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Sociology of The Family

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Presentation on theme: "Sociology of The Family"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sociology of The Family

2 Discussion Questions:
- What is the family? - Should gays and lesbians be eligible for spousal benefits? Why? - Should daycare be a public matter or a private matter? - Why?

3 Dimensions of the family
OUTLINE What is the family? Dimensions of the family Comparing the Traditional Nuclear Family with Empirical Reality. The Structural Functionalist Theoretical Perspective On the Family. Foraging Societies. Agricultural Societies. The Contemporary Family -- and its Origins in the 19th Century. Marriage and Sexuality. Gender, Marriage, and the Economic Sphere. Marriage and Divorce Parenthood.








11 Comparing the Traditional Nuclear Family With Empirical Reality.

12 Myths About the Family 2 2 2

13 Myths About the Family 2 2 2

14 “Family Values” 3 3 3

15 “Family Values” 3 3 3

16 The Myth of the Natural Family
Myths notwithstanding, the nuclear family is rare today. In 1991, only 15% of Canadian families contained a male breadwinner, female homemaker, and unmarried children at home. 4 4 4

17 Family Structure, 1981-1991, Canada (in percent)
% Source: Adapted from, “Changes in Family Living,” Canadian Social Trends, Catalogue No , Autumn 1996; or on the Statistics Canada webpage at < September 20, 1996. 5 5 5

18 Household Structure, Canada, 1991
Source: Adapted from Pina La Novara, “Changes in Family Living,” Canadian Social Trends: A Canadian Studies Reader (Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing Inc., 1994), p. 172; and Statistics Canada, Families: Number, Type and Structure, 1991 Census of Canada, Cat. no , Table 3. (Ottawa: Minister of Industry, Science and Technology, 1992). 6 6 6

19 Structural-Functionalism
Structural-functionalists also assume that the nuclear family is universal because it supposedly performs certain essential social functions: socializing children, providing a framework for reproduction, emotional needs, and economic activity, etc. However, other social forms might be able to perform the same functions in ways that benefit individuals more. Existing institutions are not necessarily universal or ideal. 7 7 7

20 A Definition. In order to allow for diversity in family forms it is best to define the family broadly as the set of relationships people create to share resources daily in order to ensure their own, and especially their children’s, welfare and to socially reproduce the society.

21 Foraging Societies I In FORAGING SOCIETIES people subsist by gathering edibles and hunting wild game. Marriage establishes the nuclear unit, but the group of cooperating adults that is crucial for survival is the camp, or band. There is little private life for the nuclear unit. 8 8 8

22 Foraging Societies II Women mainly gather and men mainly hunt; what women provide accounts for most of the subsistence, in some cases as much as 80%. 9 9 9

23 Foraging Societies III
10 10 10

24 Agricultural Societies
11 11 11

25 Agricultural Societies
11 11 11

26 The Origins of Contemporary Families
12 12 12

27 The Origins of Contemporary Families
Contemporary notions of family involve: a sexual division of labour in which women assume mothering and other domestic responsibilities, and men assume responsibilities in the paid labour force; the idea that the family is a private sphere; high levels of emotional involvement. 12 12 12

28 Contemporary Middle Class Families I
A CULT OF DOMESTICITY developed in reaction to an emerging economy perceived as cruel, immoral, and beyond human control. The family was idealized as a place of peace, virtue and selfless love of children, and a “haven in a heartless world.” 13 13 13

29 Contemporary Middle Class Families II
14 14 14

30 Contemporary Working Class Families
15 15 15

31 Contemporary Working Class Families
Meanwhile, family life was endangered in the 19th century working class. Men’s wages were so low that small children were forced to work for a wage. Women were economically dependent. Relations among family members were strained and violence was widespread. Trade unions responded by demanding a FAMILY WAGE, enough pay for the male breadwinner to support the family. The domestic ideals of the era thus helped to shape the class struggle. 15 15 15

32 Sexuality 16 16 16

33 Gender 17 17 17

34 Gender Due to differences in socialization, marriage takes precedence over other aspirations for women much more than is the case for men. Economic necessity also pulls many women into marriage; their earnings are in general substantially below those of men. But the fact that most jobs require employee devotion means that marriage often requires that women must make tough choices between having children and pursuing a career. 17 17 17

35 Gender 17 17 17

36 Gender 1. They assumed that they would have a male partner and that he would be unwilling and unable to share the household work. 2. They predicted that their future earnings, relative to their spouses, would be low and that it would therefore make economic sense for them to assume household responsibility rather than paid employment. 17 17 17

37 Gender 3. Finally, they felt that babies were better off at home with their mothers. 17 17 17

38 Marriage and Divorce I 18 18 18

39 Marriage and Divorce II
While women are now better able to escape abusive and unhealthy marriages, the chief negative effect of divorce, for women and children, is the loss of income that follows. In 1994, 57% of single-parent mothers with dependent children were living below the poverty line. 19 19 19

40 Divorces per 100,000 Population, Canada, 1968-94
Sources: Adapted from, “Changes in Family Living,” Canadian Social Trends, Catalogue No , Autumn 1996; or on the Statistics Canada webpage at < September 19, 1996. Year 20 20 20

41 Housework Men do much less housework than their female partners because they have more decision-making power, work longer hours outside the home, and adhere to an ideology that assigns men and women different tasks. 21 21 21

42 Parenthood I 22 22 22

43 Parenthood I The gender division of labour increases substantially when couples become parents -- e.g., women take time off work while men work harder to make more money. Ties to the extended family strengthen and ties to friends weaken. Later, new friends tend to be people who have children of the same age. 22 22 22

44 Parenthood I Contrary to popular belief, full-time mothering is often not beneficial either for the mother or the child. Care by several adults and spending part of the day outside the home helps childhood development. 22 22 22

45 Parenthood II Due to higher divorce rates and more births outside marriage, 20% of Canadian families with children were lone-parent families in 1991. The difficulties of balancing childcare duties with labour force activity means that the lone mother’s reliance on government transfers has increased. 23 23 23

46 Parenthood II 23 23 23

47 The End

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