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Chapter Two – Approaches to Studying Individuals & Families HHS 4M Individuals and Families in a Diverse Society.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Two – Approaches to Studying Individuals & Families HHS 4M Individuals and Families in a Diverse Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Two – Approaches to Studying Individuals & Families HHS 4M Individuals and Families in a Diverse Society

2 Introduction Preconceptions About Individuals & Families in Canada
Theoretical Perspectives Developmental Theories

3 Preconceptions Experiences that you have in your own families, the opinions they have formed from observing & discussing their friend’s families, and the families they have seen portrayed in the media will affect the perceptions they have of the subject. What are your preconceptions?

4 Theoretical Perspectives
Four basic questions in Social Science: What happens? How does it happen? Why does it happen? How can people change what happens?

5 Theoretical Perspectives & Development Theories
Functionalism Systems Theory Symbolic Interactionism Social Exchange Theory Conflict Theory Feminist Theory

6 Key Terms in Theoretical Perspectives
Disciplines: specific branches of learning (ex. Math, physics, psychology) Theory: a framework for organizing & explaining observable evidence. Without facts, a theory is just a speculation or a guess. Macro: large scale study of society Micro: small scale study of individual cases Anthropology: study of culture Ethnocentrism: the tendency to evaluate behaviour from the point of view of your own culture Sociology: study of behaviour of individuals in groups, families and society Psychology: study of behaviour based on mental process

7 Theoretical Perspective 1. Functionalism
Functionalism: attempts to explain how a society is organized to perform its required functions effectively Also called Structural Functionalism – focus on structures’ function in society Oldest theory Structures are called institutions Assumes that society are stable when structures function in ways that benefit society Change occurs slowly to maintain equilibrium

8 Theoretical Perspective 1. Functionalism
Examines the roles that individuals play within an institution Groups within society motivate individuals to act Status is acquired when an individual takes a specific role in a group Individuals learn the appropriate behaviour through the process of socialization

9 Theoretical Perspective 1. Functionalism
Functionalist observe the most prevalent behaviours as the norm Behaviours that rarely occur are below the norm Use a macro level of observation The organization of society is based on a consensus about what is functional

10 Theoretical Perspective 1. Functionalism
Main Ideas: Every society has an underlying structure - religious, political, economic, educational, & familial In order for the society to survive, certain functions must be done People’s behaviour is governed by laws, regulations, and expectations which help to maintain a stable society

11 Theoretical Perspective 1. Functionalism - Example
Family as an Institution The family has a number of important functions in society: Provides for physical protection of its members Provides for emotional well being of its members Socialization of new members

12 Theoretical Perspective 1. Functionalism - Example
Family Structure The family is organized around three statuses: 1. husband/father 2. wife/mother 3. child Each of these statuses carry a set of expectations concerning suitable behaviour so that it can function efficiently.

13 Theoretical Perspective 1. Functionalism - Example
What This Means ? The husband/father has an active, doing role and is responsible for economic support of the family members The wife/mother has an expressive (emotional) role and is responsible for physical and emotional support of the family members This structure was thought to be functional for the family as well as for the industrialized society.

14 Theoretical Perspective Questions Asked by Structural Functionalists
What is happening to the size of families in Canada? Is the number of single parent families increasing? Are there adequate day-care facilities? What effect does education have on incomes?

15 Theoretical Perspective Limitations / Criticisms
Puts males & females into stereotyped roles regardless of individual differences Families from different social classes, situations were completely ignored Interactions within the family are also ignored Viewed change as negative & disruptive

16 Theoretical Perspective 2. Systems Theory
Attempts to explain how groups of individuals interact as a system A micro approach The family is a social system because its members are INTERDEPENDENT. This means that the behaviour of one affects the rest A system or subsystem must be studied within its context (i.e. married couple cannot be studied without the larger family context)

17 Theoretical Perspective 2. Systems Theory
Organization of a System Hierarchy refers to a descending order of size complexity, and power. Supersystem: the Universe Ecosystem: Neighbourhood, City, Province, Country, World System: The Family Subsystem: Husband/Wife, Parent/Child, Siblings, the Individual.

18 Theoretical Perspective 2. Systems Theory
Healthy Families have clear boundaries that are openly communicated Dysfunctional Families is the result of individual failure to fulfill role responsibilities, or of unrecognized roles

19 Theoretical Perspective 2. Systems Theory
Think of the family as a scale or mobile. When one change occurs there is a temporary imbalance. Families strive for equilibrium or homeostasis, thus a new balance will be attempted to be found. During the strive for homeostasis each family member will react differently and each members reaction will in turn affect the system as a whole.

20 Theoretical Perspective 3. Symbolic Interactionism
Psychological theory attempting to explain how individuals choose how they will act based on their perceptions of themselves & of others Emphasizes the importance of relationship dynamics between and among family members Role expectations are developed through these interactions

21 Theoretical Perspective 3. Symbolic Interactionism
German sociologist Max Weber ( ) Social sciences cannot be studied in the same way as the natural sciences - one simply examines data & draws conclusions from those facts The sociologist must try to get inside the mind of the people to find out what their motives are. American sociologist George Mead ( ) Stressed that humans are able to interact & cooperate with each other because they share a common set of symbols – language. Without this common foundation socialization would not be possible.

22 Theoretical Perspective 3. Symbolic Interactionism
Three Basic Concepts: Individual has two parts “me” – objective (tall, male, student) 1. “I” – subjective awareness of self based on how feedback from others is interpreted 2. People must be able to anticipate what the other person will do (role-taking). By anticipating others reactions, one can formulate their own behaviour 3. Language is the means by which individuals give meaning to their experiences It is a useful micro theory for observing people within groups

23 Theoretical Perspective 3. Symbolic Interactionism
Limitations: Because the researcher “interprets” what he/she sees & hears there is room for misreading the intent & meaning of the message This approach does not recognize the individual’s/family’s connection with the larger society Each situation is isolated & general conclusions cannot be assumed or applied

24 Theoretical Perspective 4. Social Exchange Theory
Is another psychological theory that attempts to explain the social factors that influence how individuals interact within reciprocal relationships. Although individuals are constrained by role expectations, they act within each role to maximize the benefits they will receive and to minimize the cost to themselves. Basically, individuals interpret their experiences of self & others to determine the benefits & costs. These benefits & costs are not facts, but are perceptions formed by the individual

25 Theoretical Perspective 4. Social Exchange Theory
Costs Benefits Charles Needed to end relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles Diana’s beauty, fertility ensures healthy & attractive heir Public favour Noble blood, socialized for public life Diana (The costs were greater than the rewards!) Restrictions placed on her by the royal family Husbands affair Wealth, luxurious lifestyle & opportunity to become queen Produce two sons

26 Theoretical Perspective 4. Social Exchange Theory
Relationships are stable when the benefits that each individual received balance the costs of the relationship Benefits – meet perceived need, physical or emotional security, access to goods & services & social approval - Costs – actions that meet the others needs, such as providing the list above Social scientists use the social exchange theory to explain how individuals make decisions in relationships that might not make sense to others Some people are offended by this theory since it assumes all individuals are motivated to serve their interests

27 5. Conflict Theory Conflict Theory is social and political theory that examines how power holds a society together. Conflict exist between groups because of inequalities in power – groups compete with each other Power inequalities among family members can cause dysfunction Macro level theory that basically explains inequalities It is used to criticize, not explain society

28 Conflict Theory An example: - Proletariat – working people
Karl Marx – describe the class system in 19th century Bourgeoisie – wealthy, control means of production. Small group in society, but had massive amount of control - Proletariat – working people Marx predicted that the gap between the rich and working would widen. Many people believe that inequality is a natural state of human society Marx believed that this inequality should be eliminated

29 Conflict Theory Another example:
Friedrich Engels – the division between sexes in marriage not only paralleled the division between classes, but also were necessary to maintain class distinctions of capitalism Men wielded economic power within the household, which came from working for a wage. Wage was linked to capitalism. Capitalism will continue to create conflict. Therefore, in this example, conflict theory describes the relationship between men & women as one of exploitation & oppression. It analyses power & authority within the family

30 6. Feminist Theories Developed in the second half of the century
Explained the impact of sex & gender on behaviour Also, consider human behaviour from the specific view of women Root in conflict theory, but separate gender from class Androcentricity – a bias that assumes male experience is human experience & therefore applies to women. Often doesn’t include gender in research Double Standard – are biases that apply a different standard for evaluating the behaviour of women Change is required so that the needs of all people are met

31 6. Feminist Theories Attempt to explain social inequalities between men & women from a female perspective Liberal feminism – argues discriminatory policies force women into an inferior class, restricting their right to fully participate in society. They try to change policy through political means Socialist feminism – challenges capitalism & the patriarchal model of the family. Inequality is rooted in the sexual division of paid & unpaid labour Radical feminism – male-female relationships can be explosive. A separate female culture could correct this

32 Developmental Theories
Developmental theories attempt to describe patterns of growth & change throughout the human life span Challenges that individuals experience are called development tasks They describe predictable changes in the behaviour of individuals or families They explain how a personal or family systems adapts in response to internal or external stimuli

33 Developmental Theories
These theories examine biological, psychological, social & cultural factors that influence development The Family Life Cycle demonstrates predictable stages, marked by normative events – such as marriage, birth of child, child leaves home, etc. At each stage, the family faces specific developmental tasks. Not all stages will fit all families Non-normative events create unique challenges

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