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Understanding the Family Roderick Graham. Basic Ideas About The Family Sociologists study the family because it is the primary agent of socialization.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding the Family Roderick Graham. Basic Ideas About The Family Sociologists study the family because it is the primary agent of socialization."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding the Family Roderick Graham

2 Basic Ideas About The Family Sociologists study the family because it is the primary agent of socialization. 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 (show our true identity.

3 Defining the Family  Family: A group of persons directly linked by kin connections, the adult members of which assume responsibility for caring for children’. – Anthony Giddens  Kinship: refers to relationships based on biological or marital ties. How do you feel about the definition of family above? Is it accurate?

4 Defining the Family  Monogamy: marriage involving only two people  Polygamy: Marriage that involves at least three people  Polygyny: A man can have more than one wife.  Polyandry: A woman can have more than one husband

5 5 Defining the Family  Most marriages are characterized by homogamy, where the couple shares similar social characteristics involving age, social class, ethnicity, religion, and core values. The more homogamous the couple, the greater their long term compatibility. “Even if opposites attract…likes marry!”

6 Types of Families  Nuclear: Family organization usually consisting of a husband, wife, and children who are their offspring.  Extended: Family organization combining several generations and a variety of different kinship relations under one roof.  Consanguineal: Family organization that includes the nuclear family as well as a larger kinship network.

7 7 Traditional Image of Family  The traditional image of the ideal American family is a monolithic image in which the family is  Rigidly nuclear.  Suburban Middle class.  Traditional gender roles. The reality is that only about 10% of American families fit this image. American families are actually very diverse.

8 8 Family Authority Patterns  Patriarchy: male social dominance. This pattern is found all over the world. Most societies are patriarchal.  Matriarchy: female social dominance. This is so rare that some argue there are no matriarchal societies in the world.  However there are societies where women are relatively equal to men. These are egalitarian societies.  The Americans and Europeans are moving from patriarchal, the current arrangement, toward egalitarian authority where men and women share decision-making together.

9 The Social Importance of the Nuclear Family  The nuclear family is the “default” family setting in American society, just as the middle class is the “default” class position.  The norm is the nuclear family, and as a result, other types of family arrangements can be deviant or even criminal (polygamous family arrangements) What do you think? Should polygamy by illegal?

10 Family Units and Family Systems  Family Unit: Refers to the modern understanding of the family as a self-sustaining group.  Family System: Refers to the traditional understanding of the family as an interdependent group of individuals who work together as a micro-social system.

11 Theoretical Perspectives of the Family: Functionalist  How does the family (unit or system) assist in the functioning of society?  Socialization of Young  Socioemotional Support  Reproduction  Regulates Sexual Activity  Transmits Social Status  Economical

12 Theoretical Perspectives of the Family: Conflict Theorists  How do family members compete and cooperate?  Males are dominant and in control  Females were typically expected to be submissive  Women were wageless and dependent on their husbands  Feminists state that women are undervalued in an industrial society  Attempts by women to gain power in the family structure results in conflict.

13 Theoretical Perspectives of the Family: Symbolic Interactionists  What are the interactions between family members, and what are the meanings assigned to these interactions?  Socialization begins with the family  As families share meanings and feelings, children develop their self-concepts  Relationships within the family are constantly changing as the family develops and grows

14 Theoretical Perspectives of the Family: Post Modernists  The family no longer conforms to a single type  It no longer makes sense to see the nuclear family as the dominant family structure. Different kinds of household no co- exist.  Family structure is in a constant state of change and families are fashioned and refashioned to meet changing needs.  These changes as part of a transformation of intimacy, a move away from tradition, giving couples much more choice about personal relationships

15 Theoretical Perspectives of the Family: New Right The ‘traditional’ patriarchal nuclear family with a breadwinner husband and homemaker wife is the kind best equipped to be self reliant rather than depending on the welfare state.  Welfare has reduced the role of the father, and created a dependency culture.

16 The Family Today  From 1940 to 1990, the proportion of single-income families in the United States declined from nearly 70 percent to about 20 percent.  At the end of the twentieth century, one-third of all children in America are born to unwed mothers, as often by choice as by necessity.

17 Figure 7.1 Households by Type

18 Figure 7.3 Median Age at First Marriage

19 Wrap - Up  We were introduced to some key ways of describing families  We learned the theoretical perspectives that can help us explain the family and the role the family has in society  We saw how the family has changed over the past 50 years

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