Chapter 8: Family Relations
Much socialization takes place in families- primary agent.
Families affect and are affected by social institutions.
Marriage: Can be defined as a commitment and an ongoing exchange.
Expressive Exchanges: It is the emotional dimension of marriage- including love, sexual
gratification, companionship, and empathy.
Instrumental Exchanges: It is the task oriented dimension- Includes earning a living, spending
money and maintaining a household.
Family: can be defined as two or more people who are related by blood, adoption or some form
of extended commitment.
What is different about a kin vs the family unit?
Kin is not a family. If individuals are related but do not live together they are kin related.
What are the three possible compositions of marriage group?
1) Monogamy: Marriage only involving two partners
2) Polygamy: Marriage involving more than two partners
3) Group Marriage: Marriage involving multiple partners.
Most societies over the world are reluctant to the idea of premarital sex while some are open to
this practice. Example: Trobiand Islanders. Sex is seen for them as a natural expression of
personality and children begin their sexual activities at an early age with a number of partners.
Consanguine Versus Nuclear Bonds
The Yorduba of nigeria provide a good example of the importance of consanguine bonds in a
tribal society. They provide economic security, attend family ceremonies. Both marriage and
reproduction are valued in Tribal societies. Marriage increases the number of alliances with other kin groups and since the marriages are for the benefit of the kin rather than for the couple,
they are usually arranged by parents.
In a nuclear family, the kin network is considerably less important. The emphasis is on the
spousal bond and it is important that the they choose their own partner instead of the parents
choosing for them.
Importance of Marriage
Most societies place a high premium on marriage , at least for the reproduction and socialization
of the young. Cultural norms support the premium on marriage by expecting that the parents of
a newborn be in a state of union.
Sexual intercourse between biological relatives is in in self a taboo in North America. North
American culture believes that marrying outside the nuclear family is best to get other kin group
to relate to one another.
Importance of Inheritance
The importance of passing down property through generations. This creates social relationships
There have been major transitions in Families
The first change brought about smaller families and involved a change in the economic costs
and benefits of children.
There has been a significant change in the age to marry and the ages are increasing from the
times before the twenty first century. In addition, because women and men are postponing their
marriage, many are having less children.
Looking at family through Theoretical Frameworks
Macro or Structural Explanations
Families were apart of the economic production ans sometimes of the political action and
religious observance. Individuals depended on their families for protection and to cope with
problems of age, sickness and incapacity.
Industrialization and modernization brought structural differentiation and separate structures
came to serve different functions in society.
Above was the characteristics in the past, but now the family is looked a bit different which goes
according to the term known as de-institutionalization. Women now are phenomenally taking equal chance in the work economy and are contributing
to the households income.
Micro or Cultural Explanations
Now we must look within families
In non industrialized societies, their emotional gratification through religion and community.
According to Durkheim this is referred to as Mechanical Solidarity- a sense of belonging and
immediate identity with the surrounding community.
In the industrialized world, societies are held together more by Organic Solidarity, a division of
labour whereby individuals are dependent on each other's specialized abilities.
Anticipating Marriage and Mate Selection.
Family Behaviour Over the Life Course
After 1945, the ages to stay at home has dramatically increased.
Sociologists have concluded that the younger cohorts have not yet established a path or
sequence that can be called Typical.
Couples are now living a longer life. The average duration of a marriage is