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Chapter 1

PSYC 3630 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Nuclear Family, Fallopian Tube, Family Values


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 3630
Professor
Erin Ross
Chapter
1

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Chapter 1: Marriage, Relationships, and Family Commitments: Making Choices in a Changing
Society
DEFINING FAMILY
o family: a family is any sexual expressive, parent-child or any other kin relationship in
which people usually related by ancestry, marriage, or adoption 1) form an
economic and/or otherwise practical unit and care for any children or other
dependents, (2) consider their identity to be significantly attached to the group, and (3)
commit to maintaining that group over time
o definitions of family incorporate both functional and structural components
functional definitions point to the purpose for which a thing exist (ie. what it
does)
structural definitions emphasize the form that a thing takes what it actually is
Family Functions
Family Function 1: Raising Children Responsibly
o society bares the task of raising children responsibly (trained properly in the culture,
and are dependable) to families
Family Function 2: Providing Economic and Other Practical Support
o virtually every family engages in activities aimed at providing for such practical needs as
food, clothing and shelter
o in modern times family economic functions consist of earning a living outside the home,
pooling resources, and making consumption decisions together
Family Function 3: Offering Emotional Security
o in the past the point of family was material maintenance, now its more of a source of
emotional security
Structural Family Definitions
o The U.S. Census Bureau defines a family as “a group of two or more persons related by
blood, marriage, or adoption and residing together in a household”
household: any group of people residing together
but by the Census Bureau definition persons sharing a household must also be
related by blood, marriage, or adoption to be considered a family
o Family structure: or the form a family takes (i.e. nuclear, extended, etc)
Extended family: family including relatives besides parents and children, such as
aunts or uncles
in traditional/preindustrial societies this was included as part of the
family performing most societal functions including economic production
Nuclear family: a family group comprising only the wife, husband and children
the norm in modern/industrial societies
o Today, family members are not necessarily bound to one another by legal marriage,
blood or adoption; the term family can identify relationships beyond spouses, parents,
children and extended kin

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Post-modern: There is No Typical Family
o post-modern family: came into use in order to acknowledge the fact that families today
exhibit a multiplicity of forms and that new or altered family forms continue to emerge
and develop
Adapting Family Definitions to the Post-modern Family
o as family forms have grown increasingly variable, social scientists have proposed and
often struggled with new, more flexible definitions for the family
o legal definitions of family have become more flexible as well
o many employers have redefined family with respect to employee benefit packages
o the authors of the textbook
Relaxed Institutional Control over Relationship Choices: “Family Decline” or “Family Change”?
o social institutions: a system of patterned and predictable ways of thinking and behaving
beliefs, values, attitudes, and norms concerning important aspects of people’s lives
in society (ex. family, religion, government, economy, education)
since the 1960’s, however, family formation has become less and less
predictable
“beginning in the late 1950’s Americans began to change their ideas about the
individual’s obligations to family and society…This change was away from an
ethic of obligation to others and toward an obligation to self”
o two perspectives on why the relaxation of institution over relationships and families:
family decline perspective: view such changes as increases in the age at first
marriage, divorce, cohabitation and non-marital births and the decline in fertility
as disastrous for the family as a major social institution
claim that a cultural change toward excessive individualism and self-
indulgence has led to high divorce rates and could undermine responsible
parents
family change perspective: consider that family has varied over time they
argue family can adapt to recent changes and continue to play a strong role in
society
THREE SOCIAL TRENDS THAT IMPACT FAMILIES
1. new communication and productive technologies
2. changes in America’s race/ethnic composition
3. economic uncertainty
Advancing Communication and Reproductive Technologies
o the pace of technological change has never been faster; new technologies will continue
to alter not only family relationships but how we define families as well
Communication Technologies
o cell phones allow parents and children to be readily reached helps parents monitor
children/teens along with GPS
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