Lecture _13.doc - SOC 101 - Principles of Sociology Lecture...

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SOC 101 - Principles of Sociology Lecture Notes #13 The Family 1) Introduction . No single definition of family exists because there are many types of family structures within a given society or across different societies. A broad definition of family involves two or more people who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption and share a common or single household. The family is the basic unit or institution of every society. It is considered to be the foundation for society. Within the American society, the idea of family varies across class, ethnic and racial lines. In the U.S., family often means (white) middle class, intact or nuclear family of two parents and 2.5 children. According to the 200 U.S. census report, 23.5% or about 24% of households or families are nuclear or intact, while nearly 77% are other forms of family structure (to be considered later). A 1996 survey (reported in The New York Times) indicated that 50% of U.S. adults see the nuclear family as the ideal or optimal family structure that they aspire to. This is, of course, contrary to the reality as revealed in the 2000 census. The family helps to link the individual to the community or society. It also guarantees or ensures the continuation of the human species through both reproduction and socialization. 2) Theoretical Perspectives of the Family. In this course, I consider only two major theoretical perspectives of family and marriage: a) The Functionalist Perspective , and b) The Conflict Perspective. 1
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The Functionalist Perspective of the family emphasizes how the family is related to other parts of society and its contribution to the well-being of society as a whole. Functionalists stress the following functions performed by the family: a) Regulation of sexual behavior . Through the use of incest taboo and spousal selection, the family determines who marries whom and under what conditions or circumstances. b) Replacement of members which is done through reproduction--that is, the bringing into being of new people. This is probably the single most important function of families/marriages. This ensures that people who die are replaced to prevent the disappearance of society. (Note: Homosexual or same-sex marriages/families threaten the very existence of society or humanity. Hence, mainstream anti-homosexual attitudes, though expressed in moral or religious or political terms, are concerned with the potential demise of society/humanity. There is on-going controversy regarding same-sex marriage.
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This note was uploaded on 02/23/2012 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Prof. during the Spring '11 term at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Lecture _13.doc - SOC 101 - Principles of Sociology Lecture...

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