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Soc 244- Readings Test 1.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Lina Samuel

Readings for Test 1 Is There a Family? New Anthropological Views Introduction most of our talk about families is clouded by unexplored notions of what families really are like confusing ideal notion with reality This essay is divided into 3 parts: 1) examines what social scientists mean by The Family -focuses on work of Bronislaw Malinowski (family is a human institution) 2) reviews the work of social scientists whom Malinowski refuted 3) draws on the correct insights if 19th century theorists to sketch some implications of viewing The Family not as a concrete institution designed to fulfill universal human needs but as an ideological construct associated with the modern state Malinowskis Concept of The Family The function of nurturance onto a collectivity of specific persons (presumably nuclear relations) associated with specific spaces (the home) and specific affective bonds (love) -social evolution argued that primitives were sexually promiscuous therefore they were unable to become families because children would not recognize their fathers -Malinowski argued this notion by showing that Australian Aborigines, who people thought were promiscuous not only had rules over who can have sexual intercourse with whom during sexual orgies but also differentiated between legal marriages and casual unions. -His book ended all debates claiming otherwise. family had to be universal because it fulfilled a universal need - ARGUMENT 1: a bounded set of people who recognized one another and who were distuinguishable from other like groups - ARGUMENT 2: families needed a basic physical place & home where they could be together and carry out daily tasks - ARGUMENT 3: family members felt affection for one another (over time members fostered close and emotional ties) particular set of emotions/love Looking Backward How it all began -theorists like Frederick Engels & Herbert Spencer attempted to identify the distinctive problems and potentials of their contemporary society by constructing evolutionary accounts of how it all began -economy had moved from promiscuous savage sex to monogamy and individual sex and love --theorists determined to understand the facts and forces that set their experiential world apart (interested in comparative and evolutionary accounts) -family developed capitalist society -argued that incest was the norm and women ruled in matriarchal and peace-loving states -brute force determined the right and wrong -women are and have at all times been defined by nurturing, connective and reproductive roles that do not change throughout time -women: biological and romanticized role; men: agents of all social process -victorians believed that all human social ties have cultural or moral shapes and more specifically, that the particular morality of contemp. family forms are rooted in our intimate relationships and social bonds Toward a Rethinking -central notion in the modern construct of The Family is that of nurturance: relationship that entails affection and love and is based on cooperation as opposed to competition -measuring families using a joint method -Botts distinction of joint differentiated and autonomic families -family is not a concrete awareness that fills concrete needs, rather it is an ideological construct with moral implications Portraying Canadian Families Introduction Carole Smart, British family sociologist lists four ongoing, key debates in family sociology; the demise of the extended family and the raise of the nuclear family the decline of marriage as an economic contract and the raise of compassionate relationships the emergence of child-centeredness as the role and status of children alters the decline of the nuclear family and the ruse of fluid family practice Canadian families have not been able to exist on the earnings of one wage labourer, women and children have contributed to total family income, men have deserted families, and youth and stretched the law. Yet, people declare that the decline of the intact two-parent family is responsible for our most pressing social problems. Family discourses Defined as a dominant or hegemonic discourse, the grand narrative of familialism provides a cultural and social definition of what families are and should be. Our perception of families is a little different than the realities at times. Monogamy: the notion that one man should be married to one woman, does not exist in many cultures and in our society its a principle often violated. Another hegemonic idea is that families are supposed to be nonviolent, supportive, and nurturing. Yet, abuse statistics indicate that both immediate and extended families frequently violate these standards. (2009 movie Precious where African American adolescent raped by her father and abandoned by the traditional school system revealed that underside of family life.) The personal data clashes with the collective, because of the contradiction between reality and idea, and because social and economic conditions continue to shift, debates about the purpose and meaning of families remains. Theorizing Families Determinism Determinists say that families are arenas in which members define and contextualize their assigned roles as providers, consumers and managers of emotional and material resources. Families fulfill things like, psychic and financial wellbeing of dependent children, elderly, and persons living with disabilities. Feminism, antiracism and intersectionality Feminists exposed womens private life as a site for the production and reproduction of oppressive and subordinate relationships. Socialist or materialist feminists saw womens inequality within the family as mirroring their inequality within society. As family sociology tried to build on antiracist and queer principles, theorists introduced notions of intersectionality to capture the complex interplay between structures and practices of gender, class, sexuality, age, ability and race. Intersectionality: claims that there cannot be an understanding of family ideology without also understanding how these structures shape family performances. Postmodernism The changes in biomedical and reproductive technologies as well as the field of genetics have literally transformed the nature of kinship away from the strictly biological to more social definitions. Inheritance and relatedness are no longer biologically based; children are born of surrogates, by fertilization outside the body. Second, critiques of modernity. Women and men are praised for their individual accomplishments achieved through work or leisure or in relationships but they are not praised for subordinating their desires to those of others in their families. Radicalized Families Radicalization refers to processes by which individuals and groups of people are viewed through a racial lens and through culturally invented racial framework, and come to be defined as different and are subjugated to unequal and differential treatment. Transnational families Economic families- the mass movement of people around the world in search of work and capitalism the neo-liberal consolidation of global resources- force individuals to put aside their personal desires and contribute to the collective enterprise of building families and earning a living. Transnational families- dispersion of families, nuclear or extended, across international borders, it results in different family members spending time in one or the other country depending on various factors. Gay marriage and parenting 0.6% of the Canadian couples living in either marital or common law relationships. Quebec has the largest proportion of same sex couples and half of all same sex couples live in three cities: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Interreligious Unions 2.7 million Canadians have a partner from a different religious group. The two largest religious groups in Canada are Protestants and Catholics. Thus, it is not surprising that over half, or 1.3 million people, of the religious intermarriages were between these two groups. Groups who have arrived in Canada between 1991 and 2001- mostly Muslims, hindus, and Sikhs- are less likely to intermarry, maintaining instead the strong martial traditions of their countries of origins. Muslims who do interreligiously marry are likely to choose a Catholic partner. Choosing a partner Women and men want to prefer to marry someone who warns more money and has more education than themselves but would not really consider accepting someone who has trouble keeping a steady job. Women generally want a wealthy, socially stable man and men want an attractive younger woman with whom they are able to have children. Mature singles who do not expect to marry Singlism: refers to the stereotyping and discrimination of people who are single including those who are divorced, widowed or who have never been married. If not married by their early 50s, women are 13 times more likely to never marry than unmarried women aged 35-39. Why have kids? Since 2000 although our fertility rate is growing Canada is still not producing enough to replace our current population. Meaning we rely heavily on immigration to replenish the population. Estimates are that to raise a child to age 18 costs 250,000 Older mothers Women are delaying childbirth. Average age for a mother before was 22 and now is 28. Other than higher levels of education what else accounts for delaying childbirth? Like finding a partner and securing employment. The main reasons for delaying childbirth are, higher education, les involvement in crime, less substance abuse and mental health problems at age 18 and more nurturing and stable home environments. Immigrant families Immigration has been and continues to be vital to Canadas economic and cultural well-being. Despite high rates of education, university-educated immigrants aged 25-54 who arrived in Canada within the previous five years were less likely to be employ
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