Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)

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As urbanization increases in these cultures, polygamy is likely to decrease as a result of greater access to mass media, technology, and education Altman and Ginat, In Canada, polygamy is considered by most to be socially unacceptable and it is illegal. The act of entering into marriage while still married to another person is referred to as bigamy and is prohibited by Section of the Criminal Code of Canada Minister of Justice, Polygamy in Canada is often associated with those of the Mormon faith, although in the Mormon Church officially renounced polygamy.

The prevalence of polygamy among Mormons is often overestimated due to sensational media stories such as the prosecution of polygamous sect leaders in Bountiful, B. It is estimated that there are about 37, fundamentalist Mormons involved in polygamy in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, but that number has shown a steady decrease in the last years Useem, North American Muslims, however, are an emerging group with an estimated 20, practicing polygamy.

This pattern of tracing kinship is called bilateral descent. In partrilineal societies, such as those in rural China and India, only males carry on the family surname. This gives males the prestige of permanent family membership while females are seen as only temporary members Harrell, North American society assumes some aspects of partrilineal decent. In matrilineal societies, inheritance and family ties are traced to women. Matrilineal descent is common in Native American societies, notably the Crow and Cherokee tribes.

In ambilineal societies, which are most common in Southeast Asian countries, parents may choose to associate their children with the kinship of either the mother or the father. In many cultures, newly married couples move in with, or near to, family members. Patrilocal systems can be traced back thousands of years. In a DNA analysis of 4,year-old bones found in Germany, scientists found indicators of patrilocal living arrangements Haak et al.

Patrilocal residence is thought to be disadvantageous to women because it makes them outsiders in the home and community; it also keeps them disconnected from their own blood relatives. The Minangkabau people, a matrilocal society that is indigenous to the highlands of West Sumatra in Indonesia, believe that home is the place of women and they give men little power in issues relating to the home or family Joseph and Najmabadi, Most societies that use patrilocal and patrilineal systems are patriarchal, but very few societies that use matrilocal and matrilineal systems are matriarchal, as family life is often considered an important part of the culture for women, regardless of their power relative to men.

As we have established, the concept of family has changed greatly in recent decades. Historically, it was often thought that most certainly many families evolved through a series of predictable stages. Today, however, these models have been criticized for their linear and conventional assumptions as well as for their failure to capture the diversity of family forms. While reviewing some of these once-popular theories, it is important to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

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  8. The set of predictable steps and patterns families experience over time is referred to as the family life cycle. One of the first designs of the family life cycle was developed by Paul Glick in This cycle will then continue with each subsequent generation Glick, The family life cycle was used to explain the different processes that occur in families over time. Sociologists view each stage as having its own structure with different challenges, achievements, and accomplishments that transition the family from one stage to the next.

    Marital satisfaction of husbands and wives, for example, tends to be high at the beginning of the marriage and remain so into the procreation stage children ages The success of a family can be measured by how well they adapt to these challenges and transition into each stage. One example is the family life course , which recognizes the events that occur in the lives of families but views them as parting terms of a fluid course rather than in consecutive stages Strong and DeVault, This type of model accounts for changes in family development, such as the fact that today, childbearing does not always occur with marriage.

    It also sheds light on other shifts in the way family life is practised. Whether you grew up watching the Cleavers, the Waltons, the Huxtables, or the Simpsons, most of the iconic families you saw in television sitcoms included a father, a mother, and children cavorting under the same roof while comedy ensued. While some shows of this era portrayed single parents My Three Sons and Bonanza , for instance , the single status almost always resulted from being widowed, not divorced or unwed.

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    4. Although family dynamics in real North American homes were changing, the expectations for families portrayed on television were not. The late s and the s saw the introduction of the dysfunctional family. Shows such as Roseanne , Married with Children , and The Simpsons portrayed traditional nuclear families, but in a much less flattering light than those from the s did Museum of Broadcast Communications, Over the past 10 years, the nontraditional family has become somewhat of a tradition in television.

      While most situation comedies focus on single men and women without children, those that do portray families often stray from the classic structure: they include unmarried and divorced parents, adopted children, gay couples, and multigenerational households. Even those that do feature traditional family structures may show less traditional characters in supporting roles, such as the brothers in the highly rated shows Everybody Loves Raymond and Two and Half Men.

      The show follows an extended family that includes a divorced and remarried father with one stepchild, and his biological adult children — one of who is in a traditional two-parent household, and the other who is a gay man in a committed relationship raising an adopted daughter. According to census data, only As we noted above, this two-parent family structure is known as a nuclear family , referring to married parents and children as the nucleus, or core, of the group. Recent years have seen a rise in variations of the nuclear family with the parents not being married.

      The proportion of children aged 14 and under who live with two unmarried cohabiting parents increased from Single-parent households are also on the rise. Of that Stepparents are an additional family element in two-parent homes. In some family structures a parent is not present at all.

      In , , children 1. If we also include families in which both parents and grandparents are present about 4. Foster children account for about 0. A grandparent functioning as the primary care provider often results from parental drug abuse, incarceration, or abandonment. Events like these can render the parent incapable of caring for his or her child. Changes in the traditional family structure raise questions about how such societal shifts affect children.

      Research, mostly from American sources, has shown that children living in homes with both parents grow up with more financial and educational advantages than children who are raised in single-parent homes U. Census Bureau, The Canadian data is not so clear.

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      It is true that children growing up in single-parent families experience a lower economic standard of living than families with two parents. Single-parent families do not make up a larger percentage of low-income families Human Resources Development Canada, Moreover, both the income Williams, and the educational attainment Human Resources Development Canada, of single mothers in Canada has been increasing, which in turn is linked to higher levels of life satisfaction.

      In research published from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth a long-term study initiated in that is following the development of a large cohort of children from birth to the age of 25 , the evidence is ambiguous as to whether having single or dual parents has a significant effect on child development outcomes. In fact, significant markers of poor developmental attainment were more related to the sex of the child more pronounced in boys , maternal depression, low maternal education, maternal immigrant status, and low family income To, et al.

      For example, young children in low-income families are more likely to have vocabulary problems, and young children in higher-income families have more opportunities to participate in recreational activities Human Resources Development Canada, In Sweden, where the government provides generous paid parental leave after the birth of a child, free health care, temporary paid parental leave for parents with sick children, high-quality subsidized daycare, and substantial direct child-benefit payments for each child, indicators of child well-being literacy, levels of child poverty, rates of suicide, etc.

      Living together before or in lieu of marriage is a growing option for many couples. Cohabitation, when a man and woman live together in a sexual relationship without being married, was practised by an estimated 1. This surge in cohabitation is likely due to the decrease in social stigma pertaining to the practice. In Quebec in particular, researchers have noted that it is common for married couples under the age of 50 to describe themselves in terms used more in cohabiting relationships than marriage: mon conjoint partner or mon chum intimate friend rather than mon mari my husband Le Bourdais and Juby, In fact, cohabitation or common-law marriage is much more prevalent in Quebec Cohabitating couples may choose to live together in an effort to spend more time together or to save money on living costs.

      About one-half of cohabitators transition into marriage within three years U. Those who do not cohabitate before marriage have slightly better rates of remaining married for more than 10 years Jayson, Cohabitation may contribute to the increase in the number of men and women who delay marriage. The average age of first marriage has been steadily increasing. In , the average age of first marriage was The number of same-sex couples has grown significantly in the past decade. Some provinces and territories had already adopted legal same-sex marriage, beginning with Ontario in June Of these, about three in ten were same-sex married couples compared to These increases are a result of more coupling, the change in the marriage laws, growing social acceptance of homosexuality, and a subsequent increase in willingness to report it.

      In Canada, same-sex couples make up 0. Census Bureau, , the distribution of same-sex couples in Canada by province or territory is similar to that of opposite-sex couples. However, same-sex couples are more highly concentrated in big cities.

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      In terms of demographics, Canadian same-sex couples tended to be younger than opposite-sex couples. There were more male-male couples Additionally, 9.

      While there is some concern from socially conservative groups especially in the United States regarding the well-being of children who grow up in same-sex households, research reports that same-sex parents are as effective as opposite-sex parents. In an analysis of 81 parenting studies, sociologists found no quantifiable data to support the notion that opposite-sex parenting is any better than same-sex parenting.

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      Children of lesbian couples, however, were shown to have slightly lower rates of behavioural problems and higher rates of self-esteem Biblarz and Stacey, Gay or straight, a new option for many Canadians is simply to stay single. In , about one-fifth of all individuals over the age of 15 did not live in a couple or family Statistics Canada, Never-married individuals accounted for More young men in this age bracket are single than young women — Although both single men and single women report social pressure to get married, women are subject to greater scrutiny.

      However, single women older than 35 report feeling secure and happy with their unmarried status, as many women in this category have found success in their education and careers. In general, women feel more independent and more prepared to live a large portion of their adult lives without a spouse or domestic partner than they did in the s Roberts, The decision to marry or not to marry can be based a variety of factors including religion and cultural expectations.

      Asian individuals are the most likely to marry while Black North Americans are the least likely to marry Venugopal, Additionally, individuals who place no value on religion are more likely to be unmarried than those who place a high value on religion. For Black women, however, the importance of religion made no difference in marital status Bakalar, In general, being single is not a rejection of marriage; rather, it is a lifestyle that does not necessarily include marriage.

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      Sociologists study families on both the macro- and micro-level to determine how families function. Sociologists may use a variety of theoretical perspectives to explain events that occur within and outside of the family. In this Introduction to Sociology , we have been focusing on three perspectives: structural functionalism, critical sociology, and symbolic interactionism.

      When considering the role of family in society, functionalists uphold the notion that families are an important social institution and that they play a key role in stabilizing society. They also note that family members take on status roles in a marriage or family. The family — and its members — perform certain functions that facilitate the prosperity and development of society.


      Murdock conducted a survey of societies and determined that there are four universal residual functions of the family: sexual, reproductive, educational, and economic Lee, In each society, although the structure of the family varies, the family performs these four functions. According to Murdock, the family which for him includes the state of marriage regulates sexual relations between individuals.

      He does not deny the existence or impact of premarital or extramarital sex, but states that the family offers a socially legitimate sexual outlet for adults Lee, Although societies differ greatly to the degree that that they place limitations on sexual behaviour, all societies have norms governing sexual behavior. The function of the family is to establish the stated norms around sexual gratification.

      This outlet for legitimate sexual relations gives way to reproduction, which is a necessary part of ensuring the survival of society. Each society needs to replace the older people with new generations of young people. Again, the institution of the family provides a socially legitimate and regulated form in which children are produced and given recognized status in society. Societies which practice celibacy, like the religious community of the Shakers — an offshoot of the Quakers who believed in the second appearance of Jesus Christ — were dysfunctional in this regard as they were unable to maintain sufficient population to remain viable.

      By the s there were only 12 Shaker communities left in the United States. Once children are produced, the family plays a vital role in training them for adult life. As the primary agent of socialization, the family teaches young children the ways of thinking and behaving that follow social and cultural norms, values, beliefs, and attitudes. Parents teach their children manners and civility.

      A well-mannered child presumably reflects a well-mannered parent. In most societies, the family unit is responsible for establishing the emotional security and sense of personal self-worth of its members, which begins in childhood. When families fail to do this they are seen as dysfunctional. Parents also teach children gender roles. Gender roles are an important part of the economic function of a family.

      Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)
      Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)
      Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)
      Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)
      Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)
      Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)
      Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities (Annual Review of Sociology Book 34)

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