SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Nuclear Family, Gernsheim, Gender Role

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11 Nov 2011
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Soc 214- chapter 1
Formal Definiton:
family: is a legal term involving particular definitions that entail specific rights and obligations
for certain people
people who develop emotional relations with children are not recognize
schools and hospitals uses marriage and family relations to determine which people will be
informed and consulted about the status of a person in a institution
i'll patient may find that family members with whom they ahve had little contact are admitted to
their rooms
someone designates anheir ina will, the “immediate family” has some legal groundsot challenge
that will and claima riht to the inheritance
only recently are some sex partners gaining the rights and privileges that heterosexual spouses
have – health care and Canada pension
as gay and esbian couples have fought for the right to be treated the same as other couples, they
have challenge our definition of family
definition of family is also embedded in immigration law that have shaped immigration to
Canada – many have sponsor their parents, other close kin
immigration have brought different ways of thinking about family to Canada
how marriage partners are best chosen, htye have argued that extended kin groups are important
network of emoitonal and matieral suppor
cultural assumption , the ceoncept informs legislation, policies and practices that governs
our lives- it also shapes decisions we make as individuals about how to live ou lives and it
limits or expands our imagination as we think about the future
census family: a husband and wife (with or no children) or a lone parents with one or
more children who have never married, living in the same dwelling unit
economic family: a group of two or more people who were related to each other by blood,
marriage or adoption who lived in the same dwelling
both defintion: women and man living together were treated as if marriaged- regardless of
their legal status
defintion above has been revised
all of it is a census family as long as the children don't have their own children or
the grandchildren living the grandparents don't have their parents living in the same census
Economic family: regers to a group of two or more person who live in the same dwelling and
are related to each other by blood, marriage, common law or adoption - same or opposite sex –
foster children are included
e.g. Nieces or nephews living with aunts and uncle
By definition, all person who are memebrs of a census famly are also a member of a economic
Margrit Eichler: p.7
“ when definitions based on form, rather than actual social relations or activities and functions, are
used to estalish eligibility for policies supposed to support families, they can threaten the welfare of
some families “
therefore biology and egal status are easily accepted as determinants of family
these defintion can separate needy people from those who give them care and support (e.g.
Visiting rights in hospitals)
probelm to specify relationships determined by blood, marriage or residenxe and exclude social
family and kin are social creations and not products of biology (anthropologist)
biological ties do not establish the domestic groups that provide mutual support and nurturance
of children
the group that lives together , cooperate to produce its subsistence and cares for children has not
alway consist of people tied by blood or marraige
therefore ---- social functions and not biological or residential relations might be the way to
identify family
Different Approaches to Conceptualizing family
Talcott Parson: “the family” - assumes that relations marriage and blood are the only ones that
truly involve a strong commitment to people's welfare and especially to the nurturance of
Structural Functionalist argument – the socieites have to prepetuate themselves biologically and
socially in order to continue
“ the family” is best unit to have and care for children and to ensure the well being of adults and
therefore “the family” was essential and universal
“the family” involved a heterosexual nuclear unit in which there is a division of labour based on
gender and the man assuming the “instrumental” role and the women the “expressive” role – the
breadwinner and the homemaker family
used an language- that implied a universal and separate but equal, gender role in families: he
obscured the power imbalance inherent in gender divisions in heterosexual nuclear families, as
well as the work that is involved in homemaking and childcare
he focused on white, middle Americans was functional and natural – paved other forms –
African American Community
were really closed to common-sense views of family – therefore retain its influence
had to reconceptualized family after feminist theoriest made a public issue
the women's experience of marriage was very different from men- the privaate housework, was
isolating, unrewarding and connected with economic dependency; that was a power differential
central to marriage
inequality and power differential are typically built into family organization
family is sustained by work, and that hte economy influences what goes on in families are
women are entering the labor force and have a choice in whether they want to commit to a long-
term relationship or remaining in one
at the same time, the neo-liberal government have deregulated the labour market, so jobs have
become less secure and more demanding of our time and energy
therefore there are more STRESS in families
Divorce are popular
more people are likely to live alone
people's life course is more diverse
a shift in focusing on individuals
Elizabeth Beck- Gernsheim in “reinventing the family” argues that family life, which used to be
governed by tradition is giving away the “long life planning”
people are refusing in pernament ties and immutable idenities and are increasing involved in
choice making and decisions on how to fashion and refashion their lives
“an individual is moving in and out of families”
Problem for focusing on individuals
most people still live in families and have lasting family relationship- people believe their
emationals needs are best met by finding a partner
espeically for women, life is incomplete if htey don't have children and most assume that they
should be married or in a stable relationshipin order to parent effectively
Gender division is revealed by on going patterns of men's violence against their women partners
it encourages analysis that ignores the many ways in which people's circumstances and thus
organization of society, shape and constrains their lives
e.g. A canadian women who wants to have a baby , find it hard to parent on their own because
given the need to both provide care and earn a livelihood in a society that gives parents
relatively little support with childcare
emphasize our ability to make choices, the effects of implying individual responsibility for any
consequences that our choice might produce
e.g. Women who choose to have a baby often find themselves at home full time feeling
exhausted, stressed and isolated for reasions that involve the social context of motherhood in
this society
no such thing as “the family”- families and experiences varies
family does not exist it is an ideology or symbol system
for some writes, family is a set of ideas and in this society we are all subject to a dominant
ideology about families - familism- nuclear family
How pervasive and problematic familistic ideology can be
smaller household use more resources and generate more garbage than a larger family
divorce is a key contributor to increased resources consumption an climate change
symbol system make social life meaningful and shapes our lives, material reality to personal life
must be understood
Forces creating families
ideology is one of the key social forces that move people to make families
family is the ideological normative concept that recruits people to household relations of
production, reproduction and consumption
emotion and material factors that promote family formation