Why study the family sociologically?
Recognize patterns and trends
Understand family as a social institution
Develop research and conceptual frameworks
Advocate for all families, while challenging stereotypes and misinformation.
How are families defined? Money, love, blood, household and support.
Definitions of family vary: Historically, Geographically, Culturally
Family is defined: personally, POLITICALLY, LEGALLY, socially, religiously and ECONOMICALLY.
Are there universal family norms? (Gittins article and Baca Zinn article)
Is there an ideal family form?
What is “normal?”
Do certain types of families hurt society?
Family refers to a collection of people, related to each other by: Ancestry, Marriage, Adoption or Affinity (a commitment to each other and a unique identity with each other).
Gender and sexuality is socially constructed therefore what is considered normal or deviant is also socially constructed ( Sullivan article).
In America, non-white families have traditionally been viewed with a deficit model compared to white Western European Christian families.
Sociologists look at the treatment of a group to explain family structure rather than a genetic or psychological trait--a cultural relativistic approach.
It is important to consider how socioeconomic status significantly impacts families.
Much of society tends to blame families for poverty-associated behaviors rather than look at how societal conditions limit possibilities.
Maxine Baca Zinn’s “Feminist Rethinking From Racial and Ethnic Families”What are her main points???? /Some thoughts:
The importance of recognizing how structural conditions that different families face affect family life.
Feminist perspectives which emphasize gender have often ignored how race and class also shape families
PRODUCTIVE LABOR (work outside the house for money) and RE-PRODUCTIVE LABOR (caring for family) are not necessarily separate and based on one’s racial/class position can be very different. (Ex. Women who work as nannies)Questions:
Are ideas about families based on a “patriarchial ideology?”
Are these ideas “sexist?”
Is it based on a norm of heterosexuality?
Are our ideas about families based in “homophobia?
How do families that are marginalized survive?
How does race affect families?
Does ethnicity shape families?
Are our views on families “racialized?”
What differences exist in families by socioeconomic class status?
How can we understand families--gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic class—through INTERSECTIONALITY?
American ideas of family come out of western European traditions that started in the Middle Ages.
Family originally referred to household not biological relations.
Early family forms in Europe and colonial America were much different than today.
Family norms and behaviors changed as the economic and social structure changed.Societal Changes to Family 1600-1800s:
Many different types of families existed yet most attention is focused on English/Dutch/French colonial settlers’ certain type of family structures.
Other groups’ families were not valued, even worse destroyed for economic and political reasons
African slaves maintained and established families despite slave owners’ attempts to deny them the right to marry and have families.
New immigrant families (Chinese/Mexican migrant workers)Mid 1800s:
Widespread societal changes ushered in changes to families
Civil War and the rise of industrialization effected family structure.
Families moved from rural to cities.
Freed Africans established communities of families.
Large waves of immigrants.
Early 1900s, many changes effected families: women suffrage, Great Depression, WWI and WWII
The role of women began to change. -> As women’s role changes, so do norms of behavior (push forward/pull back effect)20th century Gender and Sexuality:
20th century began emphasis on husband-wife intimacy
Freudian ideas about sex, gender roles, and dreams
Previously woman were closely bonded to other women as evidenced in diaries and men talked about their passionate bonds with other men (non-sexual yet intimate)
Term homosexual enters in public discourse at end of the 19th century and so does the association of sexual acts and sexual orientation
The 1950s is looked to as the best time for families but it was not better, just DIFFERENT.
Many large-scale changes after 1950
the Civil Rights movement,
the Women’s Movement
WoodstockFamilies and Ethnicity:
What ideas about different ethnic families come out of the articles?
Pyke article on Korean and Vietnamese immigrants
Blumberg article on gender and ethnic households
Ethnic differences in families are
largely a function of their experiences and treatment in the United States
largely seen as dysfunctional, destructive and devalued rather than simply different.
ex) large families
Complexities of families cannot be easily defined as better or worse.
Societal attitudes on issues such as gender, sexuality, race, religion, generation change but not always moving forward in a straight line.
Chapter 3 (Coupling):
Functionalism- what functions do courting/dating serve for society?
Conflict theory-how does dating involve a struggle over scarce resources, in terms of getting dates and maintaining a relationship?
feminist approaches draw from conflict theory
feminist approaches draw from conflict theory
Symbolic interaction-what meanings are attached to actions and behaviors?History of Coupling:
late 1800s -> courtship preceded marriage. “courting” or “calling”
late 1800s/early 1900s -> dating became the norm but was still largely seen as simply a road to marriage.
What Societal changes contributed to the emergence of Dating? Economic changes, Family structure changes, New inventions.
Early Functions of dating : Socialization/ Recreation/ fun, Norms, Status-Marketplace Framework:
Dating was still a path to marriage but it took on the structure of a marketplace.
It became acceptable to try out different partners before deciding who was right, similar to the process before making an economic investment.Societal changes= changes in dating:
technology (cars, computers)
change in women’s roles/views on sex
Longer periods of dating due to later age of marriage and divorce resulting in people entering back into dating.Dating Behaviors: There are many influences on what is acceptable behavior while dating: Cultural norms, Family norms and Peer expectations.
Dating -> :
Are there benefits? They are embedded in a strongly supportive context and tend not to be related to unrealistic expectations and demands.
Would they work in the United States today? No, Mahoney argues that the key factor influencing gender inequality in American marriages is gender-differential educational and career achievement. Women who hold a lower paying/less educated than their husbands will hold a disadvantaged when negotiations about household responsibilities. Research finds shoes that more-educated women appear more likely to love(women who go on to higher education may have more opportunities to meet and fall in love with men of their own choosing), rather than arranged, marriages, implying that arranged marriages disproportionately involve less-educated women, vulnerable to greater power inequity in their marriage.What is the road to marriage today?
What is gendered sexuality?
Different rewards/consequences of “hooking up”
How are resources such as relationships, commitment, sex allocated? Who benefits?
How do issues of class and privilege factor in?
What is “compulsory heterosexuality” How is it enforced? Institutional discrimination, cultural devaluation, peer harassment, self-internalized guilt.
Relevance of Popular Culture/Media:
Both INFLUENCES and REFLECTS societal views on issues.
Youth are particularly influenced by popular culture in terms of dress, language and behavior.
Societal changes affect families, and how societal members come together for relationships
From Dating to Marriage:
Did dating patterns change thereby affecting marriage?
Did marriage norms change thereby affecting the way people think about dating?
The Institution of Marriage:
According to the readings, how has marriage been de-institutionalized?
The changing division of labor in the home and increase in childbearing outside marriage were undermining the institutionalized basis of marriage. The distinct roles of homemaker and breadwinner were fading as more married women entered the paid labor force.
The two more recent changes in family life, both in which have contributed to the deinstitutionalization of marriage after the 1970s: the growth of cohabitation, which began in the 1970sbut was not fully appreciated until it accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s, and same-sex marriage, which emerged as an issue in the 1990s and has come to the fore in the current decade.
Deinstitutionalization can be defined as the weakening of the social norms that define people’s behavior in a social institution
What do you think will happen to the institution of marriage in the future?
A) become reinstitutionalized
B) remain symbolically important but deinstitutionalized
C) fade away as an institution?Why?
Reasons for the change:
More industrialized and wealthy societies have 1)more single people, 2)higher divorce rates and 3)later age of marriage
Technology ( including birth control)
Changing workforce, role of womenCULTURAL FACTORS:
Emphasis on romantic love-----finding the “ONE”
Emphasis on individual
Marriage and Commitment:
Who can marry?Norms of exogamy and endogamy
Who does marry?Attitudes versus behavior
What does marriage mean today compared to historically?
Marriage (The Good, The Bad, the Greedy):
The goal of marriage in contemporary American society is to
A. increase economic well-being.
B. improve community.
C. find a soul mate.
D. fulfill gender norms and have legitimate children.
Why do they call marriage “greedy?”
Fewer people marry now
In 1960 94% married at some point
Today, only 85% of young adults will ever marry
Marriage Promotion? :
Marriage promotion is the
A. Something unique to Oklahoma state government
B. array of government policies that seek to reduce the rate of divorce and single parenting.
C. political response to the TANF welfare reforms which focuses on poverty.
D. political backlash movement stemming from the Bush Administration’s family policies.
Oklahoma Marriage Promotion Initiative (Heath article):
blankets the state with messages about marriage
provides free pro-marriage workshops
targets specific populations such as welfare recipients, high school students, and the prison population
solidifies the ideology of innate gender differences.
2) People are waiting longer to marry
In 1960 average age was 20 for woman, 22 for man.
Today average age is 25 for woman, 27 for man.*all based on heterosexual couples
Why would different groups experience marriage at different rates?:
(obviously) by sexual orientation
Why Socioeconomic class?
Why Racial and ethnic groups?
“Out-of-Wedlock”“Baby Mama” Does it matter?:
More woman (and men) are having children outside of marriage.
In 1960 5% of babies were born to unmarried mothers and fathers
Today over 40% for all Americans (lower/higher by geographic regions, by race, by education)
People are more likely to live together
In 1960, 8% of adults lived together.
In 2000 at least 56% of adults lived together before getting married
WHY??? (Structural and Cultural factors)
Families outside of marriage-(Seltzer article):
Are married couples different than non-married cohabiting couples?
Are couples who live together before they marry more or less likely to get divorced.Why do hear about so many marriage problems and for WHO?:
What is the problem--solution for highly educated Vietnamese women looking for love? (Both consider “unmarriageable” namely of highly educated women in Vietnamese to Vietnamese men who do low-wage work overseas. Double marriage squeeze is one force propelling these transpacific marriages of the two unmarriageable, but the cultural belief in the marriage gradient is at least powerful and probably more so. If the man is from a First World country, he has the “up”, while a woman from Third World Vietnam has the “down”.].
Couples and Households:
Does “not living together” change the relationship? (Levin article)
Do you think this will become more common in the US?
Mothering and Fathering:
Marriage norms change as societies change
Marriage solidifies social boundaries and can be used as a tool for inclusion or exclusion
1967 (just 45 years ago) the Supreme Court rules laws against interracial marriage as unconstitutional. Opponents had argued against it using the Bible and that it would wreak havoc in society and was
20?? The Supreme Court rules on gay marriage????
In society we have a dominant belief that women have a natural or biological predisposition to mothering, or nurturing.
Women do not come with a natural instinct on how to be a mother
The desire to be a parent and knowledge about parenting are learned through gender socialization and other societal messages
Parenting is a learned behavior and societal conditions create gender differences in parenting
Examples of socializing agents:
Toys that emphasize home, dolls to care for, Barbie toys to recreate families, relationships and parenting.
Observing the gender roles of parents, others
Television, films, and commercials that reinforce ideas
Positive/Negative consequences for adhering/ignoring these roles
Fathers’ roles have changed over time and across cultures but it are not linear. (economic, recreational, disciplinary)
Conservatives focus on biological parenting differences, stress importance of male headship, breadwinning, respect for authority…Liberals focus on similarities between mothers and fathers, and importance of employment, social services and poss. of more equal marital relations (pg 329)
Patricia Hill Collins:
Motherhood occurs in specific historical contexts framed by interlocking structures of race, class and gender contexts….”
Economic security/Racial privilege
Motherwork and Physical Survival
Motherwork and Power
Motherwork and Identity
Social Construction of Motherhood:
It should be the ultimate fulfillment of a woman
It is a natural function for women (taking care of children, and home)
A woman should be devoted to her children, above her own needs.Mothering/fathering from a distance:
What is transnational mothering? Why is it done? Ex) Filipina mothers
These families are households with core members living in at least two nation-states and in which the mother works in another country while all of her dependents reside in the Philippines. In doing so, they are able to provide their families with a secure middle-class lifestyle. The lesser costs of reproduction in sending countries, such as the Philippines, the luxury of paid domestic help and more comfortable housing as opposed to cramped living quarter forced by high rents in global cities.
Various countries limit the term of their settlement to temporary labor contracts and deny entry to their spouses and children. Their work arrangement limits the time that they can devote to the care of their own families.
What is fatherhood from afar? Why is it done? Ex) Black “live-away” fathers
There is a contradiction in our society called the “mommy wars” which debates which is better,
the “stay-at-home mom” who devotes all her time and energy to the children,
the ”supermom” who takes care of her kids, yet also performs well at work
Yet there is also a backlash against fathers in society, with common images of the “deadbeat dads,” “absentee fathers” and media images reinforcing the idea that fathers are often not around.
Men often still view their participation as helping the mother.
Men are likely to see any daycare or babysitter as taking care of the child for the mother, rather than themselves.
Men are likely to give reasons and explanations why the woman does more, including she enjoys it more, or is “better” at it than them.
Our ideas of mother and father are changing and fathers are slowly becoming more involved in their children’s lives.
larger numbers of women working
greater acceptability of single parenting
high rates of divorce
Growing acceptability of alternative routes (adoption, gay and lesbian parenting, sperm donor)