The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to
their children they are heaven's lieutenants.
Define “The Family”
Take three or four minutes and write a definition for
Then, for the sake of time, make a short list of one
or two word descriptions, such as “blood relation,”
or “supportive,” etc. We will put them on the board
According to Murdock (1949), the family is “a
social group whose members are related by
ancestry, marriage, or adoption and live
together, cooperate economically, and care for
the young.” (From Hughes and Kroehler, 2007)
But others see the family as “a close knit group
of people who care about and respect each
other.” (From Lauer and Lauer, 2000)
Essentially the family is the basic unit of
society—the most important group. Or is it?
It would be, at least, the quintessential primary
Sociologists view the family as an
institution—both a pattern of behaviors
and a set of cultural expectations.
(Konradi and Schmidt, 2004)
How has each culture's configuration of the family
changed over time? I.e. Gatherer/Hunter, Pastoral,
Agricultural, Complex Agricultural, Industrial, Post
How has the configuration of the
Western/European/American family changed over time
relative to said cultural configurations?
How have and do men's and women's roles differ and
how are they the same?Two primary approaches:
Conflict and FunctionalistPatriarchy
(functional/conservative) versus egalitarian
Tribes, communities, cities, society (Gemeinschaft and
Industrialization: Different jobs for men and women.
Role changes. Both men and women in factories.
Children in factories. Wage labor. Artificial light and
The "mills." Working outside the home.Education for
women and children in 19th century.
Suffrage and first sexual revolution.
Nuclear family composition.
Second sexual revolution.
Careers for women and the need for child care. (US
While there is some consistency over time in
the way families form and the roles members
take, new ways of forming stable, supportive
economic and social relationships are always
Additionally one must consider two types of
Family of orientation
Family of procreation
Which are you?
Could this be a phenomenon
that is increasing as due to
current economic conditions?
1 The patrilocal residence which is when the
bride and groom live in the household of the
2 Matrilocal, which is living with the bride’s family.
3 Neolocal, which is living in a new residence
separate from either family.
1 Patriarchal authority is the power domination of
the eldest male in the family. Examples are
ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans.
2 Matriarchal would be the holding of power in
the woman. There is some controversy over
there having actually been or is such a social
According to Howard Zinn (1995), a
matrilineal arrangement existed among the
Iroquois: the family line went down through the
3 Finally is the egalitarian authority—a shared
power arrangement where authority is equally
distributed between husband and wife.
Again the Iroquois are a good example of an
egalitarian society, the women having a say in
the local politics and able to vote to remove
men from office. (Zinn, 1995)
More and more
up and reunite
What is the importance of family stability and fixed
types of families?
Consider the transfer of property and the
responsibility for children.
What is marriage to you?
Write about this for three or four minutes for
Endogamy (marriage within the group)
Exogomy (marriage outside of the group)
What are some advantages or disadvantages
4 Group marriage
According to Hughes and Kroehler, citing
Murdock, 1967, “monogamy was the preferred
or ideal type of marriage in only 20 percent of
862 societies included in one cross cultural
sample.” (This does not mean that the majority
of marriage types allows for such an
arrangement—one must be able to afford it.)
American couples are more conventional than
might be expected.
For instance: although 60 percent of wives
polled by Blumstein and Schwartz were
employed outside the home, only 30 percent of
the men and 39 percent of the women believed
that both spouses should work. (1983)
1 Matching Hypothesis: Individuals of similar
or equal attractiveness are drawn to each other.
2 Complementary Needs Theory:Opposites
attract. Each partner fulfills the gap that the
3 Exchange Theory
3 Exchange Theory:
a) We like those who reward us and dislike
those who punish us.
b) How do we benefit from a relationship?
c) Matching is by persons of similar physical
attractiveness—thus we minimize the risk of
d) The exchange of behaviors is one of low
risk and high reward.
While the conventionality of couple remains
strong, the shape of families is in flux.
Do we need marriage?
Consider Popenoe’s criticism of Sweden.
(See excerpt if available. Otherwise use following
slides.) Discuss or write about:
Do we need marriage if, as in Sweden:
1. Parental leave at 90 percent of salary
2. Free day care
3. Child support payments and housing subsidies (at a
higher level for single than married parents)
4. Free medical and dental care
5. Free education to the university level
6. Never-married or divorced mothers are not plunged
into poverty, and no child grows up hungry,
unsupervised, or undereducated.
However consider Popenoe’s points based
upon his studies:
1. In mother-only families, children have fewer (if any)
sibling companions and adult role models).
2. Parents and children do fewer things together as a
3. They have less time to develop family-centered
routines and traditions.
4. Children lack the security of knowing their parents will
try to stay together…
5. Loss of familialism: the belief in a strong sense of
family identification and loyalty, mutual assistance
among family members and a concern for the
perpetuation of the family unit.
Indeed, increasing numbers of Americans no
longer view marriage as a permanent institution
but as something that can be ended and
reentered. (Hughes and Kroehler, 2007)
More than one American youngster in four lives
with just one parent. (Kroehler and Hughes,
Divorce results in in a slight increase in income
for the father while causing a “precipitous and
sustained decline in household income for the
mother an child.”
(Hughes & Kroehler 2007)
Lowest divorce rate: Connecticut,
Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
Mass has lowest divorce rate: 2.4 per 1k
Highest in the “Bible Belt”
Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia,
Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South
Carolina, and Texas
Born-again Christians have highest divorce rate
Slide credited to Excelsior College
More couples in the South enter their first marriage
at a younger age.
Average household incomes are lower in the South.
Southern states have a lower percentage of Roman
Catholics, "a denomination that does not recognize
divorce." Barna's study showed that 21 percent of
Catholics had been divorced, compared with 29
percent of Baptists.
Slide credited to Excelsior College
Education. Massachusetts has about the highest rate of
education in the country, with 85 percent completing high
school. For Texas the rate is 76 percent. One third of
Massachusetts residents have completed college, compared
with 23 percent of Texans, and the other Northeast states are
right behind Massachusetts.
The liberals from Massachusetts have long prided themselves
on their emphasis on education, and it has paid off: People
who stay in school longer get married at a later age, when
they are more mature, are more likely to secure a better job,
and job income increases with each level of formal education.
As a result, Massachusetts also leads in per capita and family
income while births by teenagers, as a percent of total births,
was 7.4 for Massachusetts and 16.1 for Texas.
Slide credited to Excelsior College
Interestingly enough, cohabiting before
marriage does NOT assure that the
marriage will last.
Cohabiters who cohabit serially are more
likely to divorce than those who do not
Cohabiting, however, is becoming a natural
form of courtship in the US.
Is it replacing marriage?