WGS250 - Terms and Concepts

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Women and Gender Studies
Josee Johnston

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 arrangement 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 relationships. 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 suggest: It is a natural form of family organization It is the best form of family organization The gendered divisions within this structure are not oppressive Recent changes to family form indicate the decline of the nuclear family The decline of the nuclear family indicates the decline of society Some claim that changes to the family form have been linked to: Violence 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 - Womens contributions to the family economy were seen in terms of SR rather than production Womens access to property (the gains of the family economy) was limited 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 19 C)th 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 family Assumes a family wage & distribution
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