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PSYC 3630 Study Guide - Human Capital, Rape Myth, Intersectionality

Course Code
PSYC 3630
Erin Ross

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Chapter 1: Marriage, Relationships, and Family Commitments: Making Choices in a Changing Society
Defining Family
Family: any sexually expressive, parent-child or other kin relationship in which people, usually related by ancestry,
marriage or adoption, (1) form an economic and/or otherwise practical unit and care for children or other dependents, (2)
consider their identity to be significantly attached to the group, and (3) commit to maintaining that group over time.
Functional definitions: the purpose for which a thing exists (e.g. caring for family members, children and other
Structural definitions: emphasize the form that a thing takes what it actually is
Family Functions:
Raising children responsibly
o Ensure that reproduction takes place under circumstances that help to guarantee the responsible care and
socialization of children
Providing economic and other practical support
o Providing practical needs such as food, clothing, and shelter
o Earn a living outside the home and pool together your resources
Offering emotional security
Structural Family Definitions
U.S. Census a family is a group of two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption and residing together in
a household
Household: any group of people residing together
Family structure: the form a family takes
Extended family: parents, children, grandparents, and other relatives (preindustrial or traditional societies)
Nuclear family: husband, wife, and children (Industrial or modern societies)
Postmodern: there is no typical family
Single-parent families
Cohabitating heterosexual couples
Gay and lesbian marriages and families
Three-generation families
Communal households
Postmodern family: acknowledges the fact that families today exhibit a multiplicity of forms and that new or altered
family forms continue to emerge and develop
Adapting family definitions to the postmodern family
David Popence defines family as a group of people in which people typically live together in a household and function
as a cooperative unit, particularly though the sharing of economic resources in the pursuit of domestic activities
Frank Furstenberg defines family as membership related by blood, legal ties, adoption, and informal ties including
fictive or socially agreed upon kinship
Relaxed Institutional Control over Relationship Choices “Family Decline” or “Family Change”?
Social Institutions: Patterned and largely predictable ways of thinking and behaving beliefs, values, attitudes, and
norms that are organized around vital aspects of group life and serve essential social functions
o Meant to meet peoples basic needs and enable the society to survive
Family decline perspective: claims that cultural change toward excessive individualism and self-indulgence has led to
high divorce rates and could undermine responsible parenting
o Reduced the child centeredness and contributed to the weakening of the institution of marriage
Family change perspective: argues that we need to view the family from a historical standpoint
Three Societal Trends that impact families
1) New communication and reproductive technologies
o Communication Technologies: i.e. cellphones, GPS in cars, email, social networking
Access to more social support internet
Source of conflict pornography
Breaking up/divorce is more hurtful if they use facebook
Digital divide: divide those who have access to internet and those who don’t and can’t access the
benefits of computer use
o Reproductive technologies: in vitro, sperm donations, assisted reproductive technology (ART)
Allows infertile couples to have biological children
Raise ethical issues kill excess embryos
Raise inequality issues affordability, choosing traits/gender through screening
2) Changes in America’s race/ethnic composition
o Increasing ethnic diversity
o Transnational families: members bridge and maintain relationships across national boarders

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o Binational: nuclear family members have different legal status
E.g. one partner is a legal resident and the other isn’t
3) Economic uncertainty
o More marriages are delayed until people can earn enough to suppose a family
o More unintended pregnancies because of decrease in purchasing contraceptives
o Fertility treatments are down expensive
o Fewer families will send their children to college/university
o More boomerang kids young adults returning to live with their parents
o More homeless families or more extended families or intergenerational households
o Unemployment raises psychological depression rates
o Delayed retirement
o Inheritances will decline in value
o Child and partner abuse increases
The freedom and pressures of choosing
Structural constraints: economic and social forces that limit personal choices
Family policy: all the procedures, regulations, attitudes, and goals of government, religious institutions, and the
workplace that affect families
* Laws place some families in the margins of society while privileging others
o e.g. laws privilege heterosexual couples by only allowing them to get married
How Social Factors influence Personal choices
1) Easier to make the common choice
o e.g. choosing to stay single longer (more comfortable choice now)
2) Expanding people’s options
o e.g. availability of effective contraceptives makes limiting one’s family size easier than in the past
3) new forms of reproductive technology provide unprecedented options for becoming a parent
Making choices
Choosing by default: unconscious decisions, choices that people make when they are not aware of all the alternatives or
when they pursue the proverbial path of least resistance
o When people pursue a course of action primarily because it seems to be the easiest thing to do
Choosing Knowledgeably
o Recognize as many options as possible
o Recognize the social pressures that may influence personal choices
o Consideration of the consequences of each alternative rather than just gravitating toward the option that seems
most attractive
o Become aware of your values and choosing to act consistently with them
o Rechecking your decision
A family of individuals
Family identity: ideas and feelings about the uniqueness and value of one’s family unit
o Emerges via traditions and rituals (family dinners, celebrations, trips, family hobbies)
Self-concept: basic feelings people have about themselves, their abilities, characteristics and worth
o How family members and others interact with and respond to us impacts our self-concept and identity
Familistic (Communal) Values: values that emphasize the needs, foals and identity of the group
o Family togetherness, stability, and loyalty
Individualistic (Self-fulfillment) Values: values that encourage people to think in terms of personal happiness and goals
and the development of distinct individual identity
2 guidelines on how partners can still stay together
o 1) Take responsibility for own past choices and decisions rather than blaming previous mistakes on their mates
o 2) recognize that a changing partner may be difficult to live with for a while be flexible enough to allow for
each partner’s individual changes
Marriages and Families: Four themes
1) Best way to make choices is knowledgeably
2) Societal or structural conditions can limit or expand our options
3) We live in a society characterized by considerable change which can make person decision making more challenging
than the past
4) We affect out social environment every time we make a choice
Chapter 2 Exploring Relationships and Families
Science: Transcending Personal Experience
The blinders of personal experience: Personal experience
Science: a logical system that bases knowledge on systematic observation and on empirical evidence

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Theoretical Perspectives on the family
Theoretical perspectives: ways of viewing reality equivalent to lenses through which observers view, organize, then
interpret what they see
9 theoretical perspectives related to families:
o 1) Family Ecology
Family ecology perspective: explores how a family is influenced by the surrounding environment
E.g. the relationship of work to family life
Natural physical-biological environment: climate and climate change, soil, plants, animals
Social-cultural environment: human-made things or cultural artifacts such as bridges, phones, and
cultural values that products such as language and law
Stresses the interdependence of all the world’s families
This perspective helps to identify factors that are important to societal and community support for all
This perspective makes the important contribution today by challenging the idea that family satisfaction
or success depends solely on individual effort
Attention to family social policy what can be done about social issues or problems that affect
relationships and families?
Disadvantage it is too inclusive and broad
o 2) The Family life course development framework
Family life course development framework: focuses on the family itself as the unit of analysis
Family life course: based on the idea that the family changes in fairly predictable ways over time
Stages in the family life course:
o 1) addition of subtraction of family members through birth, death, and leaving home
o 2) The various stages that the children go through
o 3) Changes in the family’s connections with other social institutions retirement
from work, child’s entry to school
Developmental task: tasks that must be mastered prior to transitioning successfully to the next stage
Every stage has a developmental task
1) Newly established couple stage (ends with arrival of first baby)
2) Families of preschoolers stage
3) Families of primary school children stage
4) Families with adolescents state
5) Families in the middle years
Death of a spouse marks the end of the family life course
Role sequencing: the order in which major life course transitions take place
Normative order hypothesis: proposes that the work-marriage-parenthood sequence is best for mental
health and happiness
On-time transitions: transitions that occur when they are supposed to rather than too early or too late
o 3) The structure-functional perspective
Structure-functional perspective: investigates how a given social structure functions to fill basic
societal needs
Encourages a family researcher to think in terms of functional alternatives: alternate structures that
might perform a function traditionally assigned to nuclear family
Fictive kin: relationships based not on blood or marriage but rather on religious rituals or close
friendship ties (can be a functional alternative to the nuclear family)
Dysfunction: social patterns or behaviours that fail to fulfill basic family needs
E.g. domestic violence
Basic premise families are an important social institution performing essential social functions
Defines the heterosexual nuclear family as the only “normal” or “functional” family structure
o 4) The interaction-constructionist perspective
interaction-constructionist perspective: focuses on interaction (face to face encounters) and
relationships of individuals who act in awareness of one another
Family identity, traditions, and commitment emerge through interaction with the development of
relationships and generation of rituals
Approach explores ways people construct meanings, symbols, and definitions of events or situations
Externalize meanings meanings become reified (made to seem real) people internalize meanings
and take it for granted as real rather than viewing it as a human creation
Focuses on how family forms are constructed and maintained
Deconstruction: exposing the ways that symbols and definitions are constructed
Postmodern theory: analyzes social discourse or narrative (public or private, written or verbal
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