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Soc_Fam_Feb 10
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Soc_Fam_Feb 10


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  • 1. “Myths”  We are nostalgic for a family that never quite existed.  “Nuclear” not so clear.      Marriage trends Divorce rates Definitions of childhood The role of work and the economy The family as “happiness”
  • 2. What is a Family?  You’re read and responded to Coontz and you’ve each had different and valid responses, so let’s take a few minutes to develop our own working definitions.  Karen will record these and post to our course site. At the end of the course, we will revisit our “definitions.”
  • 3. Sociological Frames  The family as:  An economic unit (Work, labor, and finances)  As a site of gender & race & class politics (Care work & managing populations)  As a site of “reproduction.” (Children & workers)  As a site of socialization (The labor of parenting)  As a site of “safety” or “domesticity” (contra “the factory)  As as site of “happiness” or lack thereof  As a site of “personal” fulfillment & choice
  • 4. As Economic Unit  Historically, the family has been a unit of economic production  Family as “business”  Family as site of labor  Wealth Accumulation  The transmission of wealth via genealogical lines  This is true across class distinctions
  • 5. Gender, Race & Class  e-domestic-workers-invisible-history-america  Care work is political work. Who cares for whom and why?
  • 6. Site of Reproduction  The family is endless site of worry with regards to “reproduction.”  Does this just mean babies?  What is “social reproduction”?  Marx &Engles “The Origin of the Family”  Feminist Marxist work of 1970s  Silvia Federici, Wages for Housework
  • 7. Socialization  How are parents charged with the socialization of children?  How is such parenting “policed”?
  • 8. “Haven in a Heartless World”  With the rise of Industrial Capitalism (What is this?) the spheres of WORK and HOME are separated.  Compare this with the family in an agricultural society?  The HOME becomes associated with a place free from the cares of the WORKPLACE… but…
  • 9. “Happiness”: Morality & Consumption
  • 10. Cultural Backlash  1960’s & 1970s Feminist Study of the family  1963 Betty Friedan “The Feminist Mystique” "The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban [house]wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries … she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — 'Is this all?
  • 11. Personal Choice  1980s: Divorce becomes public issue.  The rise of the companionate form of marriage. (Define)  Delayed childbearing (education, social class here)