SOC244H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Nuclear Family, Monogamy, Fictive Kinship
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Soc244 Chapter 1
-Family can be analysed as an institution
-Families are the most basic institution of any society.
-process whereby children learn how to think and behave according to the ways of the society
and the group in which they are born and raised
-Children generally respond according to their personalities, needs and accumulated
experiences, they accept, reject or transform the cultural messages that they receive from
parents and others.
Why are families called an institution?
-institution is a recognized area of social life that is organized along a system of widely accepted
norms that have developed over time to regulate behaviours.
-The elements of organization and norms contribute to the predictability of life, people know
what to expect, it is a shared culture.
-Over time, each society evolves a set of norms or rules that guides the behaviours of family
members toward one another and toward other institutions.
-Other key institutions in a society may be the economic, legal, religious, educational, as well as
the political, the military or even the police.
-These institutions are not equally important throughout the world’s societies.
How can families be defined?
-Task of defining what families are a difficult one these days, not all experts agree in this
-Some want to eliminate the institutional aspect from the definition and replace it with a focus
on close and sexually intimate relationships. Others include networks of friends as a kind of
-In this book, the definition adopted reflects current changes but also retains the institutional
aspect and focuses on the intergenerational dimension of families
-A family is a social group, an institution, an intergenerational group of individuals related to
one another by blood, adoption, or marriage/cohabitation.
-It is a group that endures over several generations. The minimum requirement to meet this
definition at the nuclear level is the combination of two generations in one household, or the
-It can also refer to persons living together who are related to one another through another
generation, such as siblings or cousins.
-The typology of families presented here does not include unrelated single people living
together, even though they constitute a household unit or share an address.
-Such persons are members of their families of origin or of procreation but do not themselves
constitute a family.
-If we choose to include anyone we are close to at the moment, the concept of family will
become so elastic that it will be meaningless and will have no continuity over time.
What is nuclear families?
-a parent and his or her children as well as two parents with their children from the most
elementary type of family
-a person or a couple has a child, whether by birth, adoption or surrogacy, a nuclear family of
procreation is formed
-a grandmother raises her granddaughter, single man who adopts a son, lesbian couple who
share children with a gay man and a polygamous man with his wives and their children
constitute a nuclear family
-a husband a wife, or a same sex couple only fall under the category of couples, they will only
be constituting as a nuclear family once they have their first child
-parents and their adult children who live separately may still consider as a nuclear family
-it will happen in the situation of divorce, which is half of their nuclear family is constituted by
themselves and their mother and the other half by themselves and their father
Horizontal nuclear family
-it happens when brothers and sisters share a same household together without their parents
-there is only one generation involved in this type of family, but this generation originates from
that of the parents
What is extended families?
-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and in laws constitute as a group
-extended families living together under one roof, multi-generational households
-most people belong to an extended family as well as to a nuclear family
- extended families have never been the norm in Canada, except among certain Aboriginal
-three generational households have increased in Canada in the past two decades
-in some ethnic groups of Latin American descent, for instance, friends may be assimilated into
the family as they become godparents to children
Living in one household
-generally involves three generations, at least one parent and his or her child living with
another relative, usually the child’s grandparents or aunt or uncle
In multiple households
-members of a family, including child, parents, grandparents and other ascendants, plus uncles,
aunts and cousins (by blood, marriage or adoption) living in separate dwellings and interacting
on a regular basis
Fictive kinship bonds
-happens when a father’s friend is a frequent visitor to the house, he may be called uncle and
when a mother’s friend becomes an aunt
Types of Union and Marriage
Legal Marriage: socially, legally, religiously sanctioned union, which is generally heterosexual
but could also be of same-sex partners, depending on the jurisdiction involved
Cohabitation: Consensual union that is not legally (common-law) sanctioned but is legally
protected in Canada: It can involve same-sex or opposite sex partners
Living apart together: Union in which the two partners maintain separate residences
Monogamy: A legal marriage or cohabitation involving only two partners
Serial monogamy: Sequence of spouses or partners over time as in the sequence of marriage,
divorce, and remarriage, spouses or cohabitants succeed each other
Polygyny: One man married to more than one woman at the same time
Polyandry: One woman married to more than one man at the same time
-the form of a man married to two or more wives
-is far more widespread throughout the world in the past and is mentioned in the Old