Families And Relationships Discussion
Family is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as two or more people related by blood, adoption, or marriage living in the same household. However, in today’s society, family arrangements are so varied and diverse that it makes no sense to limit the concept of kinship. Modern ideas of the family are historically, culturally, and situationally constructed.
Diversity in U.S. families involves class, race, nationality, and religious beliefs. Antimiscegenation laws prohibited marriage, cohabitation, or sexual interaction between racial groups; the last of these laws was declared unconstitutional in 1967. Exogamy is the practice of marrying someone from another social group, whereas endogamy is the practice of marrying someone from the same social group.
12.3 Sociological Perspectives on the Family
1. Structural functionalism argues that family facilitates economic production, socialization of children, instrumental and emotional support, and sexual control. The family is also a socializing agent responsible for maintaining and transmitting many aspects of society.
2. Conflict theory argues that family structure perpetuates inequality and exploits women.
3. Symbolic interactionists argue that family relations are created and maintained in interaction rather than in any abstract structure. Family members create and fulfill their roles through interactions with each other.
12.4 Forming relationships
Forming relationships, selecting mates: Monogamy is marrying (or being in a relationship with) only one person at a time. Polygamy is having multiple spouses. Homogamy is the tendency to choose mates who are similar to us in class, race, ethnicity, age, religion, education, and even level of attractiveness. Propinquity is the tendency to choose mates who live in geographical proximity to us.
12.5 Gender and Family Labor
1. Both paid work and unpaid work are needed to keep a family operating. Unpaid work is labor intensive and emotionally draining; however, it is often unacknowledged and unrewarded. Instrumental tasks achieve tangible goals, whereas expressive tasks achieve emotional and relationship goals. Most unpaid work has both instrumental and expressive elements.
2. Gender inequality is common within families, with women often doing a “second shift” of unpaid labor. Hochschild and Machung’s 1989 study found that women employ numerous strategies to manage and balance the workloads of their paid and unpaid labor.
12.6 Family and Life Course
1. The family molds everyone. Parents have a direct influence on their children, but other children also may exert types of influence.
2. Aging in the family: The number of Americans sixty-five or older is growing twice as fast as the population as a whole.
12.7 Trouble in Families
Due to the mutual interdependence of family relationships, the potential for emotional, social, and physical risk is also inherent in family dynamics.
1. Domestic violence and abuse constitute a silent epidemic, with millions of women suffering physical, verbal, financial, and psychological abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. Rates of domestic violence are about equal across racial and ethnic groups, sexual orientations, and religions. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to suffer from domestic abuse.
2. Child abuse and elder abuse are typically committed by caregivers. In addition to the types of abuse common to cases of domestic violence, children and elders may also suffer from neglect—inadequate nutrition , insufficient clothing or shelter, and unhygienic or unsafe living conditions. Sexual abuse is also a form of child and elder abuse.
12.8 Divorce and Breakups
1. Changing patterns: The percentage of married people who have divorced have increased more than five and a half times since 1950, indicating that about 50 percent of all first marriages now end in divorce. Five percent of all households are occupied by unmarried heterosexual couples, which may reflect a certain caution about marriage as a result of rising rates of divorce.
2. Custody is the physical and legal responsibility for the everyday life and routines of children. Courts award visitation to noncustodial parents to protect parent-child relationships. Women experience. on average. a 25 percent decline in economic well-being after a divorce. Child support is money paid by the noncustodial parent in order to defray the expenses of raising a child.
3. Most divorced people will eventually marry someone else, which means that one in three Americans is a member of a stepfamily. Remarriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages.
12.9 Trends in American Families
1. Being single: Many people are choosing never to marry.
2. Cohabitation: Some opposite-sex couples choose to live together without marrying; same-sex couples are not given the option of marriage.
3. Single parenting: Some people become single parents after a divorce or the other parent’s death; others choose to raise children on their own.
4. Intentional communities: A variety of different groups form communal living arrangements. Intentional communities include ecovillages, communes, co-ops, and monasteries.
12.10 The Postmodern Family
Currently, many family structures are being formed that look very different from the traditional family. These improvisational forms of family are a response to the changing needs of family. Though these nontraditional family structures have always existed, the model has only recently entered the mainstream.
1. Nonprofit organizations and employees are devoted to serving the greater good and not to financial gain. Social scientists refer to these workers as the third sector of the economy. The third sector is an altruistic and commendable aspect of our society.
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