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Chapter 1

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Western University
Sociology 2235
Paul Whitehead

MANDELL CHAPTER 1 Families may seem like “messy puzzles” but Canadians work hard to build close, stable, and reliable unions. o Our media is full of morality tales such as movies like “Complicated” and “Up in the air”  reminding us of what happens to people who disregard and disrespect family units. Carole Smart – British Sociologist Four ongoing key debates in Family Sociology o 1) The demise of the extended family and the rise of the Nuclear family o 2) Decline of Marriage as an economic contract and the rise of companionate relationships o 3) The emergence of Child-Centeredness as the role and status of children alters o 4) The decline of Nuclear family and the rise of fluid family practice. o Family Decline: Comes from the structural demise of the Archetypical 1950’s – two parent, heterosexual, white, middle-class family. o This “OLD” type of family form has been on a decline, especially since 1920’s. Youth crime Poverty Unwed Mothers High School Dropout - Are all attributed to “Family Breakdown” Arguments against marriage are made on the following Deinstitutionalizing factors- condemning the institution of Marriage: - Opposing Cohabitation - Divorce - Single Parenthood Families face daily struggles, and surviving on the Male member’s salary is not enough. o Most youth in their 20’s are under-engaged because of extended schooling leaving them feeling - Infantilized - Financially dependent on their parents The reason for this shifting cultural conditions are - Precarious unemployment - Falling Wages - Decline of the primary industry Yet people choose to be a part of the two-parent family Liberals rally for: - Improve work-family balance - Compress work weeks - Improve work flexibility - Reduce child poverty - Keep the elderly in the labor force - Subsidize the day cares - Bring in Family tax credits Familialism: Provides a cultural and social definition as to what families are what they should be Familialism is both an ideology and a customary practice  that’s the “heart and “soul” of our culture It portrays - How families are supposed to behave - What people can expect from intimate family relationships - Traditionalism and Familialism go hand in hand  we cling to a set of ideas about what families should be like. Certain such Hegemonic(dominant) ideas pertaining to Familiaism are: o Monogamy – principle that one man should marry only one woman - It is not practiced in many cultures o Families are supposed to be 1) Nonviolent 2) nurturing and 3) supportive Not all these principles are followed in all families Ex: Movie Precious – About an African American Adolescent raped by her father, and shunned by the traditional school system  More recent Example of this type of a case would be that of Amanda Todd from British Columbia Dominant White, Middle-class ideals of place, space and intimacy are all social construction’s and norms that portray the ruling class ideas of a family life, However, are NOT indicators of people’s actual behavior. o Families are supposed to function as Quasi Encounter groups where an individuals’ deepest personal expectations can be expressed and achieved o However, now in families individuals have to put aside their personal desires and contribute to the collective enterprise of the family unit. The Post – World War 2 period  Modernist or Determinist theories o Structural functionalism: In the 1950’s o If something is wrong with an individual’s behavior functionalists claim it is because of the family structures o Materialist Approach  If something is wrong with an individual the economy is to blame  Materialists argue that the closer a family approximates a middle-class; economically secure place, the more opportunity members of that unit to have to “Live the IDEAL”  o Families fulfill a number of functions 1) To Secure the psychic and financial well being of dependent children, elderly and persons with disabilities 2) Socializing the young by shaping their values and behaviors – to conform to social expectations 3) Providing people with an explanation of their rights within an institution in which personal identities are closely tied with family roles. We give families moral labels depending on how closely they approximate to social norms o Labels can be “Dysfunctional” & “Fractured” or “Beloved” and “Reliable” Materialists argue that a the closer a family is to the middle class social strata  the more likely they will be to live the “ideal life” The average age at which people first get married is 28 for Woman and 30 for Men. o Most Canadians marry at least once before they are 50 o Marriage Rates are falling in lower socioeconomic groups and rising among the highly educated. In the past 20 years Common Law partnerships have doubled - 63% of the French population in Quebec would prefer to live in common law as opposed to the 46% English population. - Reasons for
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