Lecture 2: Family in Transition
The staging of everyday family life: looks at family as a social institution that involves decision making
Family as a social institution at a macro: structural changes such as work (paid employment, nature of
work, economic changes, globalization, recession limits control of an individual over the conditions that
one is paid for his or hers labor. This affects what we decide to put out/buy. For example, at a grocery
store, they have foods from other parts of the world – people buy different ethnic foods. This shows
that life is affected by local and global factors such as movement of foods, products and human beings.
Overall patterns: need more info -___-
Positive effects: it allows families to leave or go to other places in the world/have more
diverse lifestyle/maintain their own desirable lifestyles
Negative effects: growing in income equalities, recession in Europe, immigrant communities
Extra: The instabilities of paid employment make it challenging for people to organize their
family life for example: the family dinner, what time, where, how many times a week, there
are many factors that affect that
Family as a social institution at micro involves: practices and activates. Decisions made are related to
the macro structural forces.
Deliberate, personal effort: Because of the macro structural context which there is a limited
control – individuals need to make deliberate and personal efforts to have family dinners,
celebrate bdays within a family. The concept of staging emphasizes on deliberate effort to
take all factors into consideration that are internal, external, personal or structural
This involves On-going negotiation: such as who cleaned the toilet, who cooks, who cleans,
Extra: Men are breadwinners and women are homemakers .families must live on 2 incomes –
heterosexual relationship men and women need negotiate where to send kids to school,
vacation – these are all on going
Include – major decisions – where to live and buy a house, mortgage
The notion : allows us to take a closer look of what happens in family life's
Family Size: determines what kind of family life an individual will have for example: if the person is an
only child, (their kids will not have an uncle/aunt) vs. If the person is not an only child (vice versa) Lecture 3: Economies of Courtship: Gender, Class and Matrimonial Transactions in Egypt
Three types of marriages
1. Frustrated love: Engagement broken off because of their inability to finance the establishment
and maintenance ex) cannot buy furniture and blames inflation and low wages
2. Love Postponed: Engaged for six years while they saved up to afford the goods necessary for a
respectable marriage. Explained she would have liked to marry at an earlier age – but it was two
expensive – father could not help his son/buy a house, chairs and shit.
3. Forbidden Love: Entered into a secret marriage when his parents, who he depends on for his
livelihood, objected to the match because she was divorced. The two individuals entered a
“secret marriage”. He was dependent on his parent's income, he had no money. They had only a
marriage contract, two witnesses seen – everyone else was clueless
Cost of Marriage
Who? Incurred by brides, grooms, and their families.
What? Expenditures on housing, furniture, appliances, jewelry, celebrations, etc.
When? During courtship and engagement.
Where? Contemporary Egypt.
How? Customs govern who pays for what, but the level and timing of expenditures are negotiated
by brides, grooms, and their families. Ex) 300 dollar band or 12000 diamond ring – involves a level
of expenditure, time -> involves negotiation how much they should spend on objects
Why? To symbolically mark a new life-stage and the new relationships that come with it. To
prepare the newlyweds to set up a new family.
Extra: Material object – such as gifts or a purchase of a home as a functional important. It sets up for a
new family and has a symbolized meaning as well. That is a social commitment to someone's
family and individual taking on his or hers new role as well (as a wife/husband/mother/father)
The Egyptian Context of Marriage: For most Egyptians, marriage is the only pathway to residential
independence and sexual activity
• “Love” versus “arranged” marriages: introduced by either an aunt/uncle/they were given a
chance to date.
• Marriage stages for Muslims:
1. Engagement: iswhen your suppose to fall in love, if you're not in love it is a wise choice
to break it off (normal and not frowned upon)
2. signing of the marriage contract: formal signing of a marriage contract signed by an
Imam or Sheik
3. marriage: • Marriage stages for Christians: engagement, marriage
• This is how courtship/marriage work
The Egyptian Context: Economy & Labor Market: Today young people are entering a labor market
where unemployment is high, jobs are informal and wages are low. Economic conditions are hard,
lacking in social protection, social insurance, medical insurance. However, they are better paid than
formal jobs but do not carry any benefits. While unmarried youth have no children to support
(youngmen) have to finance their own marriages. (69% of young ppl earning wages and falling below
the poverty line)
Possible Explanations for the Rise and fall of Marriage Costs
• Family nucleation –extended families made up of a number of nuclear families which are
• Changing consumption standards – (washing machines, ipods, furniture, refrigerators) all
increase the cost of marriages because they are regarded as being necessaries in which you
can't live without – so you got to purchase it
• Employment patterns: migration for men diminished,
Possible Consequences of the Rise and fall of Marriage Costs
1. Delayed marriage: as the cost of marriage increase, people delay in order to save up to for
marriage expenses ex) diamond ring, celebration
2. Never marriage: The High cost of marriage make people not want to get married. Once past a
certain age your market value drops
3. Secret marriage: This type of marriage is at a rise. A secret Marriage:
How have the costs of marriage changed over time? The cost of marriage rises and declines (for
middle and upper classs). The marriage costs for the poor have dropped.
Why have the costs of marriage changed over time? Men's migration opportunities have diminished as
a result they are spending less on marriage. Little is known about consumption standards, but it is likely
that couples see more and more goods as ‘necessary’ for married life (expensive) and the Nuclear
families have become more and more common over time, so family nucleation cannot explain the trend
of rising then declining marriage costs.
With what effect have the costs of marriage changed over time? Little is known about secret marriage
rates; however, women and men have been marrying later. Rising/Falling marriage costs do not appear
to have influenced marriage timing. Very few Egyptians never marry, and never-marriage does not
appear to be affected by trends in marriage costs. What Explains Gender Differences in the Determinants of Marriage Timing?
Men: Why men's marriage timing is more sensitive to labor, market experiences (afford marriage
expenditures because the groom has to deal with much of the costs regarding the new union/cultural
expectations (breadwinners of their household)
Women: why women’s marriage timing does not respond to their labor market experiences: (cultural
expectations are that women will devote themselves to domestic duties after marriage/Couples cannot
expect the wife to contribute substantially to the household’s income, so they do not factor her labor
market position into marriage timing decisions)
How do high marriage costs affect marriage timing today? Affects men more than women (timely
marriage), men often marry later because they either never worked or been unemployed, However,
high marriage costs are only part of the picture. These men also postpone marriage until they are able
to fulfill the breadwinner role.
Do Women Benefit From High Marriage Payments? Yes, if the marriage were to end, a women can
claim all assets her/husband bought together such as appliances, furniture (have some barging power
for the women). Men are expected to provide the marital home – the wife can have everything but the
home. So basically the wife would have to go back to her parents home, brothers, sisters whatever.
Why Do People Insist on High Marriage Costs? (Research has emphasized functional importance of
marriage expenditures and symbolic importance) One aspect: it makes sense for you to need to set up a
functional home. This includes clothes washer, fridge (needed on a daily basi