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Chapter 11

SOC103H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Conventionalism, Homography, Symbolic Interactionism


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC103H1
Professor
Lorne Tepperman
Chapter
11

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Chapter 11 Families and Socialization
- Family is any social unit, or set of social relations, that does what families are popularly imagined to do
o Teach children the rules for living in human society (social rules)
o Highly variable in present-day Canada
Nuclear family living
Extended family
Cohabiting family
Single-parent family
Same-sex couple
o Entitled to the same rights and respect as the traditional family
- We need to judge the satisfactoriness of families not by their forms, but by their processes
o The ways they do their family business
o The growth of diversity among families
o The different social processes in families of different types
o The different levels of adaptability and cohesiveness
o The different kinds of parenting
o The way children are socialized makes a difference to children, families, and society
- Varies in composition (number, gender, ages) and patterns of interaction (each member’s behaviour towards the others)
o Primary unit of society
o Agents of socialization
o In present-day society, norms about what constitutes a family are changing quickly and seem much more open to
personal interpretation
Polygamy
In some countries, polygamy is common
In Canada, monogamy has been the norm
o Canada supports multiculturalism, but considers polygamy sexist and exploitative
o This seems contradictory
Divorce
In some countries, divorce is highly discouraged
In Canada, divorce is common, legal, and understandable
Family size
Today, most people have children in their 30s and tend to have fewer children
One century ago, families needed many children to till the fields or earn incomes
Ways of looking at FAMILY LIFE
- Functionalism
o Focus on universal truths about family life
Family as a central institution in society
Changes in the family mirror changes in the larger society
o Modern industrial family life
Requires more specialization and coordination
Accomplishes several important functions
Regulation of sexual behaviour and reproduction
Provision of physical (food, shelter) and psychological (nurturing, learning) needs of its members
Socialization of children
o Talcott Parsons and Robert Bales division of labour in families
Husband performs the role of breadwinner, decision-maker, and source of authority and leadership
Wife performs the role of homemaker, nurturer, and emotional centre
However, the roles of the husband and wife have changed so much
Specialization may no longer be possible or useful
o Ronald Immerman and Wade Mackey almost all marriage systems across the world support monogamy
Reduces the number of sexual partners
Limits the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases
Reduces out-of-wedlock births, infant morbidity, violent crime, and lower educational attainment
Functions better than polygamous societies
Increases the survival capacity of society and its members
o Linda Waite cohabitation is inferior to traditional marriage
Cohabitation
Less permanent

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Fails to provide the economic and psychological benefits of marriage
Less likely to draw support from extended families
Provides less support to children and spouses during crisis
Traditional marriage
Increases the survival capacity of society and its members
- Critical theories
o Focus on political and economic changes in society to explain changes in family life
o With industrialization, families moved from being self-sustaining productive units (farming households) to
consumption units (dual-income households)
Dependent on outside sources of income to meet their survival needs
Men sold their labour power in exchange for an income
Women gained exclusive control over the task of social reproduction (becoming responsible for
children rearing, food preparation, provision of emotional support) without financial remuneration
o Exploitive capitalism increased gender inequality and gender differentiation
Dependence turns into subordination
Capitalist economy affirm gender differentiation by giving men preferential access within the labour market
Men depend on capitalists for a living wage
Women depend on men
- Symbolic interactionism
o Focus on the ways members of a family interact with one another and the ways they resolve conflicts
o Social constructionism
Focus on the development and use of family ideologies (family values) promoted by right-wing religious
leaders and conservative politicians in the US
Politicians channel hostility towards single mothers, gays and lesbians, and divorced people
Social constructionists channel hostility towards people who are most in need of support
o Channel money away from child care, health care, or education
o Channel money into policing and imprisonment
Minorities are accused of failing to lead moral family lives or instill family values in their children
Traditional ideologies are used to hurt vulnerable families in order to preserve family life
Ways of looking at SOCIALIZATION
- Functionalism
o Socialization normally occurs from top-down (children internalize social norms and learn to conform to the roles and
expectations of society)
Creates social conformity and consensus
Produces social integration (an outcome of internalized behavioural expectations)
o Criticism
People are not completely shaped by the norms and expectations of society
Over-socialized view of human nature
Assumes that gender differences, thus gender inequalities, are natural and inevitable
E.g., functionalists argue that women receive lower incomes in the job market because they hold
lower-paying jobs, and they hold lower-paying jobs because they were socialized as women to seek
such lower-paying jobs
o On the contrary, feminists argue that women are socialized in the same way as men but will
still face structural barriers if she pursues a male-dominated career
o Thus, gendered socialization is not the only factor in gender inequality
Adorno top-down socialization might produce conformity and conventionality, but it also produces anger,
superstition, prejudice, racism, and homophobia
Fails to address that most socialization is from the bottom-up (children teach themselves and one another)
Peer socialization is important as parent socialization
- Social interactionism
o Cooley and Mead people participate in their own socialization through social interaction
Both interested in how a child develops a sense of self and the role of the family in that development
Cooley believes children have the capacity for self-development, which is achieved through social interaction
Even though parents socialize the child through language, punishment, and other means (top-down),
the child sees and evaluates himself according to how others see him (bottom-up)
Looking-glass self is one’s self-evaluation based on how others him- or herself
o We imagine how we appear to others and react to this with pride or embarrassment
o We adjust ourselves to the outside world
o We change our behaviour to increase our pride and decrease our embarrassment
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Mead believes the self-concept is made up of two components (the I and the Me)
The I is the self that is spontaneous, creative, and unique
The Me is the self that is developed for social purposes, by internalizing societal norms and values
Child’s play in the public playground is central to successful socialization
o Offers children an opportunity to practice socially learned roles and expectations
o Children develop a concept of the generalized other (an individual’s notion of the attitudes
and expectations of society at large) through play and early interaction
o Children develop a self-concept
Classic studies: World Revolution and Family Patterns (1963)
- William Goode
o Reviews changes in family organization around the world in the 20th century
o Examines the relationship between changing family patterns and industrialization
o The influence of industry on family life
Family patterns everywhere are moving towards the nuclear family model
Nuclear family is a group that usually consists of a father, a mother, and their children living in the
same dwelling, in which there are no more than three relationships (between spouses, between
parents and children, and between siblings)
Encourage smaller, more flexible family units, which are more flexible to meet industrial changes
The family unit is smaller because it is a self-sustaining unit of production and consumption
The family size is smaller because of the increased use of contraception and decreased birth rate
Role relations within families have changed
Individual family members have more freedom
Parental authority over children has declined
Women’s rights have increased
Husband’s control over wives has decreased
Dowries and bride payments are disappearing
Increased acceptance of changed social morals and virtues
Greater acceptance of divorce, contraception, abortion, cohabitation, and premarital sex
o Family demands (housework, child care) act as barriers to a complete takeover of family life by work
Family systems resist change, but changes are inevitable given the demands of industrialization
Change toward a nuclear family form does not occur at the same rate throughout the world
Nuclear families have occurred before industrialization
Extended families have persisted despite industrialization
Extended family is multiple generations of relatives living together, in which there are more than
three kinds of relationships present
o Predicted the structure of Canadian families has been increasingly diverse
Traditional nuclear families are still the norm
The married-couple families have decreased (83% 69%)
The number of cohabiting, single-parent, and same-sex families has increased
o Predicted the decline in marriage rates (61% 48%) in Canada
The number of unmarried people is greater than the number of married people
The increase in unmarried (never married, divorced, separated, or widowed) people (39% 52%)
o Predicted the change in the recognition of same-sex married couples
0.6% of all couples are same-sex couples
16.5% married
o Most same-sex married couples are men
83.5% cohabiting
16.3% lesbians live with children
2.9% gays live with children
50% live in Canada’s three largest metropolitan areas (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
o Predicted the increase in single-parent families (11% 16%) and cohabiting couples (6% 15%) in Canada
o Predicted the increased rate of relationship dissolution (including divorce) in Canada and other developing countries
Reflects the increased prevalence of cohabitation
Cohabiting couples are more likely to break up than married couples, especially for people under 30
Cohabitating couples (4 years) last for a shorter time than married couples (14 years)
Note that cohabiting breakups are not documented as frequently as separations and divorces
- The idea of family
o The family changes described above is evidence that people are turning away from the responsibilities of marriage and
parenthood, but public opinion polls find that family life is still important to Canadians
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