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What do Talcott Parsons and Robert Bales argue ensures stability in a family?

division of labour in family ensures its stability:Men are ‘breadwinners,’ ‘decision makers,’ sources of authority & leadership; women play roles of ‘homemaker,’ ‘nurturer.’ Ensures no conflicts over roles.


What does stability ensure in a family?

This ensures that family meets basic functions of regulating sex (to minimise social conflicts), ensuring material protection for children, and educating infants in ways of society.


How do Immerman and Mackey argue that monogamy is natural?

monogamy is ‘natural’ because it ensures social stability and reduces spread of STDs�


What functions do St Fu identify in the family?

Reproduction: families promote replacement of dying members of society with new children.Protection: families ensure children are nurtured before old enough to care for themselves.Socialisation: parents teach children models of behaviour.Regulation of sexual behaviour: ensures that established sexual norms are protected; may reduce conflicts.Affection & companionship: provides support for individuals.Provision of social status: gives individuals a preliminary social position, reducing conflicts for status.


Traditional Family vs Modern Family

Traditional families often contain large kinship groups: many generations in house.Strongly patriarchal structures.Tightly-knit family bondsModern families smaller, more flexible, and less tightly-bound, to adapt to needs of industrial economy. Less authoritarian.


What contributed to the rise of the modern family?

Industrialisation & urbanisation promote labour mobility.Female independence grows with entry to job market.Increased use of contraception.


How is the St Fu view of the family criticized? What does it fail to account for?

Structural Functionalist models now widely criticised for failure to account for rapid changes in models of family.Further, fails to account for variety of family types seen in societies around the world, each of which has been successful in its own way.



Any group of relations defined by recognised social bonds (e.g. parent, uncle), defined by role it fills.


Nuclear Family

Nuclear FamilyParents & children in same house.Max three relationships – spouses, parent-child, sibling


Extended Family

Multiple generations living together.Multiple relationship types between spouses, siblings, uncles/aunts etc�


How do sociologists classify families?

Sociologists classify families by the types of relationships within them: what relatives or kin are usually part of the basic family unit, what sort of obligations do we have to them etc�


Census Family

Statistics Canada’s term for any cohabiting group, including married or unmarried couples of same or different genders, and children or grandchildren by birth, marriage, or adoption


What lead to the emergence of new forms of families in Canada?

Changes in both social attitudes and economic situation lead to emergence of many new forms of families.


What types of families have grown over the past few decades?

Single-parent families now account for c. 16% of families; unmarried cohabiting couples with children are 6.9%; unmarried cohabiting couples without children are 8.5%


Kinship System

Connections with all our relatives, e.g. grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, members of same tribe.Often governed by strict rules, taboos, and sets of obligations.


Westermarck Effect

Children brought up together usually desensitised to mutual sexual attraction.Incest taboo ingrained by shared childhood:


What minimum in a society forces families to interact with each other?

Incest Taboomembers of family unit must find mates in other families�


What did Westermarck specifically notice about children brought up together?

noticed that children brought up together, even if not related by blood, would not find each other sexually attractive.


What are men making priorities nowadays in potentila partners?

In 1939, traits such as chastity, desire for home & children, good cook, and neatness figured prominently on men’s desired traits in potential partner. Woman’s own ambitions or education considered unimportant�In 2008 survey:Mutual attraction/love had risen from 4th to 1stEducation/intelligence rose from 11th to 4th.But Good looks rose from 14th to 8th!�


Arranged Marriage

Partners selected by parents or other family members. Protects established social order.


What did Durkheim notice among the unmarried?

Durkheim noted high suicide rates amongst unmarried, attributed to lack of social contact.


What are arranged marriages used for?

often used to cement family alliances, or for economic reasons. �


why does society as a whole recognise marriage? Why is this private relationship something of public concern?

It helps stabilise social bonds.


Exogamy rules

Exogamy rules specify who you cannot marry: requires mates to be chosen outside a given group


Endogamy rules specify who you must marry: requires you to pick mates within a group.

Endogamy rules specify who you must marry: requires you to pick mates within a group.


Trobriand Island courtships

Sex usually free and open, but if a girl stays over with a boy instead of leaving after sex, they marry for a year.During annual Yam Festival, gangs of girls wander the island, and pounce on boys from other villages wandering alone. The gang demands sexual satisfaction from the boy�



Practice of allowing only a single spouse.Serial monogamy = multiple spouses, but not at same time.



Multiple spouses permitted at same time, in same house.


Polygyny, Polyandry

Polygyny: One man, many wives�Ployandry: One wife, many husbands


What do societies show about rules on who you can marry and how many people?Examples?

Societies show great variation in rules on who you can marry, and how many people.Tibetan Nyinba women may marry many brothers at once.George Murdock found 80% of societies preferred polygamy in some form.Patterns vary over time and place�.