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These distinctions have cultural significance 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.
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.
Christina’s mom believes that the couple should do whatever they want but adds that it would “be nice” if they wed.
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.
Critical sociology emphasizes that the forms that define the “typical” family unit are not independent of historical changes in the economic structures and relations of power in society.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. The modern concept of family is far more encompassing than in past decades. (Photo (a) courtesy Gareth Williams/flickr; photo (b) courtesy Guillaume Paumier/ Wikimedia Commons) 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. Not even sociologists are able to agree on a single meaning.The typical large, extended family of the rural, agriculture-based economy 100 years ago in Canada was much different from the single breadwinner-led “nuclear” family of the Fordist economy following World War II and different again from today’s families who have to respond to economic conditions of precarious employment, fluid modernity, and norms of gender and sexual equality.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).
Here, we will define family as a socially recognized group (usually joined by blood, marriage, or adoption) that forms an emotional connection and serves as an economic unit of society.