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

Learning Objectives

14.1. What Is Marriage? What Is a Family?

Describe society’s current understanding the familyRecognize changes in marriage and also family patternsDifferentiate between lines the decent and also residence

14.2. Sport in family members Life

Recognize sport in family lifeUnderstand the ubiquity of solitary parents, cohabitation, same-sex couples, and unmarried individualsDiscuss the social impact of an altering family structures

14.3. Difficulties Families Face

Understand the social and also interpersonal affect of divorceDescribe the social and interpersonal impact of family abuse

Introduction come Marriage and also Family

Christina and also James met in college and also have been dating for an ext than five years. Because that the past two years, they have been living with each other in a condo castle purchased jointly. When Christina and also James to be confident in their decision to go into into a commitment favor a 20-year mortgage, they room unsure if they want to enter into marriage. The pair had countless discussions about marriage and decided the it just did no seem necessary. Wasn’t it just a piece of paper? and didn’t half of every marriages finish in divorce?

Neither Christina no one James had actually seen lot success with marriage while farming up. Christina was increased by a solitary mother. Her parents never ever married, and also her father has had tiny contact v the family since she was a toddler. Christina and also her mother lived with her maternal grandmother, who regularly served as a surrogate parent. James thrived up in a two-parent household until age seven, when his parents divorced. That lived v his mom for a few years, and also then later on with his mother and her boyfriend till he left because that college. James continued to be close with his father who remarried and had a baby through his new wife.

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Recently, Christina and James have actually been thinking around having children and the topic of marriage has actually resurfaced. Christina likes the idea that her youngsters growing increase in a traditional family, if James is involved about possible marital difficulties down the roadway and negative consequences because that the kids should the occur. Once they shared these comes to with your parents, James’s mommy was adamant that the pair should gain married. Regardless of having been divorced and having a live-in friend of 15 years, she trust that kids are better off once their parents room married. Christina’s mother believes that the pair should do everything they want but adds the it would “be nice” if lock wed. Christina and also James’s friends told them, married or not married, they would still be a family.

Christina and James’s scenario may be complicated, yet it is representative that the resides of countless young couples today, specifically those in urban locations (Useem 2007). Statistics Canada (2012) reports that the variety of unmarried, common-law couples thrived by 35 percent between 2001 and 2011 to make up a complete of 16.7 percent of all family members in Canada. Cohabitating, however unwed, couples account because that 16.7 percent the all households in Canada. Some might never select to wed (Jayson 2008). With fewer couples marrying, the timeless Canadian family members structure is coming to be less common. Nevertheless, although the percent of classic married couples has decreased as a ratio of every families, at 67 percent of all families, it is tho by much the predominant family members structure.

14.1. What Is Marriage? What Is a Family?

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Figure 14.2. The modern concept of family is far an ext encompassing than in past decades. What execute you think constitutes a family? (Photo (a) courtesy Gareth Williams/flickr; photo (b) courtesy Guillaume Paumier/ Wikimedia Commons)

Marriage and family are key structures in most societies. While the 2 institutions have historically been closely linked in Canadian culture, their connection is becoming an ext complex. The relationship in between marriage and also family is an interesting topic of research to sociologists.

What is marriage? Different civilization define that in various ways. Not also sociologists space able come agree on a single meaning. Because that our purposes, we will define marriage together a legally known social contract between two people, traditionally based on a sex-related relationship and also implying a permanence the the union. In producing an inclusive definition, we should likewise consider variations, such as whether a legit union is required (think that “common- law” marriage and its equivalents), or whether an ext than two people can be involved (consider polygamy). Other variations on the meaning of marriage could include even if it is spouses are of the opposite sexes or the very same sex, and how one of the traditional expectations of marriage (to create children) is construed today.

Sociologists room interested in the relationship between the school of marriage and the school of family members because, historically, marital relationships are what produce a family, and also families space the most basic social unit top top which culture is built. Both marriage and also family create status duties that space sanctioned by society.

So what is a family? A husband, a wife, and two children—maybe also a pet—served together the model for the classic Canadian household for many of the 20th century. Yet what around families that deviate native this model, such as a single-parent household or a homosexual pair without children? should they be thought about families as well?

The question of what constitutes a family is a element area of conflict in household sociology, and also in politics and religion. Society conservatives have tendency to define the family in terms of framework with each family members member filling a certain role (like father, mother, or child). Sociologists, top top the various other hand, often tend to specify family much more in terms of the manner in i m sorry members relate come one one more than ~ above a strictly configuration of condition roles. Here, we will define family together a socially recognized group (usually join by blood, marriage, or adoption) that forms an emotional connection and also serves as an financial unit of society. Sociologists determine different species of families based on how one enters into them. A family of orientation describes the household into which a human being is born. A family that procreation describes one the is developed through marriage. This distinctions have cultural significance related to issues of lineage.

Drawing top top the three sociological paradigms we have been studying in this advent to sociology, the sociological knowledge of what constitutes a family can be defined by symbolic interactionism, vital sociology, and also functionalism. Symbolic interactionist theories indicate that households are groups in which participants see themselves as household members and act accordingly. In various other words, households are teams in which civilization come together to form a strong primary team connection, maintaining emotional ties come one an additional over a long period of time. Together families can potentially encompass groups of close friends as family. Vital sociology emphasizes that the develops that define the “typical” family unit space not independent of historical changes in the economic structures and relations of strength in society. The common large, extended family the the rural, agriculture-based economic situation 100 years back in Canada was much various from the single breadwinner-led “nuclear” household of the Fordist economic climate following human being War II and different again native today’s households who need to respond come economic problems of precarious employment, liquid modernity, and norms of gender and sexual equality.

In addition, the functionalist view views families as teams that perform an important roles for society—both inside (for the family members itself) and externally (for society as a whole). Families administer for one another’s physical, emotional, and also social well-being. Parents care for and also socialize children, a role that prepares new members of society for your future roles. While interactionism helps us to know the subjective experience of belonging to a “family” and an important sociology focuses on how family members configure themselves in solution to political-economic pressures and also changes, functionalism illuminates the numerous purposes of families and also their duty in the maintain of a balanced culture (Parsons and Bales 1956). We will go into much more detail around how this theories apply to family in later sections.

Challenges family members Face

North Americans space somewhat split when it pertains to determining what does and also what does no constitute a family. In a 2010 survey carried out by Ipsos Reid, participants were asked what they thought constituted a family members unit. Eighty percent of respondents agreed the a husband, wife, and children constitute a family. Sixty-six percent declared that a common-law couple with youngsters still constitutes a family. The numbers drop because that less timeless structures: a single mother and children (55 percent), a solitary father and also children (54 percent), grandparents raising kids (50 percent), common-law or married couples without youngsters (46 percent), gay male couples with children (45 percent) (Postmedia News 2010). This inspection revealed that youngsters tend to be the an essential indicator in establishing “family” status: the percentage of individuals who agreed the unmarried couples constitute a family almost doubled when youngsters were added.

Another study also revealed that 60 percent of north Americans agreed that if you take into consideration yourself a family, you room a family members (a ide that reinforces an interactionist perspective) (Powell et al. 2010). Canadian statistics are based upon the more inclusive definition of “census families.” Statistics Canada specifies a census household as “composed of a married or common-law couple, v or without children, or of a lone parental living v at the very least one son in the same dwelling. Couples can be of opposing sex or of the exact same sex” (Statistics Canada 2012). Census categories aside, sociologists would argue the the general ide of household is more diverse and also less structured than in years past. Society has given much more leeway to the architecture of a family members making room because that what functions for that members (Jayson 2010).

Family is, indeed, a subjective concept, yet it is a reasonably objective truth that family (whatever one’s ide of it may be) is really important to phibìc Americans. In a 2010 inspection by Pew Research facility in Washington, D.C., 76 percent of adults surveyed stated that family members is “the many important” aspect of your life—just 1 percent said it to be “not important” (Pew Research facility 2010). It is also very important to society. American president Ronald Reagan significantly stated, “The family members has constantly been the cornerstone the American society. Our family members nurture, preserve, and also pass on to each being successful generation the worths we share and cherish, worths that space the structure of our freedoms” (Lee 2009). The dark side of this prominence can also be viewed in Reagan’s effective use the “family values” rhetoric to assault welfare mothers. His infamous “welfare queen” story about a black solitary mother in Chicago, who supposedly defrauded the government of $150,000 in welfare payments, to be a complete fabrication that nevertheless “worked” politically because of society anxieties about the decrease of the family. When the architecture of the family members may have changed in recent years, the fundamentals of emotional closeness and also support are still present. Many responders come the Pew survey proclaimed that their family today is at least as near (45 percent) or closer (40 percent) 보다 the family with i beg your pardon they grew up (Pew Research facility 2010).

Alongside the dispute surrounding what constitutes a family members is the concern of what phibìc Americans think constitutes a marriage. Many religious and social conservatives believe that marriage have the right to only exist in between man and also a woman, citing spiritual scripture and also the basics of human reproduction together support. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper put it, “I have no an obstacle with the recognition of civil unions for nontraditional relationships yet I believe in legislation we should safeguard the traditional definition of marriage” (Globe and also Mail 2010). Social liberals and progressives, on the various other hand, think that marriage deserve to exist between two consenting adults—be lock a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and also a man —and the it would certainly be discrimination to deny such a pair the civil, social, and economic services of marriage.

Marriage Patterns

With single parenting and cohabitation (when a couple shares a residence however not a marriage) becoming much more acceptable in current years, human being may it is in less urged to obtain married. In a current survey, 39 percent of respondents answered “yes” once asked whether marital relationship is ending up being obsolete (Pew Research center 2010). The institution of marriage is likely to continue, but some previous patterns of marriage will end up being outdated as new patterns emerge. In this context, cohabitation contributes to the phenomenon of people getting married because that the first time in ~ a later period than was typical in earlier generations (Glezer 1991). Furthermore, marriage will continue to be delayed as more people place education and career ahead of “settling down.”

One partner or Many?

North Americans frequently equate marital relationship with monogamy, once someone is married to only one human being at a time. In numerous countries and also cultures around the world, however, having actually one spouse is no the only form of marriage. In a majority of societies (78 percent), polygamy, or gift married to much more than one person at a time, is accepted (Murdock 1967), with many polygamous cultures existing in north Africa and also east Asia (Altman and also Ginat 1996). Instances that polygamy are almost exclusively in the type of polygyny. Polygyny refers to a man being married to more than one woman at the exact same time. The reverse, when a woman is married to an ext than one guy at the exact same time, is referred to as polyandry. That is far less common and also only wake up in around 1 percent that the world’s cultures (Altman and Ginat 1996). The reasons for the overwhelming prevalence of polygamous cultures are varied however they frequently include issues of populace growth, religious ideologies, and also social status.

While the bulk of cultures accept polygyny, the bulk of world do not practise it. Frequently fewer 보다 10 percent (and no an ext than 25 to 35 percent) of males in polygamous societies have more than one wife; this husbands are frequently older, wealthy, high-status men (Altman and Ginat 1996). The median plural marriage requires no much more than 3 wives. Negev Bedouin guys in Israel, because that example, typically have 2 wives, although the is acceptable to have up to 4 (Griver 2008). As urbanization boosts in this cultures, polygamy is likely to decrease as a result of greater access to fixed media, technology, and education (Altman and also Ginat 1996).

In Canada, polygamy is taken into consideration by most to be socially unacceptable and also it is illegal. The act of entering right into marriage while tho married to one more person is described as bigamy and is prohibited by section 290 of the Criminal password of Canada (Minister of justice 2014). Polygamy in Canada is often linked with those the the Mormon faith, although in 1890 the Mormon Church officially renounced polygamy. Fundamentalist Mormons, such together those in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints (FLDS), ~ above the various other hand, still hold tightly to the historical Mormon beliefs and also practices and permit polygamy in your sect.

The pervasiveness of polygamy amongst Mormons is often overestimated as result of sensational media stories such as the beginning of polygamous sect leader in Bountiful, B.C., theYearning because that Zion ranch raid in Texas in 2008, and also popular television mirrors such as HBO’s Big Love and TLC’s Sister Wives. That is approximated that there are about 37,500 fundamentalist Mormons associated in polygamy in the united States, Canada, and Mexico, but that number has presented a steady decrease in the last 100 years (Useem 2007).

North American Muslims, however, room an arising group v an approximated 20,000 practicing polygamy. Again, polygamy among North American Muslims is uncommon and also occurs just in about 1 percent that the population (Useem 2007). For now polygamy among North American Muslims has actually gone relatively unnoticed by mainstream society, however like fundamentalist Mormons whose methods were turn off the public’s radar because that decades, they may someday find themselves in ~ the center of social debate.

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Figure 14.3. Polygamy has a Judeo-Christian tradition, together exemplified through King Solomon, that was assumed to have had much more than 700 wives. (Photo courtesy of publicly domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Residency and also Lines the Descent

When considering their lineage, most Canadians look to both your father’s and also mother’s sides. Both paternal and also maternal ancestors room considered component of one’s family. This sample of tracing kinship is referred to as bilateral descent. Keep in mind that kinship, or one’s traceable ancestry, deserve to be based upon blood, marriage or adoption. Sixty percent that societies, greatly modernized nations, monitor a bilateral lower pattern. Unilateral descent (the tracing the kinship v one parental only) is practised in the various other 40 percent that the world societies, v high concentration in pastoral cultures (O’Neal 2006).

There space three species of unilateral descent: patrilineal, which complies with the father’s line only; matrilineal, which adheres to the mother’s next only; and also ambilineal, which follows either the father’s just or the mother’s side only, depending on the situation. In partrilineal societies, such as those in countryside China and also India, just males bring on the family members surname. This offers males the prestige of permanent family membership when females room seen as just temporary members (Harrell 2001). Phibìc American society assumes some facets of partrilineal decent. For instance, most youngsters assume their father’s last name also if the mother retains she birth name.

In matrilineal societies, inheritance and also family ties are traced come women. Matrilineal descent is common in aboriginal American societies, especially the Crow and also Cherokee tribes. In this societies, kids are viewed as belonging come the women and, therefore, one’s kinship is traced come one’s mother, grandmother, good grandmother, and so top top (Mails 1996). In ambilineal societies, which are most usual in Southeast eastern countries, parents may choose to combine their kids with the kinship of one of two people the mom or the father. This choice may be based upon the desire to follow stronger or more prestigious kinship currently or on cultural customs such together men following their father’s side and also women adhering to their mother’s side (Lambert 2009).

Tracing one’s line of lower to one parent quite than the other have the right to be appropriate to the worry of residence. In many cultures, freshly married couples move in with, or close to to, family members members. In a patrilocal residence system it is customary because that the mam to live v (or near) she husband’s blood loved ones (or family members or orientation). Patrilocal systems can be traced ago thousands of years. In a DNA evaluation of 4,600-year-old bones uncovered in Germany, scientists found indicators the patrilocal life arrangements (Haak et al. 2008). Patrilocal residence is assumed to be disadvantageous come women due to the fact that it provides them outsiders in the home and community; it also keeps castle disconnected native their very own blood relatives. In China, wherein patrilocal and also patrilineal customizeds are common, the written icons for maternal grandm (wáipá) are separately translated to average “outsider” and “women” (Cohen 2011).

Similarly, in matrilocal residence systems, whereby it is customary because that the husband to live with his wife’s blood relatives (or her family of orientation), the husband have the right to feel disconnected and also can it is in labelled together an outsider. The Minangkabau people, a matrilocal culture that is indigenous to the highlands the West Sumatra in Indonesia, believe that home is the location of women and they provide men little power in worries relating to the house or family members (Joseph and Najmabadi 2003). Many societies that use patrilocal and patrilineal systems room patriarchal, but very few societies that use matrilocal and also matrilineal systems space matriarchal, as household life is often considered vital part of the society for women, regardless of their power family member to men.

Stages of family Life

As we have established, the ide of household has readjusted greatly in recent decades. Historically, that was frequently thought that most (certainly many) families advanced through a collection of predictable stages. Developmental or “stage” theories offered to play a prominent function in household sociology (Strong and also DeVault 1992). Today, however, these models have actually been criticized for their linear and conventional assumptions as well as for their failure to capture the diversity of household forms. When reviewing some of these once-popular theories, it is crucial to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

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The collection of predictable steps and also patterns families experience with time is referred to as the family life cycle. One of the an initial designs of the household life cycle was arisen by Paul Glick in 1955. In Glick’s original design, he asserted the most human being will thrive up, establish families, rear and launch their children, suffer an “empty nest” period, and also come come the end of your lives. This cycle will certainly then proceed with each succeeding generation (Glick 1989). Glick’s colleague, Evelyn Duvall, elaborated top top the family members life cycle by developing these standard stages of family members (Strong and DeVault 1992):

Table 14.1. Stage Theory. This table mirrors one instance of just how a “stage” theory could categorize the phases a family members goes through.