Textbook Notes (368,501)
Canada (161,931)
Sociology (1,513)
SOC100H5 (538)
Chapter 9

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Nathan Innocente

Chapter 9Today when some people speak about the decline of the family they are referring to the nuclear familyThe nuclear family comprises a cohabiting man and woman who maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and have at least one child Others are referring more narrowly to what we call the traditional nuclear familyThe traditional nuclear family is a nuclear family in which the wife works in the home without pay while the husband works outside the home for money This makes him the primary provider and ultimate authority Some sociologists many of them functionalists view the decreasing prevalence of the marriedcouple family and the rise of the working mother as an unmitigated disaster In their view rising rates of crime illegal drug use poverty and welfare dependency among other social ills can be traced to the fact that so many children are not living in twoparent households with stayathome mothers They call for various legal and cultural reforms to shore up the traditional nuclear family For instance they want to make it harder to get a divorce and they want people to place less emphasis on individual happiness at the expense of family responsibilityOther sociologists influenced by conflict and feminist theories disagree with the functionalist assessment In the first place they argue that it is inaccurate to talk about the family as if this important social institution assumes or should assume only a single form They emphasize that families have been structured in many ways and that the diversity of family forms is increasing as people accommodate the demands of new social pressures Second they argue that changing family forms do not necessarily represent deterioration in the quality of peoples lives In fact such changes often represent improvement in the way people live These sociologists believe that the decreasing prevalence of the traditional nuclear family and the proliferation of diverse family forms have benefited many men women and children and have not harmed other children as much as the functionalists think They also believe that various economic and political reforms such as the creation of an affordable nationwide daycare system could eliminate most of the negative effects of singleparent householdsSince the 1940s functionalists have argued that the nuclear family is ideally suited to meet these challenges In their view the nuclear family provides a basis for five main functions regulated sexual activity economic cooperation reproduction socialization and emotional supportPolygamyexpands the nuclear unit horizontally by adding one or more spouses almost always wives to the household
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