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Sociology of the Family

Sociology of the Family

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Sociology of the Family

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  1. Sociology of the Family

  2. Week 1 Public and Private Families How do we view the American family? Public vs. private families How do we study the family? Modes of observation Theoretical perspectives

  3. Discuss: What is a Family? • Write a definition of the word “family.” • Which of these would match your definition? • Married couple, with or without children • Single parent and children • 2nd marriage including in at least one stepparent • Cohabiting couple with or without children • Gay/lesbian couple with or without children • Grandparents raising grandchildren • Any group of people who consider themselves “family”

  4. What is a Family? Social Conservative: Two parent breadwinner-homemaker Economic: specific rules; who qualifies for benefits Cultural: varies from culture to culture

  5. How We Feel About the American Family Diversity can be tolerated or rejected: right/conservative side: • marriage and childbearing • disapproves divorce, births to single moms , cohabitation, gay marriage, abortion • favors policies that promote marriage

  6. left/liberal side: society can adjust to new family forms policies should support all types of families Tolerates or approves diversity Favors government involvement How We Feel About the American Family

  7. Family decisions are individual choices Individualism: Pursuing personal reward Utilitarian:self-reliance and personal achievement Expressive:emotional satisfaction Leads to family decisions based on emotional bond Individualism and Families

  8. Public and Private Families • Two key issues: • Are families taking care of dependents? (public function) • Are families providing emotional satisfaction? (private function)

  9. The Public Family Public Goods Have value for people who did not produce or pay for them Children Care of children, ill, elderly Public family provides these for society

  10. The Public Family (cont.) “Public Family” Includes: • One adult or two adults • Related by marriage, partnership, or shared parenthood • Taking care of dependents • Dependents

  11. Provides emotional support “Private Family” Includes: Two or more individuals Intimate relationship that they expect will last indefinitely Live in the same household Pool their income and labor The Private Family

  12. Two common methods: Survey: Random sample, standardized questions Observational study: Direct observation in natural environment What Do Family Researchers Do?

  13. What Do Family Researchers Do? (cont.) What Do Family Researchers Do? (cont.) Table 1.2 Comparing Survey Studies and Observational Studies WHO IS STUDIED HOW ARE THEY STUDIED STRENGTHS LIMITATIONS Survey Study Large, random sample An interviewer asks questions Results can be generalized Only limited knowledge can be of individuals or families from a predesigned questionnaire to the population of interest obtained; hard to judge honesty and records the answers of responses Observational Study Small, purposefully A researcher observes them in Detailed knowledge is Findings may not be chosen sample of depth over a long period of time, obtained representative of other, similar individuals or families sometimes participating in their individuals or families daily activities

  14. Classical theories Functionalist Conflict Exchange Symbolic Interaction Feminist Contemporary theories Evolutionary psychology Modernity Theory of Families • Influences questions and observations

  15. Classical Perspectives Functional theory Stability and cooperation Each member performs functions Family contributes to society Best fits breadwinner-homemaker model

  16. Conflict theory Inequality, power, change Male dominance — physical, economic Men less dominant when women have financial power Economic development = more power for women Classical Perspectives

  17. Exchange theory Relationships involve exchange of resources Housework, child care, financial support, love, emotional support Contributions are evaluated by members Income may give more power Classical Perspectives

  18. Symbolic interaction theory Social interaction: shared understanding Shared understandings: social roles (Spouse, parent, breadwinner, homemaker, child, etc.) Nontraditional families: more negotiation, fewer cultural roles. Classical Perspectives

  19. Feminist theory Gender defines social roles Roles are socially (not biologically) constructed Family life is different for women than men Contemporary Theories

  20. Evolutionary psychology (sociobiology) Women’s interest: survival of young (needed men’s protection) Men’s interest: maximize reproductive potential (impregnate many women, control sexual access) Contemporary Theories

  21. Modernity Theory Historical development of roles Modern era – (to 1950) Roles were culturally defined (student, spouse, parent, etc.) Little choice Late modern era – 1950-1980’s Individual choice – flexible roles Contemporary Theories

  22. Author (Cherlin) believes Families should be publicly supported Stable long-term partnerships, regardless of sexual orientation, are best for children Alternative family forms can provide support Equality of men and women in family life