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Family and Culture : Definitions and Universality.

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Presentation on theme: "Family and Culture : Definitions and Universality."— Presentation transcript:

1 Family and Culture : Definitions and Universality

2 Family and Culture Week 1 2 Objectives of this powerpoint After viewing this slide show you should be aware of: Why the family is important in acquiring culture. How the family may be defined. Is the family universal?

3 Family and Culture Week 1 3 Basic Ideas About The Family Sociologists study the family because it is the primary socialization agency of society. It forms one of the central experiences of an individual’s life - as a child and most adults through parenthood. The family is the place where we are most likely to be ourselves.

4 Family and Culture Week 1 4 Our Task in Studying the Family To explore the meanings of family life to its members. To understand the role of the family in acquiring culture. To ask is the family in decline and dying? To recognize positive and negative features of family life To the ways in which the family is changing.

5 Family and Culture Week 1 5 Defining the Family Household refers to the place of domesticity. ‘A group of persons directly linked by kin connections, the adult members of which assume responsibility for caring for children’. Anthony Giddens defines the family as: Kinship refers to relationships based on biological or marital ties.

6 Family and Culture Week 1 6 What Proportion of Households Contain Families Like This? Just 21% of households in 2005! Married couples with children form just 18% of all households.

7 Family and Culture Week 1 7 Murdock and Goode on the Nuclear Family George Murdock (1949, pictured left) argued that the basic family unit across the world is the nuclear comprised of a mother, a father and their offspring. William Goode (1963) argued that the worldwide trend is to move towards the Western model of the nuclear family.

8 Family and Culture Week 1 8 Alternatives to the Traditional Family - Polygamy In Britain we practice monogamy (marriage involving only two people of the opposite sex). Polygamy is marriage that involves at least three people. Polygyny is where a man can have more than one wife. Polyandry is where a woman can have more than one husband A common practice in Britain today is serial monogamy (married to several people over a lifetime, but one at a time)

9 Family and Culture Week 1 9 The Nayar Tribe Kathleen Gough (1972) describes how women bore children to up to 12 ‘Sandbanham’ husbands. Biological fathers took no responsibility for their upbringing. Instead the mother’s brothers were economically responsible for her children. This can reflect some families in contemporary society.

10 Family and Culture Week 1 10 Oneida CommunityBoston USA) 1848 Oneida Community (Boston USA) 1848 The Oneida Community was founded by a Christian preacher, John Humphrey Noyes. There was group marriage with children raised communally. Sexual activity was allowed among any agreeable members. Only those considered suitable were allowed to reproduce.

11 Family and Culture Week 1 11 Russian Experiment Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, a deliberate attempt was made to destroy the traditional family. Nurseries, launderettes and eating canteens were introduced, thus freeing women from domestic work. Marriage and divorce were abolished. However, children became psychologically disturbed by the instability as parents went through many partners.

12 Family and Culture Week 1 12 Kibbutz System (Israel) Today about 4-5% of Israel’s population live in a kibbutz. Children were generally raised apart from their parents in ‘age-groups’, Children spent ‘family time’ each evening and weekend with their biological parents. Today most kibbutz children eat and sleep with their parents

13 Family and Culture Week 1 13 Black Matrifocal Families Within African-Caribbean communities families with absent fathers is common. However, these are just as much a family as any other lone-parent family. As such they are different from the traditional family, but are they just a variation of the family?

14 Family and Culture Week 1 14 Communes Since the mid-1970s, the number of communes in Britain has halved from 100 to around 50. Communes vary in structure and liberality. Whilst there is an element of sharing, usually the family unit is embodied within the wider community.

15 Family and Culture Week 1 15 Is the Nuclear Family Universal? Diane Gittins (1993) suggests it is only possible to talk of relationships as universal. Barrett and McIntosh (1991) stress that it is the idea of the nuclear family as universal that is the significant fact. Robert Chester argues taking ‘snapshots’ of household types is misleading. Over the life-cycle the most people live in families.

16 Family and Culture Week 1 16 Conclusions The family is defined as people tied by relationships based on blood, marriage, cohabitation and adoption. George Murdock sees the nuclear family at heart of all families. William Goode sees the worldwide trend is to move towards the western model of the nuclear family. There are many examples that challenge universality. These include anthropological examples like the historical Nayar tribe.

17 Family and Culture Week 1 17 Conclusions (continued) There have been deliberate attempts to produce collective- based families like the Oneida Community. The Russian ‘experiment’ is important as it shows how significant the family is to stability in society. The Kibbutz system of Israel is not a real alternative to the family. Diane Gittins argues that because there is such variability within societies, it is difficult to define the family as universal only relationships. Chester argues ‘snapshots’ of households conceals the importance of family over people’s life-cycle.

18 Family and Culture Week 1 18 End of Presentation

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