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Textbook/Lecture NotesChapter 15: Families1
•People speak about “the decline of the family”. But they refer to Nuclear Family (consists of a
cohabiting man and woman who maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and have at
least one child), or Traditional Nuclear Family (is a nuclear family in which the husband
works outside the home for money and the wife works without pay in the home also known as
the Cleaver Family Model).
Functionalism and the Nuclear Ideal
Functional Theory of Nuclear Families
•Functionalists believe that for any society to survive, its members must cooperate economically.
(Meaning women perform domestic work while men perform labor works (superior strength).
They must “invest” their time and effort to have a baby in which they can nurture and pass on
the way of the group, so the baby will grow up to be a productive individual).
•Functionalists argued that the nuclear family is ideally suited for regulated sexual activity,
economic cooperation, reproduction, socialization, and emotional support.
•George Murdock states that the nuclear family is based on marriage. (a socially approved,
presumably long-term, sexual and economic union between a man and a woman).
Other Family Forms
•Monogamy: a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any time.
•Serial Monogamy: multiple marriages one after another.
•Polygamy: expands the nuclear family “horizontally” by adding one or more spouses (usually
women) to the household.
•Extended family: expands the nuclear family “vertically” by adding another generation – one or
more of the spouses' parents – to the household.
•In foraging societies, people subsist by hunting animals and gathering wild edible plants. They
are a nomadic groups of 100 or few people. Men hunt and women gather, and also do most of
the child care.
•However, some forager men often tend babies and children, and gather when the hunt is
unsuccessful, and some forager women hunt.
•In foraging societies, children are considered an investment in the future.
•Life is highly cooperative, and relations between the sexes are quiet egalitarian (equal).
The Canadian Middle Class in the 1950s
•Socialization and emotional functions of the family are now most important.
•In urbanized homes, women still mostly worked at home, and the husband was the money
maker. Children enjoyed leisure time to engage in fun activities.
Society “norms” pressured woman to work at home (terms like “quasi-perversion”,
“menace” and “disease” were used to describe a woman's failure to obey the strict gender
division of labor).
•Before world war 2 and during great depression, Canadians postponed marriage because of
poverty. After world war 2, Canadians settled down, most of them owned homes, baby boom
happened, and 90% married men but only 11.2% married women were in paid labor force. The
work created for women DURING WW2 were CANCELED, and returned to “NORMAL”.
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Textbook/Lecture NotesChapter 15: Families2
•A lot of middle class women were trapped by “Orgy of domesticity” = devoting increased
attention to child rearing and housework.
•However, During this time (1940s-1990s), there was actually a DECLINE of nuclear family
shown by trends in divorce rate, marriage, child bearing.
divorce rate rose slowly, the marriage rate and total fertility rate fell.
More women started to work.
•Fertility rate is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her
lifetime if she had the same number of children as women in each age cohort in a given year.
Conflict and Feminist Theories
•many men and women felt coerced into getting married, trapped in their families, unable to
achieve the harmony, security, and emotional satisfaction they had been promised.
•Most women didn't want to leave their jobs during the second world war, they liked working,
they felt independent and they liked the praises.
•After, a lot of women became depressed, and were less satisfied with marriage than husbands
•Friedrich Engels (Marx' friend), argued that the traditional nuclear family emerged along with
inequalities of wealth (wealth passed onto the first son). Only the elimination of private
property and the creation of economic equality – communism – can bring an end to the
traditional nuclear family and mark the arrival of gender equality.
•However, gender inequalities exist in both communism and capitalism.. so communism is a fail.
•Patriarchy also adds to gender inequality.
•Nuclear family: wealth is given to the eldest son concentrates wealth.
Power and Families
Love and Mate Selection
•Now marriages are based on love. Before, and even now in some cultures, love isn't a
prerequisite for a successful marital union.
•Love-marriage first gained currency in 18th century England with the rise of liberalism and
individualism. However, the actual love-marriage only emerged in the early 19th century after
Hollywood and advertising industry begin to promote self-gratification on a grand scale.
•Only 3.5% US male students said they would marry someone they don't love even if the other
person has all the qualities they desire.
•However, love alone doesn't determine mate selection in our society. Three sets of social forces
influence who you are likely to fall in love with and marry
Marriage resources (financial assets, status, values, tastes and knowledge)
Demographic and compositional factors (whom you fall in love with and choose to marry is
determined partly by the size, geographical dispersion, and sex ratio of the groups you
belong to, and the social composition of the local marriage markets you frequent. The larger
your group is, the more likely you are to marry someone of your own group.)
•Endogamy: marrying within your own social group. Encouraged by certain religions.
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