may still hold it as their ideal; that is, they value it) - Norms are ways of behaving that are typical of a certain group. Often, social groups feel that norms are also values—that is, that people ought to behave like most others if they are considered worthwhile members of society - Social scripts: the cultural rules that outline what, where, when, how and why we should do something - According to structural-functionalists, the family is organized around 3 statuses: husband/father, wife/mother, and child - A status is a social position that carries expectations concerning suitable behaviour, regardless of who fills the position. This position is termed a role - Structural-functionalists believe that role specialization increases the efficiency of family functioning - In particular, they state that the husband/father is an instrumental(active/doing) specialist and the wife/mother is an expressive (emotional) specialist - In other words, the man is responsible for economic support of the family members and the woman for their physical and emotional nurture - The most important strength of the structural-functional theory is its explanations of how family is related to other institutions and how it contributes to society as a whole - It also emphasizes family strengths, rather than weaknesses - Although it can explain why society maintains values across generations, it is not clear as to why family and society change - Another difficulty is that it is not very tolerant of differences from the SNAF - Anything that departs from the breadwinner-father and the homemaker-mother raising their children—in other words the majority of Canadian families—is regarded as abnormal or defective in some way - Monolithic bias: the tendency to treat all families the same with one correct form and universal functions - Also, the structural-functional view tends to assume that society has one set of norms or values, something that is not true of a multicultural society The Conflict Theory - Conflict theories view the family from the perspective of the society, like structural- functionalism - However instead of emphasizing the positive aspects of the relationship, they stress the negative influences - Conflict theories are particularly concerned with power relationships - Marxism, for example, views the family as a part of a system in which a few people exploit the majority and reap the benefits of their labour - Currently, the most influential conflict-based theory is feminism - Feminists generally agree that family relations/society are based on the power and authority of men, a system called patriarchy - As a result, women are limited in their choices and denied opportunities to develop themselves - This situation is reflected in the imbalance in household responsibility that often occurs when both spouses are employed - This inequality usually begins socialization of earliest childhood - Feminists also point to higher levels of pay in traditionally male-dominated occupations, such as construction, law, and medicine - Traditional ‗female‘ occupations, like providing childcare, preparing and serving food, and cleaning, tend to be lower paid - Conflict theories, including feminism, explain why families and society change—a result of shifts in the balance of power - They point to the way that values in society are passed from generation to generation, and how they affect family life - Conflict theories are not strong, however, in demonstrating how families contribute to society as a whole - Neither are good at explaining why society‘s norms and values for families tend to change slowly The Family Systems Theory - The systems approach has both macro and micro aspects, as in it looks at how the family is connected with society and how individual members interact - A system contains a set of interrelated and interacting parts - For example, if one parent loses his/her job, all family members must do w/ less money - In the family system, there is a complementary of roles. If for ex. one person has the role of a parent, another must be in the corresponding role of a child (husband/wife, sibling/sibling) - Families also contain subsystems, or smaller groupings of members within the family - The most common are the spouse(or marital), parent, and sibling subsystems - In large families the sibling subsystems is often further subdivided into smaller groupings based on sex, age, or interest - In families where the separation of sex roles is marked, there may be clear male or female subsystems. Chores may be divided along sex lines - Some families have missing subsystems such as single parents or childless spouses - Systems and subsystems have boundaries which mark who is a member and who isn‘t - In our society, boundaries have to be open enough to allow interaction with the outside world - With subsystems in a family, children need to interact with adults to receive adequate nurture and have appropriate adult behaviour modelled for them - When new circumstances or problems arise in families, members often use tried-and true methods to bring the situation back to normal, steady state. However at times a family system is pushed further and further from its steady state by changes in the family (ex. job loss, illness, maturing children…) and find that their methods don‘t work. The process of change that the family goes through whether positive or negative is called morphogenesis - The main strength of the family systems theory is its ability to account for the impact of the behaviour of one individual on all members of the family - It also explains why behaviour continues in destructive patterns, even through generations - For these reasons, many therapists use it as a basis for their work with families - However family systems theory as a whole overlooks the experience of individuals, something that is particularly true in cases of wife assault - It also assumes that destructive behaviour is the result of a vicious cycle - This explanation comes suspiciously close to blaming the victim for her own misfortune - Also, theorists often make little or no reference to important social factors, such as unemployment, that affect family life, even though systems theory is quite capable of including such influences Symbolic-Interaction Theory - In contrast to structural-functional and conflict theories, symbolic-interaction theorists use a micro approach to family relationships - They feel that the best way of understanding relations b/w family members is to examine the meanings each sees in other member‘s words or actions - Behaviour and objects gain meaning, or become symbols, through this process of interaction - A major contribution of this theory is an expansion of concepts about roles - In contrast to structural-functionalists, who study roles from the view point of society, symbolic-interactionists study roles from the viewpoint of the individual - The latter concepts are often referred to as ―role theory‖ - According to this theory, individuals develop a sense of self through the attitudes of others and through relationships w/ parents, peers, and others - They also develop a sense of the roles they are expected to fulfill - As they interact with others, individuals can anticipate the behaviour of others and tailor their own to match. This putting oneself in another‘s place is called “role-taking” - Role expectations come from past experiences. For ex, husbands and wives may have different notions on how they should behave in marriage based on experience in their families of origin - Role strain is a sense of discomfort or tension felt by one who has difficulty meeting role expectations - an example is the step mother which only has the role as the biological mother or the stereotypical wicked stepmother, neither of which fits the reality of most families - one value of the symbolic interaction is the emphasis it places on people‘s responsibility in shaping their view of the world
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