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Chapter 15

SOCA02H3 Chapter 15: Families

Course Code
Shelly Ungar

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Chapter 15 - Families
Is the family in decline ?
nuclear family: compris e s two ma rried oppos ite sex parent a nd the ir biologica l childre n
who s ha re the s a me residence
traditional nuclear family: is a nucle a r family in which the husband works outs ide the
home for money a nd the wife works within the home without pay
family boundary ambiguities: refe r to a state in which fa mily me mbers a re unce rta in
about who is in or out of the ir fa mily or who is performing ta sks or role s within the fa mily
verticalization of family structures: re fers to the increas e number of living ge ne rations in
a family, a ccompanied by fe wer members within each ge neration “beanpole family”
functiona lists vie w the e ros ion of the nuclea r family a s a n unmitigate d dis a s te r
a host of ‘social ills’ re sult when childre n do not grow up in a sta ble marrie d pa re nt
hous e holds
they want pe ople to pla ce le s s empha s is on individual ha ppine s s a t the expe nse of
fa mily re s ponsibility
conflict a nd fe minis t theorists dis a gree with the functionalis t a s s e s s me nt
they argue tha t it is incorre ct to belie ve tha t families ha ve only one le gitima te form
divers ity of fa mily forms incre a se a s people a da pt to new s ocia l pre s sures
diffe re nt family forms can improve the wa y pe ople live
Functiona lis m a nd the nuclear idea l
five main functions : provides a ba s is for re gula te d s exua l a ctivity, economic coopera tion,
re production, s ocia lization a nd e motional s upport
Polygamy: e xpa nds the nucle a r fa mily horizontally” by a dding one or more s pouse s
(usually women) to the house hold
polygamy is s till le ga lly permitte d in many le ss industria lize d countries of Africa and As ia
the extended family: e xpands the nucle a r family “Vertically” by a dding a nother ge ne ra tion,
one or more of the spouses’ pa re nts to the hous ehold
marriage: is a s ocia lly a pproved, pre s uma bly long term s e xua l a nd economic union
betwee n a ma n a nd a woman. it involve s reciproca l rights a nd obliga tions be twe e n
spous es a nd betwee n pa re nts a nd children
fora ging s ocie ties
noma dic groups of les s than 100 people
ge nder division of la bour is le s s strict than functionalis t a s s ume
the band, not the nuclear family, is the mos t efficie nt socia l organiza tion for providing
everyone with va lua ble food sources
life in fora ging societie s is highly cooperative
socia lization is more a public tha n private ma tte r
middle cla s s north ame rica n familie s in the 1950s
“marriage boom” post world war
avera ge age a t firs t ma rria ge dropped betwe e n 1941 a nd 1956 from 24.4 to 23.4 years
for bride s and 21.6 to 26.1 for bridegrooms
se cond res ult was the baby boom
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