Sociology of the Family
Sociology of the Family
One of the main institutions that can have the most impact on society is the family. The family by definition “a fundamental social group in society typically consisting of a man and woman and their offspring or two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place” (Mifflin 2000). In order to further elaborate on this institution we most look at the family on how it was before and how much it has changed to this date. One of main changes in the dynamics of families is the social changes in the Women’s movement and the changes from a nuclear family to single parent homes.
Families in the past consisted of a mother and a father most times children and a family pet. Like most societies in the world, the United States included, are patriarchal societies, this means that the males are at the head of the households. This principle was considered the norm and was accepted the natural or biological way of living. The man went out to work, and the wife would stay home and take care of the home and the children. Another ideology that has changed is the idea that people did not get divorced and believed in hard work and family loyalty in maintaining a healthy home. One of the important factors that contributed to the idea that people should not get divorced was the institution and importance of the church in many households. Another belief from the past that has changed and made a dramatic impact on society is the incline in family values. Some principles
of past family values is the idea that a woman had to be married by a certain age, respect for parent or guardians and religious commitment, also repress any sexual desires that are not the norm.
The reason for social change is collective idea to bring upon change. According to Sagarin social change is “marked by unrest generated by dissatisfaction with current modes of living, together with “wishes” and “hopes” for a new way of life” (183). This meant that if social change is a collective idea then it will bring complete change in all social aspects of society. Social movements will also bring disapproval by some parts of society and will always be controversial. An example will be the Women’s movement was not viewed as positive affect by men, being that United States is patriarchal society men had all the power. People in power do not want to give up their power so easily making it more difficult for the ideas of the Women’s movement to go in affect which some issues to this date are not fully resolved. Social change and innovation is desired by all society and eventual. Movements also affect all parts of society and institutions.
Family dynamics have changed with the alterations brought upon by many social movements that have started changing things around the 1960s. The Women’s Social Movement started with wanting to create equal opportunities for men and women. Some of the opportunities that these women were seeking was the ideas of economic independence, importance in politics, and improve their
personal lives (Britannica 2006). Women started to join the work force and a new wave of “dual-earner” families began to change the dynamics of families dramatically (Heywood 2006). Gaining economic independence created many other sociological problems like divorce, family structure disappearing, not enough time being spent in the home or with the children. Today many women have to be a super mom while balancing work and taking care of the family. This creates one parent homes with mothers having to work two or three jobs to allow them to provide for their families.
The “dual earner” families are becoming the most popular types of families after the Women’s Movement. There are three types of “dual earner” family ideologies have emerged. Those three are the Traditional, Modern, and Egalitarian. As the trend of double income family household increases, “the breakdown of the traditional system” because women enter the labor force which caused a deep change when referring to family life and gender roles. The traditional family as recognized by Mintz and Mahalik is described briefly as “marriage based on a form on benevolent male dominance couple with clearly specialized roles that are assigned on the basis of gender” (Mintz and Mahalik, 1996, 806). This is the conception that the woman is meant to stay home while the male main purpose is to work and bring home his gaining. Normally, the wife has less power than her husband in relation to all parts of their marriage. The next kind of family as described by Mintz and Mahalik is called the Egalitarian Family,
which is a “rejection of