Topics: Family, Feminism, Sociology Pages: 7 (1252 words) Published: March 17, 2014


MCYS (Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports):
The family is an important institution. It brings fulfillment to our lives and is our anchor in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment. Families serve as an important pillar of support for the nation. At the individual level, families are the primary source of emotional, social and financial support. At the national level, they contribute to social stability and national cohesiveness as they help develop socially responsible individuals and deepen the bond Singaporeans have with our country.

National Family Council
National Family Week (May)
Recognises role of family & contributions to society
Encourages and supports healthy family life and values
‘Eat with your family day’
‘Jetty Jump’

I. What Is A Family?
A universal social cultural construct
Kinship – blood, marriage, adoption, fictive (group formation) Emotions – love, happiness, sadness (regulating emotions)
Rituals – marriage (joining together), divorce (breaking apart), funeral (separation) Problems with defining the “family”
No such thing as ‘the family’ (single, timeless, homogeneous entity) Family’ as a rhetorical term – does not refer to a concrete phenomenon Families have been structured in many ways, and diversity of familial forms have been increasing

II. Diverse Family Forms
Besides nuclear family, gender revolution has also created diversity of family forms (Brym & Lie p. 456) Step families
Grandparents caring for grandchildren (extended family)
Transnational families (Howard 2011)
Deterritorialized families; astronaut families and parachute children (Ong 1999 Flexible Citizenship) Cohabitation
Couples living together without being married and who may have children together Increases over the decades
Prelude to, substitute for marriage
Lasting and enduring
Cohabitation – Reasons?
Cultural reason – norms and sexual relationships
Adaptation – high divorce rates; challenges facing married couples Long-term alternative to marriage
Cohabitation – Structural consequences?
New definitions of kin networks; inheritance
New legislation (welfare; entitlements)
Same-sex unions and partnerships
Civil union in 12 countries
Questions definition of family as based heterosexual union
Homosexuals want long-term relationship
Denmark – homosexual divorce lower than heterosexual divorce Children from previous heterosexual marriages, adoption, artificial insemination Single-parent families
Murphy Brown single parent controversy
Separation, divorce, death
Class and ethnic differences
Marriage as an upper-middle-class pursuit?
Highest incidence among African-Americans
Racism and unemployment
Racism and imprisonment
Economic independence of African-American women – mancession? CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FAMILY
Family as a social-cultural construct rather than a natural entity Human ability for culture based on abstraction, cooperation, production Family as abstract, cooperative and productive
Family – cooperative and productive
Legal, sexual and economic union
and creation of kin (affinal)
and production of kin (consanguineal)
Reliance on kin for survival
1. Support and protection
2. Rights and duties
Cooperative groupings
Clans, lineages
Eg. Man Lineage of Hong Kong (James Watson 2004)

III. Theorizing Families

Theorizing Families - FUNCTIONALISM
Family performs 5 functions (Murdock 1949):
Regulates sexual activity
Incest taboo
Economic cooperation
Gendered division of labor
Primary Socialization
Care and emotional support
Physically vulnerable human juvenile
Nuclear family as the ideal family form suited to perform these functions (Brym & Lie, p.438) Nuclear family exists as a distinct and strongly functional group in every known society -(Murdock 1949) Nuclear family based on marriage

Socially approved sexual and economic union...
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