Textbook Notes (363,177)
Canada (158,245)
Sociology (1,479)
SOC101Y1 (470)


13 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

Chapter 10- Family DILEMMAS OF CONTEMPORARY FAMILY Nuclear Family: The man is the breadwinner and the woman has primary responsibility for the children Currently, numerous women are on the path of developing their careers and this requires time leads to the question: When will they have time to have children and how they will care for them once they arrive While womens concerns focus on difficulties of combining employment and child care, men are pressured by Lesbians and gays face even greater challenges creating families in a society organized around heterosexuality and gender divisions Parenthood without a partner is also difficult the task of earning and child care is much stronger on lone parents than couples Inequalities based on social class and the disadvantages women and racial minorities face in the labour force provide for the inhospitable context in which all Canadians build their families Although conventional family patterns are in decline, our society still seems to be organized around nuclear families and the assumption that children are a private responsibility Design of homes which are designed for nuclear families (not intended for extended families) Social policies often assume family membership and men sharing their earnings with their wives hence inadequate child-care facilities are provided for the families needing them Gendered division of labour in Canada, lack of good affordable daycare means that having children is difficult unless the mother becomes a full time homemaker; Men have depended on the emotional support and caring work provided by their wives to keep them happy and productive MYTHS ABOUT FAMILY Women who combine motherhood with labour-force involvement are not mentally and physically healthier than mothers who stay home Babies and toddlers need full-time mothers at home The traditional European family consisted of three generations living harmoniously under one roof In fact, extended-family households (consisting of 3 or more generations) were rare in Europe Children spent much time of their childhood in the care of people other than their parents; and elderly did not expect to be cared for lovingly by their children The heterosexual breadwinner/homemaker family is natural and not the product of the daily efforts of women and men living in particular circumstances THE MYTH OF NATURAL FAMILY One reason for the popular fixation on the heterosexual nuclear family is that it seems to derive from the biology of reproduction Heralded by the news media, arguments based on biological determinism (that Biology produces the family) have one common approach known as evolutionary psychology or socio-biology, which attempts to apply the laws of biological evolution to social behaviour As with physical traits, social behaviour is inherited biologically (behaviour can be linked to specific genes) Over the course of human history, certain behaviours were adaptive because they contributed to reproductive success aggressive males and females who were more nurturing had more offspring together These behaviors were naturally selected and turned up in more and more generations over time todays behaviour is the product of human evolution, and thus it is inevitable The family consisting of a biological mother and father is also a product of evolution because this is most likely to ensure the survival of offspring namely the union of two biological parents in a lasting relationship Although sociobiology accords with common sense, its claims on nuclear family are not supported with observable evidence CONCEPTUALIZING AND DEFINING FAMILY: STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM Structural functionalism argues that an institution (in this case, the heterosexual nuclear family) exists because of the useful functions it performs for the larger society which include Socialization Reproduction Emotional satisfaction Economic efficiency This perspective however has obvious problems Just because an institution performs a social function, there is no reason to assume that some other institution might not perform that function equally well Another problem with functionalist perspective is its focus on how institutions create social order, and its consequent failure to analyze tensions in family life that can generate social change Existing institutions are not necessarily universal or ideal DEFINITIONS How family is defined has practical, as well as methodological consequences State regulated institutions like schools and hospitals often use legal definitions of marriage and family to determine which people will be informed and consulted about the status of someone in the institution (hence a relative with whom a critical patient have less contact with can be consulted over a friend with whom a critical patient has extensive contact and interaction) Accordingly, who constitutes a family member can dictate: Disclosure of confidential information Ability to make decisions on behalf of relative Entitlement to various forms of social support Understanding in research about families Rights and responsibilities follow from definition When some define family, they assume it be a nuclear unit this tendency has often resulted in a focus on the frequency with which nuclear-family patterns appear across history and cultures (they vastly outnumber other forms) Family can be defined as the sets of relationships people create to share resources daily in order to ensure their own and any dependants welfare This definition offers focus on what is of critical importance to both individual survival and generational reproduction across many cultures It does not exclude groupings of people who are in essence functioning as family, though they may lack formal recognition as such The focus of this definition is not on biological reproduction, but rather social reproduction Social reproduction refers to a wide range of activities that maintain existing life and in most cases reproduce the next generation In other words, social reproduction refers to feeding, clothing, and otherwise looking after peoples subsistence needs, as well as emotionally supporting adults and usually nurturing and socializing children A family is just a set of social relationships that work to reproduce life on a daily and a generational basis A LOOK AT OTHER FAMILY PATTERNS Foraging Societies: The Communal Household People acquire subsistence by gathering edibles and hunting live games Foragers live in fairly small camps, or bands, comprising people who are not related by marriage or blood they live off resources available to them and hence can be called nomadic (constantly moving) Although foragers meet their subsistence (survival) needs by doing relatively little work, their inability to accumulate any surplus means that survival depends on reciprocity (mutual benefit) and cooperation among the people living together In addition to sharing, a division of labour by gender and age organizes the acquisition of subsistence where women typically gather and men typically hunt (children and adults typically do not forage for food) The reciprocity (mutual benefit) that is the basis of foragers daily survival no doubt influences the organization of their societies Responsibilities that are assumed by families in our societies (responsibilities that we consider private), are held collectively in foraging societies (this responsibility becomes public)
More Less

Related notes for SOC101Y1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.