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Family Systems, Family Lives. The Family. Institution: maintains patterns of privilege and inequity and is connected to other societal institutions, including the economy, political system, religion, and education

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the family
The Family
  • Institution: maintains patterns of privilege and inequity and is connected to other societal institutions, including the economy, political system, religion, and education
  • Experience: fulfills basic human needs and provides first experiences of love, relationship, power, and conflict
kinship systems
Kinship Systems
  • Determine family descent (patrilineal, matrilineal, bilateral, or unilateral)
  • Determine distribution of wealth
  • Govern norms about the meaning of marriage (including number of partners)
    • Monogamy: one wife and one husband
    • Polygamy: multiple spouses
    • Cenogamy: group marriage
    • Polygyny: multiple wives
    • Polyandry: multiple husbands
types of families
Types of Families
  • Nuclear (now < 25% of all families)
  • Extended
  • Single-parent
  • Blended
  • Lesbian/gay domestic partners
  • Other cohabitating couples with children
  • Multi-generational
marriage statistics
Marriage Statistics
  • 13% increase in cohabitation couples (2010 Census)
  • 72% increase in unmarried-partner households over past ten years
  • Only 2/3 of nation’s children live with two married parents
  • Median age for marriage 28 for men, 26 for women
  • 40-50% of marriages end in divorce
more statistics
More Statistics
  • There are 99.6 million unmarried Americans over age 18, representing nearly 44% of the adult population
  • In 2010, unmarried households were 45% of all U.S. households
  • Over half of the unmarried population aged 18 and older are female. For every 100 unmarried women there are 88 unmarried men

Source: US Census Bureau, America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2010

more statistics1
More Statistics
  • More than half of Americans today are, have been, or will be in stepfamily situations
  • Proportion of households with one person living alone is now over 25%
  • Approximately 25% of all families with children are headed by single females (28% live in poverty compared to 5% of married families)
gay and lesbian families
Gay and Lesbian Families
  • Gay marriage is legal in MA, ME, MD, NY, CT, IA, NH, VT, WA and the District of Columbia
  • Domestic partnerships or civil unions are recognized in NJ, IL, DE, RI, HI, CO
  • Thirty-seven states either have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, or legal statutes against it
  • In February 2011, President Obama directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996
institutional connections
Institutional Connections
  • Families are shaped by their relationship to systems of inequality
  • Households headed by women have approximately half the income and less than 1/3 the assets of other US households and are three times as likely to be at or below poverty level
  • Poverty rate for single mothers is twice as high as for single fathers (US Census)
power and family relationships
Power and Family Relationships
  • Access to resources that allows certain members to define the reality of other members (mostly distributed by age and gender)
  • While “traditional” marriage and family relationships are being challenged today, sexism and masculine privilege still exist in many interpersonal family relationships
balance of power
Balance of Power
  • Head-complement
  • Junior partner/senior partner
  • Equal partners
  • Women are expected to want to be mothers (it’s supposed to come naturally)
  • Women are expected to take the primary responsibility for nurturing children
  • bell hooks – “Revolutionary Parenting”

“Men will not share equally in parenting until they are taught, ideally from childhood on, that fatherhood has the same meaning and significance as motherhood. As long as women or society as a whole see the mother/child relationship as unique…responsibility for child care and child rearing will continue to be primarily women’s work” 1984