The Family

The Family
Sociology 101
Family is a set of people related by blood,
marriage, or adoption who shares the
primary responsibility for reproduction
and caring for members of society
• The family is a universal institution
present in all cultures
Composition: What Is
the Family?
Nuclear Family
• The nuclear family
consists of a married
couple and their
unmarried children living
• Nuclear families have steadily decreased
over the last 30 years.
• By 2000, only about a third of U.S. family
households fit this model
Extended Family
• An extended family is
a family in which
relatives such as
grandparents, aunts,
or uncles live in the
same home as parents
and their children.
• Extended families
provide greater
emotional and
financial support.
Types of Marriage
Monogamy is a
form of marriage
where one woman
and one man are
married only to
each other
Serial Monogamy
A form of marriage
where a person
may have several
spouses in his/her
lifetime but only
one spouse at a
Polygamy is a situation where you are allowed to
have more than one husband or wife.
Polygamy takes two forms:
1. Polygyny is when a man marries more than
one woman at the same time
2. Polyandry is when a woman marries more
than one man at the same time.
Authority Patterns: Who
• When males are expected to dominate in all
family decision making, that society is a
• When women have greater authority than men,
that society is a matriarchy.
Egalitarian family
• A family in which spouses are regarded as
Global View of the Family
█ Figure 14.1: Households by Family Type, 1940–2000
Source: Fields and
Casper 2001.
Studying the Family
• Functionalist View
– The family serves six functions for
• Reproduction
• Protection
• Socialization
• Regulation of sexual behavior
• Affection
• Providing of social status
Studying the Family
• Conflict View
– The conflict view believes that family
reflects the inequality in wealth and
power found within society.
– The conflict view recognizes that
historically, husbands exercised power
and authority within the family.
– The conflict view sees the family as an
economic unit contributing to social
Studying the Family
Interactionist View
The interactionist view focuses on the micro
level of family and other intimate
– The interactionist view is interested in how
individuals interact with each other,
1. cohabiting partners or
2. long-term married couples.
Social-exchange analysis depicts courtship and
marriage as forms of negotiation.
Studying the Family
█ Table 14.1: The Four Major Perspectives on the Family
The family as a contributor to social stability
Roles of family members
The family as a perpetuator of inequality
Transmission of poverty or wealth across generations
Relationships among family members
Family as a perpetuator of gender roles Female-headed
Courtship and Mate
• Ninety percent (90) percent of all men and
women in the U.S. will marry at least once
• Many societies have explicit or unstated
rules which define potential mates as
acceptable or unacceptable
Courtship and Mate
Aspects of Mate Selection
Endogamy: Endogamy specifies the groups
within which a spouse must be found and
prohibits marriage with members of other
Exogamy: Exogamy requires mate selection
outside certain groups, usually one’s own
family or certain kin
• Marriage between Blacks and whites have
increased more than six fold in recent
decades. Twenty percent of all married
Hispanics have a non-Hispanic spouse.
Courtship and Mate Selection
- The Love Relationship
• Our culture celebrates romantic love – affection
and sexual passion for another person – as the
basis for marriage
• Industrialization erodes the importance of
extended families, weakens traditions, and
enhances personal choice in courtship
Child-Rearing Patterns in Family Life
• Dual-Income Families
• Among married people between the ages of
25 and 34, 96 percent of the men and 72
percent of the women are in the labor force.
• Majority of married people are dual-wage
earners due to economic need
• Nation’s declining birthrate, the increase in the
proportion of women with college education
contribute to this pattern.
Single-Parent Families
The U.S. has the highest rate of teenage
• The majority of babies born to unwed
teenage mothers are born to White
• 82 percent of single parents in the U.S.
are mothers.
Marriage and Family
█ Figure 14.3: Rise of One-Parent Families among Whites, African
Americans, Hispanic, and Asians or Pacific Islanders in the United States
Source: Bureau of the
Census 1994:63;
Fields and Casper 2001:7.
The US has by far the highest divorce rate in
the industrialized world.
Divorce began to increase in the late 1960s and
has declined since the 1980s
About two-thirds of divorced women and threefourths of divorced men remarry
Of those who divorce before the age of 35,
70% remarry.
Factors Associated with Divorce
1. Greater social acceptance
2. Relaxing of negative attitudes by religious
3. States adopting more liberal divorce laws (no
4. Marriage at an early age.
5. A short acquaintanceship before marriage
6. Disapproval of marriage by relatives and friends
7. Limited economic resources and low wages.
8. A high school education or less.
9. Living in a big city as opposed to rural settings.
Risk of divorce is higher during the early years
of marriage.
Impact of Divorce
• About 70 percent of all divorces creates
unhappiness in children.
• Women’s income usually decreases after divorce.
Effects on Children
• More likely to drop out of school
• Suffer from drug/alcohol abuse
• More psychological problems
• More likely to divorce.
The Family
 Almost half of the couples who have married
have lived together
 Not an alternative to marriage, 98% of college
students plan to marry at some point
 Divorce rates appear to be higher for couples
who have lived together
Same Sex Couples
 The National Health and Social Life Survey found
that 2.8 percent of men and 1.4 percent of
women report some level of homosexual or
bisexual identity
 Recognition of same-sex partnerships is not
uncommon in Europe including Denmark,
Holland, Switzerland, and Spain.