Unit VII. Social Institution. The Family.
studying this unit you should be able to answer the following questions:
all families necessarily composed of a husband, a wife, and their children?
do societies vary in the way that power within the family is distributed?
functions does the family perform for society?
are the basic forms of religious organization? Which of them prevails in
modern industrial society and why?
FAMILY: UNIVERSAL BUT VARIED
family as a social institution is present in all cultures. A family
can be defined as a set of persons related by blood, marriage (or some
agreed-upon relationship) or adoption who share the primary responsibility for
reproduction and caring for members of society.
the organization of the family can very greatly, there are certain general
principles concerning its composition, descent patterns, residence patterns,
and authority patterns.
Composition: What Is the Family?
society the family has traditionally been viewed in very narrow terms — as a
married couple and their unmarried children living together. However, this is
but one type of family, what sociologists refer to as a nuclear family
upon which larger family groups are built. But only a certain part of
households will fit this model. A family in which relatives other than parents
and children - such as grandparents, aunts and uncles — live in the same home
is know as an extended family. While not common, such living
arrangements do exist. The structure of the extended family offers certain
advantages. Crises, such as death, divorce, and illness involve less strain
for family members, since there are more individuals who can provide
assistance and emotional support. In addition, the extended family constitutes
a larger economic unit than the nuclear family. If the family is engaged in a
common enterprise — for example, running a farm or a small business — the
additional family members may represent the difference between prosperity and
considering these differing family types, we have limited ourselves to the
term of marriage which is called monogamy. The term monogamy describes
a form of marriage in which one woman and one man are married only to each
other. Some observers, noting a high rate of divorce in modern society, have
suggested a more accurate term "serial monogamy" under which a person
is allowed to have several spouses in his or her life but can have only one
spouse at a time.
cultures allow an individual to have several husbands or wives simultaneously.
This form of marriage is known as polygamy. You may be surprised to
learn that most societies throughout the world, past and present, have
exhibited a preference for polygamy, not monogamy. Polygamy cultures devalue
the social worth of women.
Descent Patterns: To Whom Are We Related?
state of being related to others is called kinship. The family and the kin
group are not necessarily the same. While the family is a household unit, kin
do not always live or function together. Kin groups include aunts, cousins,
in-laws, and so forth.
Family Residence: Where Do We Live?
Formally, a married couple is expected to establish a separate household.
However, if we take a cross-cultural view, it is relatively uncommon. In many
societies, the bride and groom live either with his or her parents. The reason
for it is that the new couples need the emotional support and especially the
economic support of their kinfolk.
Authority Patterns: Who Rules?
that you are recently married and must begin to make decisions about the
future of your new family. Immediately, an issue is raised: «Who has the power
to make the decision?», in simpler terms, who rules the family?
Societies vary in the way that power within the family is distributed. If a
society expects males to dominate in all family decision making, it is termed
a patriarchy. Women hold low status in such societies. By contrast, in
a matriarchy, women have greater authority than men. But researchers
have come to the conclusion that in modern history there is not a society
which truly has this pattern of family organization.
marital relationships may be neither male-dominated nor female-dominated. The
third type of authority pattern, the egalitarian family, is one in
which spouses are regarded as equals. This does not mean, however, that each
decision is shared in such families. Mothers may hold authority in some
spheres, fathers in others. In the view of many sociologists, the egalitarian
family has begun to replace the patriarchal family as the social norm.
Functions of the Family: Do We Really Need the Family?
century ago Frederick Engels, a colleague of Karl Marx, described the family
as «the ultimate source of social inequality». More recently other theorists
have stated that the family contributes to social injustice, denies
opportunities to women, and limits freedom in sexual expression and mate
to evaluate such issues, it is helpful to examine the functions the family
fulfills. There are six of them:
society to maintain itself, it must replace dying members.
infants need constant care, economic security, upbringing.
and other kin monitor a child's behavior and transmit the norms, values and
language of a culture to the child.
Regulation of sexual behavior.
Standards of sexual behavior are most clearly defined within the family
family is obliged to serve the emotional needs of its members. We expect our
relatives to understand us, to care for us, and to be there with us when we
Providing of social status.
inherit a social position because of the «family background» and reputation of
our parents. Moreover, the family resources affect our ability to pursue
certain opportunities such as higher education and specialized lessons.
and translate the text using a dictionary if necessary.
in the text the English equivalents for the following:
быть связанным узами
крови (брака), заранее определенные отношения, делить ответственность,
заботиться о ком-либо (любить), очень отличаться, состав (семьи),
рассматриваться очень узко, семья (домашние, хозяйство), подходить
(соответствовать) чему-либо, развод, так...как, оказывать помощь и поддержку,
вести хозяйство, процветание, неудача (провал), ограничиваться чем-либо,
жениться на (выйти замуж за), состоять в браке с, высокий уровень разводов,
супруг(а), одновременно, оказывать предпочтение чему-либо, обесценивать
социальную значимость, происхождение, родство — родственники (2), родственники
(со стороны жены или мужа), и так далее, местожительство, жить отдельно, жених
и невеста, принимать решения, возникает проблема, проще говоря, супружеские
отношения, иметь вес (влияние), заменять, основной источник, общественное
неравенство, вести к социальной несправедливости, лишать женщин возможностей,
ограничивать свободу, выбор партнера (супруга), несовершеннолетний, нуждаться
в постоянной заботе, безопасность, воспитание, внутри семейного окружения,
любовь, товарищество (общение), реализовать возможности.
Supply the missing words or word combinations choosing among those given
family can be defined as a set of persons related by some ... relationship. 2)
There are certain general principles ...the family organization. 3) In human
society the family has been traditionally viewed in very .... 4) The structure
of the extended family ... certain advantages. 5) Crises involve less ...for
extended families. 6) Extended families are often ... in a common enterprise.
7) Some sociologists, noting a high ... of divorce, have suggested a more ...
term "serial monogamy". 8) Most societies ... the world have ... a preference
for polygamy, not monogamy. 9) The state of being related to other is called
... but... do not always live or function together. 10) Formally, a married
couple is expected ... a separate household. 11) Societies vary in the way
that power within the family is ...12) Some ...relationships may be neither
... nor ... . 13) In the egalitarian family ... are regarded as ... . 14) This
does not mean that in the egalitarian family each decision is ... . 15) For a
society ... itself, it must ... dying members. 16) Human ... need ... care,
economic ... and ... . 17) We ... a social position because of the "family
background" and the ... of our parents. 18) Moreover, the family resources...
our ability ... certain opportunities.
affect, to pursue, inherit, reputation, infants, constant, security,
upbringing, to maintain, replace, shared, spouses, equals, marital,
male-dominated, female-dominated, distributed, to establish, kinship, kin,
throughout, exhibited, rate, accurate, engaged, a train, offers, narrow terms,
Study the following word combinations and use then in sentences of your own.
related by, to share responsibilities, to care for, to vary greatly, to be
viewed in very narrow terms, to fit smth, to offer certain advantages, to
involve strain for smth, to provide assistance and support, to be engaged in a
common enterprise, to limit oneself to, at a time, to exhibit, a preference
for, to devalue smb's social worth, to establish a separate household, either
... or ... , a reason for, to make decisions about, to be termed, to come to a
conclusion, neither ... nor ..., to be regarded as equals, to hold authority,
in order to do smth, to need constant care, to monitor smth, to be obliged, to
pursue certain opportunities.
Reread the text and answer the following questions.
is the family as far as its composition is concerned? 2) What living
arrangements exist in human society? 3) How can you prove that the extended
family offers certain advantages over the nuclear family? 4) What forms of
marriage do you know? 5) What does the cross-cultural view about the family
residence show? 6) How do societies vary in the way that power within the
family is distributed? 7) Do you agree that in the egalitarian family spouses
are regarded as equals? 8) Do you believe that the egalitarian family will
replace the patriarchal family in our society? 9) What are the functions of
the family in modern society? 10) Why do you think it is helpful to examine
the functions the family fulfills?
Define the following key terms and memorize the definitions:
nuclear family, extended family, monogamy, "serial monogamy", polygamy,
kinship, patriarchy, matriarchy, egalitarian family.
is a "white wedding"?
a. when people get married in church observing all the customs
that go with this kind of wedding
b. when the bride wears white even if they get married in a
the wedding takes place in winter
the wedding the bridegroom has a male friend called "the Best Man". What is
the bride's female friend called?
a. the Best Girl
b. the Maid of Honour
c. the Best Maiden
of these months is considered to be unlucky for the wedding both in Russia and
the wedding reception the bride and the bridegroom cut the wedding cake which
usually consists of three or four layers with a cream filling and white icing
(it often looks like a multy-storey building). Slices of this are sent in
small boxes to those who were invited but could not come to the wedding. The
top layer is sometimes kept until:
a. the first quarrel happens
b. the newly-weds come back from honeymoon
c. the first baby is born
the bride and bridegroom leave (usually before the reception ends), the bride
throws her bouquet to her friends. The woman who catches it will, according to
a. become the god mother to the firstborn
b. be the next one to get married
c. be lucky in love
English-speaking countries this is a traditional kind of jewellery for the
bride to wear. In Russia it is considered a sign of future tears and brides
traditionally do not wear it.
daughter of Judy Garland, a Hollywood star, became a famous singer and
actress. This is
a. Liza Minelli
b. Kim Bessinger
lov'd me for the dangers I had pass'd: And I lov'd her that she did pity
does this quotation come from? Who says this and about whom?
a. "Don Juan" by Lord Byron
b. "The Lady of Shallot" by A. Tennyson
c. "Othello" by W. Shakespeare
Edward VIII gave up the British throne to marry
a. an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson
b. a Persian princess, Aysheh
c. a Russian communist, Dasha Krylova
"Hamlet" by W. Shakespeare what relation is Hamlet to the present King?
close a relative would the sister-in-law of your father's only brother be?
relatives are dependent on you?
c. uncles, aunts, and cousins