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Christina and James met in college and have been dating for more than five years. For the past two years, they have been living together in a condo they purchased tly. While Christina and James were confident in their decision to enter into a commitment like a year mortgage, they are unsure if they want to enter into marriage. The couple had many discussions about marriage and decided that it just did not seem necessary.
Neither Christina nor James had seen much success with marriage while growing up. Christina was raised by a single mother. Her parents never married, and her father has had little contact with the family since she was a toddler. Christina and her mother lived with her maternal grandmother, who often served as a surrogate parent. James grew up in a two-parent household until age seven, when his parents divorced. He lived with his mother for a few years, and then later with his mother and her boyfriend until he left for college.
James remained close with his father who remarried and had a baby with his new wife. Recently, Christina and James have been thinking about having children and the subject of marriage has resurfaced. Christina likes the idea of her children growing up in a traditional family, while James is concerned about possible marital problems down the road and negative consequences for the children should that occur.
Despite having been divorced and having a live-in boyfriend of 15 years, she believes that children are better off when their parents are married. Statistics Canada reports that the of unmarried, common-law couples grew by 35 percent between and to make up a total of Cohabitating, but unwed, couples for Some may never choose to wed Jayson With fewer couples marrying, the traditional Canadian family structure is becoming less common.
Nevertheless, although the percentage of traditional married couples has declined as a proportion of all families, at 67 percent of all families, it is still by far the predominant family structure. Marriage and family are key structures in most societies. While the two institutions have historically been closely linked in Canadian culture, their connection is becoming more complex.
The relationship between marriage and family is an interesting topic of study to sociologists. What is marriage? Different people define it in different ways. Not even sociologists are able to agree on a single meaning. For our purposes, we will define marriage as a legally recognized social contract between two people, traditionally based on a sexual relationship and implying African adult married buddy or w permanence of the union. Other variations on the definition of marriage might include whether spouses are of opposite sexes or the same sex, and how one of the traditional expectations of marriage to produce children is understood today.
Sociologists are interested in the relationship between the institution of marriage and the institution of family because, historically, marriages are what create a family, and families are the most basic social unit upon which society is built. Both marriage and family create status roles that are sanctioned by society.
So what is a family? A husband, a wife, and two children—maybe even a pet—served as the model for the traditional Canadian family for most of the 20th century. But what about families that deviate from this model, such as a single-parent household or a homosexual couple without children?
Should they be considered families as well? The question of what constitutes a family is a prime area of debate in family sociology, as well as in politics and religion. Social conservatives tend to define the family in terms of structure with each family member filling a certain role like father, mother, or. Sociologists, on the other hand, tend to define family more in terms of the manner in which members relate to one another than on a strict configuration of status roles.
Here, we will define family as a socially recognized group usually ed by blood, marriage, or adoption that forms an emotional connection and serves as an economic unit of society. Sociologists identify different types of families based on how one enters into them. A family of orientation refers to the family into which a person is born. A family of procreation describes one that is formed through marriage. These distinctions have cultural ificance related to issues of lineage. Drawing on the three sociological paradigms we have been studying in this introduction to sociology, the sociological understanding of what constitutes a family can be explained by symbolic interactionism, critical sociology, and functionalism.
Symbolic interactionist theories indicate that families are groups in which participants view themselves as family members and act accordingly.
In other words, families are groups in which people come together to form a strong primary group connection, maintaining emotional ties to one another over a long period of time. Such families could potentially include groups of close friends as family.
In addition, the functionalist perspective views families as groups that perform vital roles for society—both internally for the family itself and externally for society as a whole. Parents care for and socialize children, a function that prepares new members of society for their future roles. We will go into more detail about how these theories apply to family in later sections. North Americans are somewhat divided when it comes to determining what does and what does not constitute a family.
In a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid, participants were asked what they believed constituted a family unit. Eighty percent of respondents agreed that a husband, wife, and children constitute a family. Sixty-six percent stated that a common-law couple with children still constitutes a family. The s drop for less traditional structures: a single mother and children 55 percenta single father and children 54 percentgrandparents raising children 50 percentcommon-law or married couples without children 46 percentgay male couples with children 45 percent Postmedia News Another study also revealed that 60 percent of North Americans agreed that if you consider yourself a family, you are a family a concept that reinforces an interactionist perspective Powell et al.
Census aside, sociologists would argue that the general concept of family is more diverse and less structured than in years past. Society has given more leeway to the de of a family making room for what works for its members Jayson It is also very important to society.
While the de of the family may have changed in recent years, the fundamentals of emotional closeness and support are still present. Most responders to the Pew survey stated that their family today is at least as close 45 percent or closer 40 percent than the family with which they grew up Pew Research Center Alongside the debate surrounding what constitutes a family is the question of what North Americans believe constitutes a marriage.
Many religious and social conservatives believe that marriage can only exist between man and a woman, citing religious scripture and the basics of human reproduction as support. Social liberals and African adult married buddy or w, on the other hand, believe that marriage can exist between two consenting adults—be they a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man —and that it would be discriminatory to deny such a couple the civil, social, and economic benefits of marriage.
With single parenting and cohabitation when a couple shares a residence but not a marriage becoming more acceptable in recent years, people may be less motivated to get married. The institution of marriage is likely to continue, but some patterns of marriage will become outdated as new patterns emerge.
In this context, cohabitation contributes to the phenomenon of people getting married for the first time at a later age than was typical in earlier generations Glezer North Americans typically equate marriage with monogamywhen someone is married to only one person at a time.
In many countries and cultures around the world, however, having one spouse is not the only form of marriage. In a majority of cultures 78 percentpolygamyor being married to more than one person at a time, is accepted Murdockwith most polygamous societies existing in northern Africa and east Asia Altman African adult married buddy or w Ginat Instances of polygamy are almost exclusively in the form of polygyny.
Polygyny refers to a man being married to more than one woman at the same time. The reverse, when a woman is married to more than one man at the same time, is called polyandry. The reasons for the overwhelming prevalence of polygamous societies are varied but they often include issues of population growth, religious ideologies, and social status. While the majority of societies accept polygyny, the majority of people do not practise it.
Often fewer than 10 percent and no more than 25 to 35 percent of men in polygamous cultures have more than one wife; these husbands are often older, wealthy, high-status men Altman and Ginat The average plural marriage involves no more than three wives.
Negev Bedouin men in Israel, for example, typically have two wives, although it is acceptable to have up to four Griver As urbanization increases in these cultures, polygamy is likely to decrease as a result of greater access to mass media, technology, and education Altman and Ginat In Canada, polygamy is considered by most to be socially unacceptable and it is illegal. The act of entering into marriage while still married to another person is referred to as bigamy and is prohibited by Section of the Criminal Code of Canada Minister of Justice Polygamy in Canada is often associated with those of the Mormon faith, although in the Mormon Church officially renounced polygamy.
The prevalence of polygamy among Mormons is often overestimated due to sensational media stories such as the prosecution of polygamous sect leaders in Bountiful, B. It is estimated that there are about 37, fundamentalist Mormons involved in polygamy in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, but that has shown a steady decrease in the last years Useem North American Muslims, however, are an emerging group with an estimated 20, practicing polygamy. Again, polygamy among North American Muslims is uncommon and occurs only in approximately 1 percent of the population Useem This pattern of tracing kinship is called bilateral descent.
Sixty percent of societies, mostly modernized nations, follow a bilateral descent pattern. In partrilineal societies, such as those in rural China and India, only males carry on the family surname.African adult married buddy or w
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Chapter Marriage and Family