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WGS250H5 Study Guide - Common-Law Marriage, Nuclear Family, Substance Abuse

Women and Gender Studies
Course Code
Josee Johnston

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Concepts for Review
1. Census Family
Married couple + children (if any)
Common law couple + children (if any)
Lone parent + at least one child
Grandchildren + grandparents (no parents)
All family members living in one dwelling
Couple may be opposite or same sex
Children by birth, marriage or adoption
Children not living with their spouses and/or children
2. Economic Family
A group of two or more persons who live in the same dwelling & are
related by blood, marriage, common law or adoption.
Same or opposite sex couples.
Foster children included.
All persons who are members of a census family are also members of an
economic family.
Broader concept than census family
3. Nuclear Family
Many conceptions of family emphasize or assume a nuclear family
This family form is often seen as ‘natural’, ‘normal’ and universal
In reality, it is a recent phenomenon, an not nearly as widespread
as thought.
Many debate the benefits of this family form
According to Fox & Luxton, nuclear family is often what we think
of as ‘family’: Normalized & universalized, historically & culturally
specific. Nuclear family = marriage, children, heterosexual, ‘blood’
Emphasizes biological (blood) relationships
Emphasizes heterosexual family form and traditional marriage
Regarded by some (Malinowski, Parsons, Popenoe) as the best
family form, particularly for raising children and benefitting society
Some (Popenoe, most recently) are concerned about what they
perceive as the decline or demise of the nuclear family
Malinowski, Popenoe & other defenders of the nuclear family
It is a natural form of family organization
It is the best form of family organization
The gendered divisions within this structure are not

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Recent changes to family form indicate the decline of the
nuclear family
The decline of the nuclear family indicates the decline of
Some claim that changes to the family form have been linked to:
Teen suicide
Drop-out rates
Substance abuse
Unwed &/or teen mothers
Sexual activity outside of marriage
4. Gendered division of labour
Ascribes certain tasks to individuals on the basis of perceived abilities
based on gender.
Often follows well-worn gendered stereotypes
Frequently unequal; with less valued tasks ascribed to less valued
members of a social group (i.e. women, people of colour).
Often intersects with other oppressions: class, racialization, ability,
sexuality, etc.
5. Neo-liberalism
6. Social Reproduction
Daily and generational reproduction of the labouring population
Women seen as reproducers of family, culture, tradition and nation
This can be a powerful role for women, but it can also be a source
of oppression/control
Often associated with an unequal gendered division of labour
7. Patriarchal Productive Relations
According to Cohen, it is “the organization of labour in which
males… have power over the productive activities of their children, wives,
and sometimes their sisters and mothers”
8. Family Economy/Domestic Economy family form
According to Cohen, it implies shared income, and shared labour;
assumes equal redistribution and equal investment (i.e. labour) though this
is not always the case.
Griffin Cohen demonstrates that women in the Family Economy -
Women’s contributions to the family economy were seen in
terms of SR rather than production
Women’s access to property (the ‘gains’ of the family
economy) was limited

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Most women only had ownership of property, children,
goods, chattel through their relationships with men (as husbands,
fathers, sons, brothers)
Suggests a relationship of dependency rather than equal
participation & benefit
Family form & relations closely related to context:
Economic form/context
Social/ideological/moral context
Cultural norms & beliefs
9. Male Breadwinner family form
Male breadwinner model (emerging in 19th C)
Assumes a female caregiver
Assumes sufficient income & ‘sharing’ of income
Reliance on male paycheque, economic security ‘earned’ by women by
their work in the home
Patriarchal/Male Breadwinner Model:
Husband/father seen as responsible for economic well-being of the
Assumes a family wage & distribution
Wife/mother seen as responsible for household & personal care of
family members & esp. children
Women are viewed as dependents; assistance paid to male
household head
10. Dual Earner family form
Each partner is seen as independent & responsible for their
own support
Mother & father seen as responsible for household &
personal care of family members & esp. children
Seen as ‘race’ and gender neutral
11. Civil Marriage Act (2005)
Civil marriage is defined as “the lawful union of two persons to the
exclusion of all others”.
This legislation paves the way for same sex marriage.
Religious organizations are not expected to sanction same sex
Provincially-appointed Marriage Commissioners are the main
officiates of civil marriages.
12. Common law marriage
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