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Diversity in Families Chapter 1
9th Edition Chapter 1: Images, Ideals, and Myths
Terms in this set (54)
Erving Goffman's term, a "backstage" in a family is
where people are free to act in ways they would not in public; much of the intimacy of family life remains hidden here.
Erving Goffman's term, a "frontstage" in a family is
behavior to maintain a proper appearance in front of others; we judge others only in terms of their frontstage presentations.
Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell (1980) has found that most societies exhibit a gap between family ideals and family realities--
between what people say about their family behavior and the real behavior that takes place in families.
"Family" in U.S. society is a symbol, a visual image that speaks to us through the senses
including smells, tastes, textures, motions and sounds from our own remembered experiences, as well as through our dreams and longings about what family should be.
At least three distinct images of the family have emerged:
the family as haven; the family as fulfillment, and the family as encumbrance.
The family as haven is
an image of a refuge from an impersonal world characterizes the family as a place of intimacy, love, and trust in which individuals may escape the competition in modern society.
The family as fulfillment
is more compensatory than protective. it supplies what is vitally needed but missing in other social arrangements.
The family as encumbrance
is a negative image; blaming the family for inhibiting our full human development; this view calls for freedom from domestic relationships.
has become a new cultural ideal; balancing work and family, meshing her multiple roles perfectly; able to work 40 hours a week, keep a clean house and still have time to entertain.
is both productive and nurturing and who shares fully in the work of running the household.
stands for the Standard North American Family, an ideological code that distorts family reality and glorifies the two-parent family model.
author of The Way We Never Were, finds that guilt is a common reaction to the discord between images and reality.
are beliefs that are held uncritically and without examination or scrutiny. they are bound up with nostalgic memory, selective perception, and cultural values concerning what is typical and true about the family.
Families past are presented
to us not only as more stable but as more authentic than families present; simpler and less problematic.
Two points must be made about the stubborn myth of a vanished family past:
Family historians have found that there has never been a golden age of the family; and to judge marriage of the past as better than contemporary marriage is to ignore historical changes. We expect more of marriage, but this fact makes modern marriage neither better nor worse, only different.
The myth of separate worlds
is the notion that family is a place to escape from the outside world; the idea that families exist in opposition to the rest of the world is a false dichotomy with contradictory expectations.
is the myth of separate worlds and leads to the belief that the family survives or sinks by its own resources and fitness that blames families for structural failure.
The Myth of the Monolithic Family Form
Invariably, the image is of a White, middle-class, heterosexual father as breadwinner, mother as homemaker, and children at home living in a one-family house. (aka: the normal American family).
refers to a set of social relationships; a kinship group.
refers to residence or living arrangements; a residence group that carries out domestic functions.
People may share a household and not consider themselves a family,
and people may feel like a family while not living together.
The vast majority of single-parent households are maintained by
mothers; the most striking change in the national profile of families is the rise in mother-only households and the poverty that often accompanies them.
Less than 50 percent of children in the United States
live in "traditional nuclear families" that have two biological parents married to each other, full-blown siblings only, and no other household members.
Today, racial ethnics make up
one-fourth of the U.S. population.
The first thing to remember about the American family is
that it does not exist; families exist; all kinds of families in all kinds of economic and marital situation.
The Myth of a Unified Family Experience
is the conception of the family as a unified group; as a glued together family, treated as if it were a single unit with a single set of interests.
Two key components of all families are
(1) the gender system, and the (2) age system.
The family as a gendered institution
is one of the most important themes in family research; there are gender differences in every aspect of family living; every marital union actually contains two marriages--his, and hers.
is the term used to refer to social relations in which men are dominate over women; men are accorded more prestige and more privileges; they wield greater power.
The Myth of Family Consensus
assumes that families are based on companionate or consensual relations, on a harmony of interest among family members.
Family life can be contentious due to the following conditions:
(1) power relations within the family; (2) competitive aspects of family relations; (3) new patterns of work and leisure, which lead to different activities for family members; and (4) the intense emotional quality of family life.
Lillian Rubin has captured well the duality of family experience:
The family as an institution is both oppressive and protective, and depending on the issue, is experienced sometimes one way, sometimes the other; often in some mis of the two by most people who live in families.
The Myth of Family Decline as the Cause of Social Problems
the myth that the breakdown of the family is responsible for many societal ills.
The Personal Responsibility and Welfare Reform Act declared in its preamble
that the married, two-parent family is the foundation of a successful society; according to this logic, the two-parent family is the basis of social order.
Any change in family structure is viewed as
moral decline; a loss of "family values." but the debate about declining family values is really about a decline in a particular family structure.
Legalizing of gay marriage opponents
argue that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples; same sex marriage violates the definition of marriage; is harmful to children and to society; destroying the family and threatens social order.
What is wrong with the claim that family decline is the root cause of many social problems?
(1) it reverses the relationship between family and society by treating the family as the building block of society rather than a product of social conditions and (2) it ignores the structural reasons for family breakdown; divorce and single parent-hood are the consequences of social and economic dislocations rather than the cause, as some would have us believe.
The important question to ask about U.S. families is
not how well do they conform to a particular image of the family, but rather, "how well do they function."
The Sociological Perspective
is an examination of forces beyond individuals and outside the family; examines how families are changing in the context of broad political, economic, and technological shifts.
Two sociological principles are
(1) that there is a close relationship between families and the larger society that shapes them, and (2) a critical examination of family and society that questions the existing myths, stereotypes, and official dogma.
The macro level
examines the family in relation to the rest of society; in reference to societal trends; it also illustrates how larger social systems shape the smaller family systems.
The micro level of analysis
examines the internal dynamics of family life; we examine the varied experiences of kinship, intimacy and domestic sharing.
refers to the basic assumptions that scholars have of the social worlds they study; a family paradigm includes basic conceptual frameworks; models of families in society; and the field's important problems, questions, concepts, and methods of study.
The notion of a standard family type was an important feature of the dominant paradigm known as
One scholar calls this stage of development a "Big Bang"
a dramatic period of diversification in family studies; not only are families and households becoming more diverse and fluid in the new century, but diversity and fluidity are now "normal."
The most frequently used ____ method is the sample survey, which focuses on specific behaviors or attitudes and on factors that are hypothesized to influence them.
Qualitative researchers begin with the premise that
human activity is interpretive activity; we cannot do anything without its having some meanings; how people interpret what they do; this research begins with questions in mind rather than with specific hypotheses; the process of discovery of the implicit and explicit categories through which people define and construct their interpersonal activity.
measurement, statistical analysis, and generalization of findings from a sample to a population are the distinguishing feature of this method of research.
There are two main types of qualitative research procedures:
(1) ethnography (observing people and talking to them over a period of weeks, month, or years, and (2) unstructured, semi-structured or in-depth interviewing;
The Structural Diversity Approach
views all families in society as shaped through their interaction with social structures; draws from many scholarly fields including history, economics, anthropology, and psychological as well as the new fields of women's studies, African American studies, Latino studies, and cultural studies.
This new perspective on families (the structural diversity approach) incorporates the following themes:
(1) Families are socially constructed and historically changing;
(2) Family diversity is produced by the same structures that organize society as a whole.
(3) Families are embedded in and shaped by interconnected systems of class, race and gender.
(4) Family diversity is constructed through social structure as well as the actions of family members.
(5) Understanding families means challenging monolithic ideas that conceive of the family in idealistic ways.
Six myths that underscore the disparities between idealized and real patterns of family life:
1) The myth of a stable and harmonious family of the past romanticizes the traditional families of our forebears.
2) The myth of separate worlds polarizes family and sociey.
3) The myth of the monolithic family form assumes that all families are nuclear in structure; composed of a father, mother, and children, etc.this model accounts for only 7 % of families in the U.S.
4) The myth of a unified family experience assumes that all family members have common needs, interests, and experiences. Gender and age create different experiences for women and men, adults and children.
5) The myth of family consensus assumes that families operate on principles of harmony and love.
6) The myth of family decline blames social problems on eroding family values, ignoring the changing economic conditions that produce divorce and single-parent families.
These structures of inequality work together to place families in particular
social locations. Not only do race, class, and gender shape families in different ways, their linkages mean that people of the same race may experience family differently depending on their social location.
is a process by which human beings shape their families through their own actions and behaviors.
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