Chapter 14. Marriage and Family
Figure 14.1. V so plenty of unmarried couples living together and also having children, is marriage becoming obsolete? (Photo courtesy the Nina Matthews/flickr)

Learning Objectives

14.1. What Is Marriage? What Is a Family?

Define “the family”.Describe micro, meso, and macro ideologies to the family.Outline the sociological approach to the dynamics of attraction and love.Analyze changes in marriage and also family patterns.Understand the impact of the family life bicycle on the top quality of family members experience.

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14.2. Sport in family members Life

Recognize sports in family life.Describe the various forms the the family members including the atom family, single-parent families, cohabitation, same-sex couples, and unmarried individuals.Discuss the functionalist, critical, and also symbolic interactionist perspectives ~ above the modern family.

14.3. Challenges Families Face

Understand the social and interpersonal influence of divorce.Describe the problems of household abuse and discuss whether corporal punishment is a kind of abuse.

Introduction come Marriage and Family

Christina and James met in college and have been date for much more than 5 years. For the past two years, they have been living together in a condo they purchased jointly. When Christina and James were confident in their decision to go into into a commitment (such together a 20-year mortgage), they are unsure if they desire to enter into marriage. The pair had countless discussions around marriage and decided that it simply did no seem necessary. Was it not just a piece of paper? did not fifty percent of every marriages end in divorce?

Neither Christina no one James had seen lot success with marital relationship while growing up. Christina was increased by a single mother. She parents never ever married, and also her father has had little contact through the family due to the fact that she was a toddler. Christina and also her mom lived with her maternal grandmother, who often served as a surrogate parent. James grew up in a two-parent family until period seven, when his parental divorced. That lived v his mommy for a couple of years, and also then later on with his mother and her boyfriend till he left for college. James continued to be close through his father that remarried and had a baby v his brand-new wife.

Recently, Christina and also James have actually been thinking around having children and the topic of marriage has resurfaced. Christina likes the idea that her kids growing up in a traditional family, if James is involved about possible marital difficulties down the roadway and an unfavorable consequences because that the kids should the occur. As soon as they common these involves with their parents, James’s mommy was adamant that the pair should get married. In spite of having been divorced and also having a live-in boyfriend of 15 years, she trust that children are better off once their parents are married. Christina’s mom believes the the couple should do whatever they want however adds that it would certainly “be nice” if lock wed. Christina and also James’s friends told them, married or not married, they would still it is in a family.

Christina and also James’s scenario may be complicated, however it is representative that the resides of countless young couples today, particularly those in urban locations (Useem, 2007). Statistics Canada (2012) reports the the number of unmarried, common-law couples flourished by 35% in between 2001 and 2011, to make up a total of 16.7% the all households in Canada. Cohabitating, but unwed, couples account for 16.7% the all families in Canada. Some might never choose to wed (Jayson, 2008). Through fewer couples marrying, the classic Canadian family members structure is coming to be less common. Nevertheless, return the portion of timeless married couples has declined as a relationship of every families, at 67% of every families, the is tho by much the predominant household structure.

14.1. What Is Marriage? What Is a Family?

Figure 14.2. The modern-day concept of household is far an ext encompassing 보다 in previous decades. What perform you think constitutes a family? (Photo (a) courtesy of Gareth Williams/flickr; photograph (b) courtesy the Guillaume Paumier/ Wikimedia Commons)

Marriage and family are an essential structures in many societies. When the two institutions have historically been closely linked in Canadian culture, their link is becoming much more complex. The relationship in between marriage and also family is frequently taken because that granted in the popular imagination but with the raising diversity of household forms in the 21st century your relationship requirements to it is in reexamined.

What is marriage? Different world define it in different ways. Not also sociologists room able to agree top top a single meaning. For our purposes, us will specify marriage as a legally recognized social contract between two people, traditionally based on a sexual relationship, and also implying a permanence the the union. In producing an inclusive definition, we should additionally consider variations, such together whether a formal legal union is forced (think the common-law marriage and also its equivalents), or whether an ext than two civilization can be connected (consider polygamy). Various other variations top top the an interpretation of marriage might include even if it is spouses room of opposite sexes or the exact same sex, and how among the classic expectations of marriage (to create children) is construed today.

Sociologists room interested in the relationship between the institution of marriage and the institution of family because, historically, marital relationships are what develop a family, and also families are the most an easy social unit ~ above which society is built. Both marriage and also family produce status duties that space sanctioned by society.

So what is a family? A husband, a wife, and also two kids — maybe also a pets — offered as the design for the classic Canadian household for most of the 20th century. But what around families the deviate indigenous this model, such together a single-parent family members or a homosexual pair without children? need to they be considered families together well?

The inquiry of what constitutes a family members is a prime area of controversy in family sociology, as well as in politics and religion. Social conservatives have tendency to specify the family members in terms of a “traditional” nuclear family members structure with each family members member pour it until it is full a certain function (like father, mother, or child). Sociologists, top top the other hand, often tend to specify family much more in terms of the manner in i beg your pardon members relate come one one more than ~ above a strict configuration of status roles. Here, we will define family as a socially recognized team joined by blood relations, marriage, or adoption, that forms an emotionally connection and also serves as an financial unit that society. Sociologists also identify different species of families based upon how one enters right into them. A family of orientation describes the family members into i m sorry a person is born. A family of procreation describes one the is created through marriage. This distinctions have cultural significance associated to worries of family tree (the difference in between patrilineal and also matrilineal descent for example).

Based top top Simmel’s difference between the form and content the social interaction (see chapter 6), we have the right to analyze the household as a social form that comes right into existence roughly five different contents or interests: sexual activity, financial cooperation, reproduction, socialization the children, and emotional support. As we might expect from Simmel’s analysis, the types of family kind in which every or some of these components are expressed space diverse: nuclear families, polygamous families, extended families, same-sex parental families, single-parent families, combined families, and zero-child families, etc. However, the develops that households take room not random; rather, these forms are established by cultural traditions, society structures, economic pressures, and historical transformations. They also are subject to intense moral and political debate around the an interpretation of the family, the “decline the the family,” or the policy choices to finest support the health of children. In this debates, sociology displayed its handy side as a technique that is qualified of providing the factual knowledge needed to do evidence-based decision on political and moral issues worrying the family.

The Macro, Meso and Micro Family

The household is fantastic example of an school that can be check at the micro-, meso-, and macro- level of analysis. For example, the debate in between functionalist and an important sociologists ~ above the increase of non-nuclear family forms is a macro-level debate. It concentrates on the family members in partnership to a culture as a whole. Since the 1950s, the functionalist method to the family has emphasized the prestige of the nuclear family — a cohabiting man and also woman who preserve a socially approved sexual relationship and have at the very least one son — as the straightforward unit of an orderly and also functional society. Although just 39% of family members conformed come this design in 2006, in functionalist approaches, it regularly operates as a version of the normal family, v the implication that non-normal household forms lead to a variety of society-wide dysfunctions such together crime, medicine use, poverty, and also welfare suspended .

On the various other hand, vital perspectives emphasize the inequalities and power connections within the family and their partnership to inequality in the broader society. The modern-day diversity of household forms does not show the “decline that the family” (i.e., the the appropriate of the atom family) yet the diverse responses that the family form to the emphasize of gender inequality and historical changes in the economy and society. The commonly large, prolonged family of the rural, agriculture-based economic climate 100 years ago in Canada was very different from the single breadwinner-led “nuclear” household of the Fordist economy following world War II; it is various again indigenous today’s family members who need to respond come economic problems of precarious employment, liquid modernity, and norms that gender and sexual equality. In the an essential perspective, the nuclear family should be believed of less as a normative design for how households should it is in and more as an historic anomaly that reflected the certain social and economic problems of the two years following the 2nd World War. These space analyses that collection out to know the household within the context of macro-level processes or culture as a whole.

At the meso-level, the sociology of mate selection and marital satisfaction disclose the various ways in i m sorry the dynamics of the group, or the family type itself, plot upon the desire, preferences, and also choices of individual actors. At the meso-level, sociologists are came to with the interaction within teams where multiple social roles communicate simultaneously. Since the spontaneity that romantic love and also notions of separation, personal, instance “chemistry” have become so central to our principles of mate an option in western societies, the is interesting to keep in mind the social and group impacts that impinge ~ above what otherwise appears a completely individual choice: the appraisal that socially defined “assets” in potential mates, in-group/out-group dynamics in girlfriend preference, and also demographic variables that influence the accessibility of preferable mates (see discussion below).

Similarly, the is feasible to speak that the life bicycle of marriages individually of the details individuals involved. This area of study is an additional meso-level analysis. Marital dissatisfaction and also divorce top in the 5th year the marriage and also again between the 15th and also 20th years of marriage. The visibility or absence of youngsters in the home additionally affects marital satisfaction — nonparents and also parents whose kids have left home have actually the highest possible level the marital satisfaction. Thus, the family kind itself appears to have integrated qualities or dynamics nevertheless of the personalities or certain qualities of family members.

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At the micro-level the analysis, sociologists emphasis on the dynamics in between individuals in ~ families. One example, of which more than likely every married couple is acutely aware, is the interaction dynamic defined by exchange theory. Exchange theory proposes that all relationships are based on giving and returning valued “goods” or “services.” people seek come maximize their rewards in their exchanges v others. Just how do they sweet up who is contributing more, and who is contributing less, of the valuable resources the sustain the marital relationship relationship (such together money, time, chores, emotional support, romantic gestures, top quality time, etc.)? What wake up to the family dynamic as soon as one spouse is a net debtor and another a net creditor in the exchange relationship? In The Unbearable lightness of Being, the Czech novelist Milan Kundera defines the method every partnership forges an latent contract about these exchanges in ~ the very first 6 weeks. It is as if a template has been developed that will certainly govern the nature the the conflicts, tensions, and also disagreements between a married pair for the term of your relationship. Kundera is writing fiction, but the dynamic he describes exemplifies a micro-level analysis in that this “contract” is a form created through the interaction between specific individuals. Afterwards, that acts as a framework that constrains your interaction. In the more severe situations of unequal exchange, residential violence, even if it is physical or emotional, can be the result. The dynamics that “intimate terrorism” and also “violent resistance” describe the too much outcomes of unlike exchange.