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Chapter 1

Sociology 2235 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Ambert, Fictive Kinship, Nuclear Family

Course Code
SOC 2235
Paul Whitehead

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(Ambert) Family Chapter 1
Family most basic institution of any society
Socialization: process where children learn how to think/behave
according to ways society/group in which they‘re born/raised (not
passive, they respond according to their
personalities/needs/experiences) transmission of culture
o Socialization reconstructs gender, racial, economic structure +
Institution: recognized areas of social life that are organized along
system of accepted norms that regulate behaviors
(organizations/norms) contribute to predictability (shared culture)
o ‗Change‘ is a part of every institution despite changes,
institution itself remains while its functions evolve/multiply
o In definition some want to remove the institutional aspect of
family and replace with close/sexual intimate relations no
matter how temporary emphasis on voluntariness ―chosen‖
relational aspects
Stats Canada definition 2002: family is ‗couple of any sexual combo
with or without children, married or cohabiting as well as a lone
parent of any marital status with at least one child living in the same
dwelling, or a grandparent raising a grandchild
o A family is a social group, institution and an intergenerational
group of individuals related to one another by blood, adoption
or marriage/cohabitation minimum to meet definition of
„nuclear‟ is combo of two generations in one household
o Necessary for care of young/helpless and survival of species
despite monogamy
Single people living together thought they constitute household unit,
but not included in definition of family such are members of their
families of origin or procreation past definitions didn‘t include
unmarried mothers or same sex families
o Family policy implications broad definitions i.e. friends
being family problematic analytically (overlaps with
social/support networks) if we broaden definition it may
become useless (not have continuity)
o Membership in a family is an ascribed status while friendships
are acquired status ascription is one of the reasons family
relations tend to be enduring but friendships change over time

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families are enduring i.e. if parents divorce each ex spouse is
A parent and his/her children or two parents with their children form the
elementary type of family when person or couple has a child by birth,
adoption or surrogacy; a nuclear family of procreation is formed what is
important is that a new generation is added, not if the offspring is
biologically related i.e. single man with adopted son, or grandparent taking
care of grand child
o Couples constitute a nuclear family upon arrival of their first child
these couples are members of their own families or origin or
orientation (they belong to/originate from their parents/parents
o In situations of divorce, children may experience binuclear family i.e.
half of their nuclear family is constituted by themselves and their
mother and the other by themselves and their father
o Horizontal nuclear family: when brothers/sisters share a household
together without parents there is only one generation involved, but
which originates from their parents
Other relatives are extended family or kinship group i.e. aunts, in-laws,
Most people belong to both nuclear and extended families
o Multi-generational households: extended families living together
under one roof haven‘t ever been a norm in Canada except in
Aboriginals (the English/French arrived with tradition of nuclear)
o Three-generational households have increased in Canada in the past
two decades immigration and due to return of adult children with
their own children home
These extended families live in cities (48% contain one or two
grandparents with a single parent and his/her kids)
o Level of exchange between extended and nuclear depends on co-
residence, proximity of neighborhood, emotional reasons (relations
with extended optional in N. America except for
Newly arrived families are kinship oriented (institutionalized,
exact rules of behavior, reciprocity) compared to average
Canadian born
Fictive kinship: (Latin America‘s compradazgo) when friend becomes
relative Inuit groups extend kin system to kin of kin

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Types of Union and Marriage
Two types legal in Canada = marriage/common law unions between
one man and one woman or between two persons of same sex
Polygamy types polygyny (man married to two or more women)
and polyandry (woman married to two or more men) polygyny has
resurfaced and is receiving attention but overall polygamy is a
minority phenomenon even in countries where legal women likely
to enter polygamous when with little education, rural, poverty
o Polygamy rooted in agrarian society where men benefitted from
having help of wives on land (wives/kids signs of wealth)
o Sex ratio imbalance: arises where polygamy is practiced by a
segment of the population when men have more than one
wife, then not enough wives left so have to wait till they‘re
older or marry someone young i.e. as is done in
Afghanistan/Yemen (9-14 years)
o Polygamy practiced in rural area where agricultural activities
many birth of many sons and co-wives have more space to
establish separate residences with kids in patrilocal compound
o Effects on children of polygamous marriages depends on
cultural/socio-economic context in which they are i.e. cases in
Asia cant be applied to Canada when move to Western cities,
multiple wives cant have multiple homes so live together
hard to estimate how many polygamous in Canada due to recent
immigration from African/Asian countries i.e. some immigrate
as sisters of husband even though wife
o When law of society i.e. Canada doesn‘t allow multiples, one
wife may not be protected if not considered legal though the
Ontario Family Law Act may provide spousal support/welfare
(but many not aware of these)
o Polygamous immigrant families face challenges adapting to
new country, adapt to different legal family situation
law/criminalization of wife abuse
o Success of polygamy depends on sociocultural context in which
family lives (plus fair treatment received) polygamous (key
indicator of social inequalities in societies throughout world)
more problematic than monogamous
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