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OLEMISS / Sociology / SOC 303 / what are the three functions of today’s families?

what are the three functions of today’s families?

what are the three functions of today’s families?


Exam Date: 2/13

what are the three functions of today’s families?

Unit 1 (chapters 1-4)

Chapter 1 

● Definition of the family by the authors:

○ Any sexually expressive, parent-child, or other kin relationship in which people - usually related by ancestry, marriage, or adoption 1. Form an

economic or otherwise practice unit and care for any children or

dependents 2. Consider their identity to be significantly attached to the

group 3. Commit to maintaining that group over time

● Functional definitions focus on the purpose for which something exists - what it does

● Structural definitions emphasizes the form that a thing takes - what it actually is ● 3 functions of today’s families:

○ Raising Children Responsibly - feed, clothe, shelter during dependency. Train them in economics and culture so that they can become dependable members of the groups. Also, regulate sexual activity.

what is U.S Census definition of family?

○ Providing economic and other practical support: earning living outside of the home, pooling resources, and making consumption decisions

together. Forms material security. Other ways include; nursing,

transportation and lending an ear

○ Offering emotional security: family members are a source of emotional “warmth”

● U.S Census definition of family: 2 + people related by blood, marriage, or adoption residing in a household together.

● Household vs Family: A household is “any group of people residing together.” not all households are families

● 2 main family structures:

○ Nuclear: in industrial or modern society this is the typical family

structure. Which is the husband, wife, and any children residing in the Don't forget about the age old question of the federalists believed that the most apparent source of tyranny was the
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○ Extended: children, parents, grandparents and any other relatives residing in the home

what is the two main family structures?

● Postmodern Family: families today exhibit a multiplicity of forms and that new or altered family forms continue to emerge and develop

● *The definition of family is important in terms of business, law, and government because of things like insurance, employee-benefits, and rent policies. Decisions about these three things need to be made keeping in mind what relationships or

groups of people are thought to be a family. Another example is same sex marriage. The definition of marriage had to be clearly defined bc before 2015 same sex marriage used to be illegal. Therefore the definition of marriage had to be clearly stated as two opposite sexes.

● Social Institutions: patterned and largely predictable ways of thinking and behaving- beliefs, values, attitudes, and norms that are organized around vital aspects of group life and serve essential social functions

● Family decline perspective: claims that a cultural change toward excessive individualism and self-indulgence has hurt relationships, led to high divorce rates, and undermines responsible parenting

● Family Change Perspective: points out that some family changes are for the better and need to be seen as historically expected adjustments to changing conditions in the wider society. We also discuss several other topics like pols 207

● Social scientists view family as an adaptable institution therefore they should be supported as they exist today not as they existed in the past and not recreate the “idealized” past.

● Sociological imagination: the ability to see things socially and how they interact and influence each other. Don't forget about the age old question of in the popular music world, the viola has enjoyed some notoriety.

● Five Social factors that affect families: 

○ Ever-new biological and communication technologies 

■ Development of technology alters family relationships and our definition of families. 

● Biological technologies: birth control, alternative methods 

of getting pregnant (IVF, embryo transfers, donor or 

artificial insemination) 

● Communication technologies: being able to record home 

movies, text, skype, email, use facebook, and GPS all alter 

how families interact 

○ Economic conditions 

■ Economy has important consequences for family relationships ● Lower wages, longer hours, loss of benefits 

● Poverty vs wealth 

● Affects Life Chances: the opportunities one has for 

education and work and whether or not one can afford to 

pay for family healthcare, to marry, or the schools children 

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○ Historical periods or events 

■ The shift from agricultural to industrial economy changed family composition as well as attitudes and behaviors

■ Increasing independence of women created marriage rates to drop 

and divorce rates to increase 

○ Demographic characteristics (age, race, religion etc) 

■ Longer life expectancies means longer marriages, longer period of 

time of interaction between child and parent 

○ Family policy 

■ All the procedures, regulations, attitudes, and goals of programs 

and agencies, workplace, educational institutions, and gov that 

affect families. 

● Ex: adoption, childcare, partner relationships, child 

custody, family violence 

● *we should view these policies through a family impact 

lens because these decisions heavily impact the 

relationships of the family and the well-being of individuals 

within the family 

● Deciding vs Sliding: being informed and making a conscious decision vs not making a conscious decision 

● Family identity: ideas and feelings about the uniqueness and value of one's family unit -- energy via traditions and rituals Don't forget about the age old question of concuh

● Self concept: basic feelings people have about themselves, their abilities, characteristics, and worth. The family creates the setting for which self-concept develops 

● Familistic values: focus on the family as a whole, they emphasize the goals needs and identity of the group 

● Individualistic values: encourage people to think in terms of personal happiness and goals and the development of a distinct individual identity 

Chapter 2 

● Personal experience can create blinders to what is normal or typical. We tend to assume that our own family dynamics are the norm even though all families and family practices differ

● Theoretical perspectives: ways of viewing reality. They help family researchers to identify those aspects of families and relationships that interest them and suggests possible explanations for why patterns and behaviors are the way they are

● Family ecology: the ecological context of the family affects family life and children's outcomes. Natural physical-biological environment, social-cultural environment ● Structure-functional perspective: investigates how a given social structure functions to fill basic societal needs

● Exchange theory: applies an economic perspective to social relationships; when individuals are engaged in social exchanged they prefer to limit their costs and maximize their rewards

● Family systems theory: views the family as a whole, or system, comprising interrelated parts and demarcated boundaries

● Conflict perspective: not all family behavior is for the well being of the group. ○ Calls attention to (unequal) power

○ Focuses on issues like male dominance

● 5 data collection techniques

○ Interviews, questionnaires, and surveys

○ Naturalistic observations

○ Focus groups

○ Experiments and laboratory observation

○ Clinicians case study

Chapter 3 

● Sex: used in reference to male or femal anatomy and physiology

● Gender identity: refers to the degree to which we see ourselves as feminine, masculine, transsexual or having no gender at all

● Intersex: having been born with ambigous genital anatomy

● Transgender: may be straight, lesbian/gay/bisexual, or describe their sexuality in some other way (usually transitions to opposite gender).

● Society complications: soceity expects females to develop a femine gender role and males a masculine one, however some people do not feel at ease with their sex ascribed at birth

● Not everyone goes through sex-reassignment surgery they typically just change their gender identity

● Instrumental character traits: strength, confidence, self-reliance, assertiveness, and ambition

● Expressive character traits: warmth, sensitivity, the ability to express tender feelings and placing concern about others welfare above self interest

● Masculinities:

○ Varied ways to demonstrate masculinity

■ Group leadership

■ Protecting group territory and weaker or dependent others

■ Providing resources typically by means of occupational success

○ “New man” was financially successful, emotionally sensitive, valuing tenderness and equal relationships with women

● Femininities:

○ Offering emotional support, physically attractive, not too competitive, a good listener, adaptable, and a helpmate to men

● Bifurcated consciousness: a divided perception according to which she is aware of and often troubles by two conflicting messages

○ Caregiving is most important

○ Caregiving is not as high values across society as is career success

● To what extent do individuals follow cultural expectations:

○ Men and women are more alike than they are different, with some exceptions ● Intersectionality: structural connections among race, class, and gender ● Costs of “traditional” gender expectations:

○ Higher death rates

○ Thwart career opportunities

○ Deplete men’s confidence in nontraditional family roles

○ Both gender’s ability to communicate supportively with one another is damaged ● Gender Structure: shapes roles that individuals are expected to follow ● Socialization: the process by which society influences members to internalize attitude and expectations

● Education:

○ More female than males in college

○ Same major paths

○ More male dropouts

Chapter 4 

● Sexual exploration starts at birth

● Earlier sexual maturity is associated with earlier onset of romantic

involvement, sexual intercourse, depression and anxiety, behavior

problems, smoking and alcohol use, accelerate entrance in cohabitation

and marriage

● Earlier sexual maturity is due to nutrition, physical activity, and pollution ● Sexual identity: refers to whether one is attracted to one's own gender or the opposite gender

○ Gender identity does not predict sexual identity and vice versa

○ The general public greatly overestimates the percentage of


○ Development of sexual identity and what causes someone to be attracted to a specific gender is unknown

● Asexuality: no sexual attraction to others, want intimate relations just not sexual relations

● Interpersonal exchange: satisfaction depends on costs and rewards of a sexual relationship

● Interactionist perspective: emphasizes the interpersonal negotiation of relationships in the context of sexual scripts

● Patriarchal sexuality: characterized by many beliefs, values, attitude, and behaviors developed to protect the male line of descent (still persists today to a certain extent)

● Expressive sexuality: sexuality is seen as basic to the humanness of both women and men; there is no one-sided sense of ownership

● Four standards for sex outside of committed relationships ○ Abstinence: refraining from sex

○ Sex with affection: having sex within a committed relationship, exclusively with one person, or one that we care about

○ Sex without affect/ recreational sex: sexual encounters mean nothing more than just sex. (friends with benefits, hooking up). ○ Double standard: women’s sexual behavior must be more conservative than men

● Effect of age on sexuality: as age increases, sexual drive decreases ● Porn:

○ More prevalent today

○ Avg internet porn user= middle aged man of median income ○ Among men and women, men are more likely to view porn ○ *may contribute to a heteroxeual couple’s gender inequality and the objectification of the female partner

● Adolescent sexuality:

○ Teen sexual intercourse rates have declined since the 90’s ○ Sex education is contributed to the decline


○ The gay population (male-male relationships) are more likely to obtain AIDS/ HIV

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