Chapter 15 - Chapter 15 Families The traditional nuclear...

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Chapter 15 – Families The traditional nuclear family is less common than it used to be. Several new family forms are becoming more popular. The frequency of one family form or another varies by class, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and culture. One of the most important forces underlying change from the traditional nuclear family is the entry of most women into the paid labor force. Doing paid work increases women’s’ ability to leave unhappy marriages and control whether and when they will have children. Marital satisfaction increases as one moves up the class structure, where divorce laws are liberal, when teenage children leave the home, in families where housework is shared equally, and among spouses who enjoy satisfying sexual relations. The worst effects of divorce on children can be eliminated if there is no parental conflict and the children’s standard of living does not fall after divorce. The decline of the traditional nuclear family is a host of social problems, such as poverty, welfare, dependency, and crime. However, policies have been adopted in some countries that reduce these problems. Introduction Personal Anecdote Is the Family in Decline? Nuclear family: family with a cohabitating man and woman who maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and have at least one child Traditional Nuclear Family: a nuclear family in which the husband works outside the home for money and the wife works for free in the home. Functionalists view the decreasing prevalence of the married-couple family and the rise of the “working mother” as an unmitigated disaster. Conflict and feminist theories disagree with the functionalist assessment. They argue that it is inaccurate to talk about the family, as if this important social institution assumed or should assume only a single form.
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Functionalism and the Nuclear Ideal Since the 1940s, functionalists have argued that the nuclear family is ideally suited to meet these challenges: it provides a basis for regulated sexual activity, economic cooperation, reproduction, socialization, and emotional support. Polygamy: expands the nuclear family “horizontally” by adding one or more spouses (usually women) to the household. Extended family: expands nuclear family “vertically” by adding another generation— one or more of the spouses’ parents—to the household. Moreover, the nuclear family is everywhere based on marriage. Marriage: a socially approved, presumably long-term, sexual and economic union between a man and a woman. It involves reciprocal rights and obligations between spouses and between parents and children. Functions of the Nuclear Family Sexual regulation Economic cooperation Reproduction Socialization Emotional support Foraging Societies The gender division of labor is not associated with large differences in power and authority The American Middle Class in the 1950s Love and companionship became firmly established as the main motivation for marriage. Divorce rate:
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Chapter 15 - Chapter 15 Families The traditional nuclear...

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