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Chapter 12: Life at Home Families and Relationships

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1 Chapter 12: Life at Home Families and Relationships

2 What Is the Family? The U.S. Census Bureau defines family as two or more individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption living in the same household. According to sociologists, a family is defined as a social group whose members are bound by legal, biological, or emotional ties, or a combination of all three. People in what sociologists define as a family may or may not share a household but always are interdependent and have a sense of mutual responsibility for one another’s care. This more open-ended definition takes into account the diversity among today’s families. 2

3 What Is the Family? (cont’d.)
An extended family is a large group of relatives, usually including at least three generations living either in one household or in close proximity. Kin is defined as relatives or relations, usually those related by common descent. Extended family most commonly includes a family with children and one or more sets of grandparents, although that is not the only arrangement. When you think of kin, you might think of the family that you see at a reunion. You may know some of the people that you see, but there are also probably people you don’t know, or at least that you don’t know well. However, some common ancestry ties you together and makes you kin or kinfolk. 3

4 What Is the Family? (cont’d.)
A nuclear family is a heterosexual couple with one or more children living in a single household. When we think of nuclear families, we tend to think of “traditional” families; however, it is important to note that nuclear families don’t necessarily include a married couple. There are many different ways that a nuclear family can be formed, but you can think of it as a heterosexual, two-parent household with children. 4

5 Diversity in Families Endogamy refers to marriage to someone within one’s social group (such as race, ethnicity, class, education, religion, region, or nationality). Exogamy refers to marriage to someone from a different social group. Endogamy tends to be more common for a variety of reasons. We still tend to have de facto segregation in our society (as a result of housing patterns, economic patterns, etc.), so we tend to meet people of similar backgrounds. There are also social pressures to marry people of similar backgrounds. Exogamy is becoming more commonly acceptable, but is still less common than endogamy. 5

6 Diversity in Families (cont’d.)
From the time of slavery through the 1960s, many states had antimiscegenation laws (the prohibition of interracial marriage, cohabitation, or sexual interaction). Anti-miscegenation laws were effectively ended by the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S 1 (1967). This was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9–0 vote, declared Virginia’s antimiscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, unconstitutional, thereby ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. 6

7 Diversity in Families (cont’d.)
Monogamy, the practice of marrying (or being in a relationship with) one person at a time, is still considered the only legal form of marriage in modern western culture. Polygamy, a system of marriage that allows people to have more than one spouse at a time, is practiced among some subcultures around the world, but is not widely acknowledged as a legitimate form of marriage. You may hear of polygamous relationships, even in the United States. Individuals may claim to be married to multiple people, but those ties have no legal meaning and would not hold up in a court. 7

8 Diversity in Families (cont’d.)
The more common form of polygamy is polygyny, which is a system of marriage that allows men to have multiple wives. Polyandry, a system of marriage that allows women to have multiple husbands, is a more rare form of polygamy. 8

9 Sociological Perspectives on the Family
Structural functionalism views the family as one of the basic institutions that keeps society running smoothly by providing functions such as producing and socializing children, economic production, instrumental and emotional support, and sexual control. 9

10 Sociological Perspectives on the Family
Conflict theorists believe that society revolves around conflict over scarce resources, and that conflict within the family is also about the competition for resources: time, energy, and the leisure to pursue recreational activities. 10

11 Sociological Perspectives on the Family
Symbolic interactionists examine the types of social dynamics and interactions that create and sustain families, emphasizing the ways that our experiences of family bonds are socially created rather than naturally existing. 11

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13 Forming Relationships, Selecting Mates
The process of selecting mates is largely determined by society, and two concepts (homogamy and propinquity) tell us a lot about how this process works. We’ll talk more about each of these in just a moment. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Couple_01.JPG] 13

14 Forming Relationships, Selecting Mates (cont’d.)
Homogamy means “like marries like,” and is demonstrated by the fact that we tend to choose mates who are similar to us in class, race, ethnicity, age, religion, education, and even levels of attractiveness. Propinquity is the tendency to marry or have relationships with people in close geographic proximity. Propinquity is logical; we are likely to find possible mates among the people in our neighborhood, at work, or at school. The internet makes courtship and romance possible across much greater geographical areas, as we can now meet and converse with people in all parts of the world, so our pool of potential mates moves beyond local boundaries. But even this technology may intensify homogamy by bringing together people with very specific interests and identities. Since we now know a little about how families are put together, let’s talk a bit about how they work. 14

15 Doing the Work of Family
Many types of work (both paid and unpaid) are necessary to keep a family operating. These tasks can be either instrumental or expressive. Ideally, men or women could perform either or both types of work as they see fit and feel comfortable, but we tend to see gender roles and expectations placing men into one category and women into the other. 15

16 Doing the Work of Family (cont’d.)
Instrumental tasks refer to the practical physical tasks necessary to maintain family life (such as washing dishes and cutting grass). Expressive tasks refer to the emotional work necessary to support family members (such as remembering a relative’s birthday or playing with the children). Is a certain category usually considered appropriate for men? Which is usually considered appropriate for women? [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lawn_mower.jpg] 16

17 Doing the Work of Family (cont’d.)
Men and women have always performed different roles to ensure the survival of their families, but these roles were not considered unequal until after the Industrial Revolution. With the Industrial Revolution, work started taking place outside of the home, for a paid wage. As a result, the kind of work that became valuable was the kind that happened outside of the home. This is when “housework” became unvalued, because it was not associated with a wage. 17

18 Doing the Work of Family (cont’d.)
Women nowadays have two jobs: paid labor outside the home and unpaid labor inside the home. Second shift — unpaid labor inside the home that is often expected of women after they get home from working at paid labor outside the home Arlie Hochschild’s 1989 study of working couples and parents found that women were indeed working two jobs: paid labor outside the home and unpaid labor inside the home. 18

19 Family and the Life Course
Children’s experiences are shaped by family size, birth order, presence or absence of parents, socioeconomic status, and other sociological variables. In turn, the presence of children affects the lives of parents. For example, marital satisfaction tends to decline where there are small children in the house, and a couple’s gendered division of labor tends to become more traditional when children are born. When a family has a child (whether the first or the tenth), a new dynamic is introduced to a system, which causes instability. The instability isn’t permanent—however, there is always friction when an existing arrangement is changed. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Siblings_1890_hg.jpg] 19 19

20 Family and the Life Course (cont’d.)
Life expectancy is increasing. What is happening to the elderly population? About 10 percent of the elderly live below the poverty line. Care of the elderly is no longer a primary function of family: over 40 percent of senior citizens will spend time in a nursing home. The American population is aging because of the baby boom generation (the large number of Americans born in the post–World War II era). Current life expectancy in the United States is seventy-seven years (with women living an average of five years longer than men). Currently about 10 percent of the elderly live below the poverty line. Also, the care of the elderly is no longer a primary function of family: over 40 percent of senior citizens will spend time in a nursing home. Finally, coping with the transitions of retirement, widowhood, declining health, and death are central tasks for seniors. 20

21 Trouble in Families Domestic violence is by far the most common form of family violence. It includes behaviors abusers use to gain and maintain power over their victims. Abuse can be: Physical Verbal Financial Sexual Psychological 21

22 Cycle of Violence in Abusive Relationships
Stage one: Relationship seems normal. Stage two: The victim “walks on eggshells” to avoid arguments. Stage three: Acute battering and violence occur, lasting for seconds, hours, or even days. The abuser blames the victim. Stage four: The abuser apologizes profusely and promises that it will never happen again. A four-stage cycle of violence seems to occur in almost every abusive relationship. In the first stage, the abusive partner is charming, attentive, and thoughtful; disagreements are glossed over and the relationship looks stable and healthy. However, tension is building to the second stage, often described as “walking on eggshells.” Here, both parties sense that something will happen no matter what the victim may do to try to avoid it. During the third stage, acute battering and violence occur, lasting for seconds, hours, or even days. Whatever happens, the abuser will invariably blame the victim for the incident. The fourth stage, often referred to as loving contrition, is the “honeymoon” phase and is one of the reasons victims remain in violent relationships. After the violence, the abuser will apologize profusely and promise that it will never happen again.

23 Trouble in Families (cont’d.)
Rates of domestic violence are about equal across racial and ethnic groups, sexual orientations, and religious groups. People are more likely to be killed or attacked by family members than anyone else. We tend to think of attacks or murders being committed by total strangers in dark alleys, but the reality is that this kind of violence is far more common among people who know one another. It is also important to recognize that this kind of violence can occur on college campuses. Most colleges have resources or counselors available to help students in troubled situations. It could serve as a learning tool to ask students to find out if your college has such resources and report back. If not, could students find resources in the local community, or even online? 23

24 Trouble in Families (cont’d.)
Children and the elderly also suffer at the hands of abusive family members. Child and elder abuse are likely to be underreported, due in part to the relative powerlessness of the victims and the private settings of the abuse. Many states have special laws that give extra protection to elderly or minor individuals. For instance, the punishment for child abuse or elder abuse may be harsher than for the abuse of an individual who is neither a child or elderly. 24

25 Trouble in Families (cont’d.)
Another kind of abuse children may experience is neglect (a form of child abuse in which the caregiver fails to provide adequate nutrition, sufficient clothing or shelter, or hygienic and safe living conditions). Neglect is different from other kinds of abuse because there may or may not be intent. (Did the abuser neglect the child on purpose, or for some other reason?) However, the effects of neglect are traumatic regardless of the intention. 25

26 Trouble in Families (cont’d.)
Another form of child abuse is incest (proscribed sexual contact between family members; this is a form of child abuse when it occurs between a child and a caregiver). Elder abuse can include violence and abuse, as well as financial exploitation, theft, neglect, and abandonment. 26

27 Divorce and Breakups As of March 2002, the U.S. Census reported that more than 123 million persons were married while about 21 million were divorced. Research indicates that about 50 percent of all first marriages now end in divorce and most who divorce remarry. 27

28 U.S. Divorce Rate,

29 Divorce and Breakups (cont’d.)
Mothers still disproportionately receive custody (physical and legal responsibility for children, assigned by a court), but there is now a trend toward joint custody. Women are more likely to suffer downward economic mobility after divorce, especially if they retain custody of their children. This relates to “the feminization of poverty” that we discussed previously. Being the sole provider has a negative financial implication on women, which tends to lower their socioeconomic status and earning potential. 29

30 Trends in American Families
About 5 percent of all households are occupied by couples who are cohabitating (living together as a romantically involved, unmarried couple). More than 11 million people living with a partner are unmarried, which includes both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. 30

31 Trends in American Families (cont’d.)
Increases have occurred in the numbers of: Single people People who are cohabitating Single parents People who are living in intentional communities Married couples were the dominant household model through the 1950s, but their numbers have slipped from nearly 80 percent to just above 50 percent now. Currently, 30 percent of all households are made up of people who live alone. Currently, more than 11 million people are living with an unmarried partner. Currently, one-third of all first births are to unmarried partners. Intentional communities are any of a variety of groups of people who form communal living arrangements outside marriage. 31

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33 The Postmodern Family Families adapting to the challenges of a postmodern society may create family structures that look very different from the “traditional” family and can include ex-spouses, new partners and children, other kin, and even nonkin such as friends and coworkers. 33

34 Chapter 12: Participation Questions
In addition to your immediate family, do you also live with members of your extended family in your household? yes no These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.

35 Chapter 12: Participation Questions
Have you ever dated someone whom you met online, without meeting in person first? yes no These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.

36 Do you know anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence?
Chapter 12: Participation Questions Do you know anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence? yes no These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.

37 Are your parents still in a relationship? yes no
Chapter 12: Participation Questions Are your parents still in a relationship? yes no These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.

38 This concludes the Lecture PowerPoint presentation for Chapter 12


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