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Family Chapter 18 Traditional Image of Family The


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Title: Family Chapter 18 Traditional Image of Family The

FamilyChapter 18
Traditional Image of Family
  • The traditional image of the ideal American
    family is a monolithic image in which the family
  • Rigidly nuclear.
  • Suburban Middle class.
  • Traditional gender roles.
  • This image was idealized in 1950s and 60s TV
    shows like Ozzie Harriet and Leave it to
    Beaver. The reality is that only about 10 of
    American families fit this image. American
    families are actually very diverse.

Basic Concepts
  • Kinship social relationships based on blood,
    marriage, or adoption.
  • Family a relative permanent social group of 2 or
    more people who share a kinship.
  • Some qualify this definition to add that, in
    addition to the above, these people live
  • Note Social conservatives typically view family
    in much more narrow terms. They see it as a legal
    marriage between a man and a woman. Social
    liberals disagree, arguing that we need a more
    inclusive definition of the concept.

Basic Concepts
  • Family of origin the family one is born into.
  • Family of procreation the family one forms,
    typically to have kids.
  • Marriage a socially approved mating arrangement
    that is expected to be relatively permanent.

The Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • While all societies recognize families, they do
    not do family the same way.
  • Industrial societies tend to favor the nuclear
    family. This is where there are only the parents
    and the children (and pets) living under one
  • Non-industrial societies tend to favor the
    extended family.This is where the parents and
    kids live with or very close to other kinfolk.
  • The Americans tend to favor the nuclear family,
    but this is mainly in the middle class. Among the
    American lower class, extended families are quite
    common. There is much variety in American

Why are nuclear families so typical of industrial
Why Nuclear Families?
  • 1. Geographic mobility.
  • In industrial societies, work and family are
    differentiated institutions. People have relocate
  • 2. Social mobility.
  • Our society is also socially mobile, with a fair
    amount of upward mobility on the ladder of
  • Both geographic and social mobility tend to
    weaken extended family ties. Nuclear families are
    highly mobile.
  • 3. American values.
  • Another reason is that Americans like
    individualism and privacy, and the nuclear family
    is a more closed and private family system with
    fewer relatives butting in.
  • 4. The rise of a large middle class brought more
  • Affluence made it possible to afford to live
    independently from other kinfolk. Nuclear
    families tend to be middle class families.

Comparison of American and Iraqi
FamiliesAmerican Iraqi
  • Romantic love is the basis of marriage.
  • Most are nuclear families.
  • More egalitarian with democratic authority.
  • More exogamy.
  • Individualism emphasized.
  • Arranged marriage is more common. 50 are between
    cousins this promotes clan solidarity.
  • Most are extended families.
  • More patriarchal with elders in authority, more
  • Strict endogamy for most.
  • Familism (family over individual) is emphasized.

Marriage Patterns
  • Cultural norms regulate whom an individual is
    allowed to marry, and these norms vary across
  • Endogamy marriage between people of the same
    group or category.
  • Most Americans are fairly endogamous by race,
    religion, social class, and age. We tend to marry
    people who are like ourselves, but we are a
    relatively free society so this is not so
    strictly enforced.
  • Exogamy marriage between people of different
    groups or categories, such as between a white and
    a black person, or a Jew and a Christian.
  • Since the 1960s, Americans are more open to
    exogamous marriages by race, ethnicity, sexual
    orientation, etc.

Monogamy Vs. Polygamy
  • Industrial societies tend to favor norms of
    monogamy one partner has one mate.
  • Our high divorce rate brings serial monogamy,
    where one mate is replaced with another.
  • Only 1/4th of the worlds societies limit
    marriage to monogamy, yet most marriages across
    the world are monogamous. This is due to the
    expense of having multiple spouses, the similar
    ratio of men to women, and the fact that people
    seem to like pairing off.
  • Non-industrial societies have more norms of
    polygamy one partner has multiple mates.
  • Polygyny one man mates with multiple women.
  • Polyandry one woman mates with multiple men.
    This is fairly rare, given that most societies
    are patriarchal.

Family Authority Patterns
  • Patriarchy male social dominance. This pattern
    is found all over the world. Most societies are
  • Matriarchy female social dominance. This is so
    rare that some argue there are no matriarchal
    societies in the world.
  • However there are societies where women are
    relatively equal to men. These are egalitarian
  • The Americans and Europeans are moving from
    patriarchal, the current arrangement, toward
    egalitarian authority where men and women share
    decision-making together.

Four Historical Forces that Help Women Toward
  • 1. Industrial Revolution changed standards.
  • The new era emphasizes cognition over brute
    power, and women are just as smart as men.
  • 2. Decline of religious codes and the rise of
    secular society.
  • Traditional Christian religion sanctified social
    hierarchy. The father was defined as above the
    mother, who was above the children.
  • 3. Decreasing size of the family gave women time.
  • 1800 8 children on average. This is burdensome
    for women.
  • 1900 4 children.
  • 2000 2.3 children. Women got time for more
    pursuits like jobs.
  • 4. Technology changes like the pill gave women
  • The pill (1959) gave women control to postpone
    pregnancy so they could get educated and get
    better jobs.

History of U.S. Family, Functions, and Economy
Family Functions
Patriarchy, religious, women have economic roles.
Almost everything, including economic functions.
Limited to child-centered and emotional
activities, with father as breadwinner and mother
as caretaker (ideally). Children and women become
sentimentalized women are more sexualized.
Patriarchy, more secular, women lost economic
Declining patriarchy, secular, women in the labor
Less rigidly nuclear
Dual wage families means some loss of child
rearing functions to day care and schools.
Changing Images of Family
  • 1. Family as Haven. 1850s-today.
  • With differentiation of work from family, work
    became associated with cold, competitive
    conditions while family was linked to a warm
    haven of love, especially for the husband
    returning home from work. Family expectations
  • 2. Family as Fun. 1950s-today.
  • Post WWII affluence brought new expectations of
    family recreation which raised expectations about
    family life as fun times.
  • 3. Family as Encumbrance. 1960s-today.
  • More family conflicts came out in the open. The
    rise of a distinct youth culture brought a
    generation gap between teens and parents, and
    rising feminism increased womens frustration
    with patriarchal families. Since the 1960s, we
    are a bit more open about the family experience
    as a negative experience.

Four Key Functions of Family
  • 1. Socialization.
  • The family is responsible for primary
    socialization, making it the most influential
    institution in society.
  • 2. Regulation of sex.
  • All societies regulate sex, and all have an
    incest taboo (a strong more forbidding sex
    between certain kin). This taboo helps define
    family boundaries while protecting the diversity
    of the biological gene pool.
  • 3. Social placement.
  • The family ascribes an immediate social status
    for the infant and provides them with a social
  • 4. Material and emotional security.
  • People in families tend to be healthier and
    happier than individuals living alone.

Courtship in Non-Industrial Societies
  • In non-industrial societies, courtship is
    considered too important to be left alone to the
    two individuals.
  • This is due to the central economic importance of
    the family to survival.
  • These cultures tend to favor arranged marriages -
    marriages set up by the parents, often when the
    children are still very young. In this system,
    marriage represents an alliance between 2
    families more than 2 individuals.
  • Arranged marriages tend to be relative strong
    marriages, largely because the boy and girl share
    the same cultural values and attitudes. They tend
    to be homogamous.
  • Homogamy means that the couple have similar
    characteristics. Homogamy promotes marital

Courtship in Industrial Societies
  • With industrialization and growing individualism,
    extended families decline and nuclear families
  • The rise of personal choice (freedom) means that
    the marriage will be between 2 individuals who
    choose each other.
  • Here, courtship tends to be extended, because
    they need to get to know each other on their own
    terms and they need to select the right
  • Another reason for the extensive courtship is
    that patriarchal societies tend to expect men to
    delay marriage so that they can become
    financially established.
  • In the past, courtship used to be chaperoned by
    parents. Today it is frequently a period of
    sexual experimentation and exploration of
    romantic love between 2 individuals.

Romantic Love
  • Romantic love is largely a Western ideal
    associated with the tiny aristocratic class of
    past monarchies. Eventually it spread to the vast
    rising middle classes of the 19th century,
    emphasizing erotic passion as the basis of
  • Before then, the basis of marriage involved
    practical and rational considerations, usually
    involving considerations of wealth, standing, and
    family alliances.
  • Today Americans are heavily socialized into the
    value of erotic romance as the basis of marriage.
  • About 50 of all songs on the radio are romantic
    love songs.
  • Americans view romantic love as the single most
    important element in courtship.

Romantic Love
  • Romantic love emphasizes the non-rational appeal
    of erotic passion as the basis of the
    relationship, and this can lead to intense
    initial bonding. It is the stuff of much poetry.
  • Romantic love is a non-rational criteria in a
    highly rationalized society, reminding us that we
    are not that rational.
  • However, romantic love is highly unstable.
    Studies suggest romantic love tends to decrease
    over time. Marriages based solely on romantic
    love can become unstable.
  • This helps explain why Americans have one of the
    highest divorce rates among stable societies. We
    use non-rational considerations as the primary
    basis of commitments intended to last a life
  • Romantic love, sometimes called erotic love, is
    one of several types of love, including affection
    (family based such as between parent and child
    or brother and sister), friendship, and spiritual
    love. Often a couple that marries for romantic
    love develops these other forms of love,
    strengthening their relationship over time.

Romantic Love
  • How is romantic love functional today?
  • Industrial societies require a lot of
    geographical mobility among the workforce. A
    nuclear family bonded by romantic passion
    functions to make it easier to leave ones
    parents, siblings, and friends behind to pursue a
  • Given the perhaps over-rationalized nature of our
    society, romantic love (and rock n roll) offer a
    passionate reminder that we are not machines. We
    have feelings and we are free to express them.

Romantic Love
  • How is romantic love dysfunctional?
  • Studies of couples that move away from families
    and friends to a distant city to get new jobs
    reveal that there is an initial increase in the
    emotional solidarity of the couple, but that
    after a year or so there is a good possibility
    that one of the partners will become
    overly-dependent on the attentions of the other
    and the relationship becomes stressed.
  • Romantic love brings a high level of emotional
    intensity. Consequently, spousal arguments can
    breed aggression and violence. The Americans have
    a high rate of family violence and divorce partly
    for this reason.
  • Overall, marriages based solely on romantic love
    are less strong than marriages based on practical

  • The strongest marriages are characterized by
    homogamy, where the couple shares similar social
    characteristics involving age, social class,
    ethnicity, religion, and core values. The more
    homogamous the couple, the greater their long
    term compatibility.
  • Fortunately, people tend to be attracted to
    others who share their values and come from a
    similar cultural background.

Gendered Intimacy
  • Generally, whereas men use intimacy to get sex,
    women use sex to get intimacy.
  • It is partly related to male and female biology.
    Men have a higher sex drive at younger ages,
    while women have a higher sex drive at older
  • This is also due to socialization, which
    encourages women to pursue intimacy while telling
    men to be less intimate and more autonomous and
  • This means that men and women who have been
    socialized into mainstream definitions of
    masculine and feminine are likely to
    experience love and marriage in different ways.
  • It also means that women are much more likely to
    complain of the marriage as lacking in intimacy,
    and this may lead to divorce.

Gendered Intimacy
  • Women tend to blend sexuality with emotional
    intimacy men tend to separate sex and intimacy.
  • For women more than men, an argument will affect
    her desire to have sex with her partner.
  • Marriage brings responsibilities that passion
    alone cannot conquer, and passion itself is
    affected by social performance.
  • Satisfying sexual relationships are dependent
    upon satisfying social relationships, especially
    for women.
  • When the quality of the husband-wife interaction
    declines, the frequency and quality of sex tends
    to decline as well.
  • The key to marital bliss is in the everyday
    quality of spousal interaction. They must enjoy
    each others company in rooms beyond the bedroom.

  • Research suggests that romantic love involves a
    high level of fantasy. People fall in love with
    others for what they would like them to be not
    as they really are.
  • Women, more than men, are socialized to fall in
    love with the idea of marriage. Consequently
    women tend to have higher expectations about
    marriage, and are therefore more likely to become
    disappointed with the reality of marriage.
  • In marriage, spouses must learn to be realistic
    about their expectations of their partners.
  • There are several significant periods in a
    marriage that involve re-negotiation of roles and
    that many bring conflicts.
  • 1. The first baby.
  • 2. When the last child leaves home.

Problems of Childrearing
  • Childrearing places special stresses on the
  • 1. Economic stress. While children are an
    economic asset in agrarian economies, they are an
    economic liability in industrial economies. It
    has become very expensive to raise a child.
  • 2. Social stress. Due to traditional gender
    roles, the mother tends to lose much of her
    social life because she bears primary
    responsibility for parenting the child, and she
    often becomes more dependent upon the man.
  • Women experience more role conflicts due to
    conflicting expectations as a parent versus a
    wage earner. Research suggests that women do
    benefit from having roles outside the family,
    however. This is because family stress can be
    buffered by having enjoyable non-family roles.
    This is called role buffering.
  • 3. Psychological stress. It is not uncommon for
    men to feel jealous toward new babies and to feel
    more personal stress as the breadwinner.

Marriage in Later Life
  • Today couples can expect to live into their mid
    to late 70s. This is 20 years longer than 150
    years ago.
  • By the age of 50, the children have typically
    left home, leaving the husband and wife home
    alone to readjust their relationship.
  • This can be stressful and it is not uncommon for
    divorce to occur in this phase of marriage. They
    may learn they have little in common other than
    the kids.
  • This can also be a stressful time because
    motherhood may have been the wifes master status
    and she must now renegotiate her identity.

Varieties of Family Life
  • 1. Social Class.
  • The lower the social class, the greater the
    economic stresses and the more difficult to
    sustain a family.
  • For this reason, people in the lower class are
    less likely to marry, and once married, are more
    likely to divorce than other social classes.
  • The lower the social class, the less nuclear and
    more extended the family form is likely to be.
    This is because extended families offer more
    support for poor people.
  • The only exception involves the upper class,
    where extended families are common in order to
    promote in-group solidarity and to protect
    in-group wealth. Rich people are expected to
    marry other rich people and this helps sustain
    extended family wealth. This is throw-back to the
    aristocracies of old.
  • The family is our most adaptive institution, and
    we adapt our families to specific conditions.

Varieties of Family Life
  • 2. Ethnicity and Race
  • A. Hispanics (about 15 of the U.S. population)
  • More emphasis on familism, which means loyalty
    and duty to family.
  • Tend to lean toward extended families, partly due
    to Hispanics being disproportionately poor.
  • Tend to support traditional rigid gender and
    family roles that support patriarchy.

Ethnicity and Race
  • B. Blacks (about 13 of the U.S. population)
  • Highest percentage of single mothers.
  • Almost 50 of black families are headed by a
    single mother, compared with about 14 among
    whites. Female headed households are common among
    the poor of all races.
  • The black family has been strongly shaped by the
    legacy of racism and the poverty brought by
  • Blacks are three times more likely to be poor
    than whites.
  • Average black household income is only 2/3rds
    that of whites.
  • Blacks suffer from higher rates of unemployment,
    partly because many live in the ghetto, where
    unemployment is high.

  • Blacks are less like to marry, and once married,
    are more likely to divorce than whites.
  • Like white families, black families tend to be
    nuclear in the middle class and extended in the
    lower class.
  • Today, more than 1/3rd of all black children grow
    up in poverty.
  • Yet there is remarkable strength in many poor
    black families because extended family members
    support each other.
  • It is practical for single mothers to rely
    extensively upon her extended family supports for
    help with day care, transportation, housing,
    emotional support, and other vital needs.

Black fertility rates
  • The birth rate for black women has generally been
    higher than for the rest of the population.
  • In 1996 there were 74 births per 1000 black
    women, compared with 45 births per thousand for
    the American population overall.
  • Black fertility peaked in 1989 at 91 births per
    1000 black women.
  • The high fertility rate of poor black women has
    been the focus of much debate, because the more
    children a poor mother has, the greater the
    economic stress.

Why is the fertility rate higher among poor black
  • Education factors. Generally, the less educated,
    the less likely to use birth control. Plus, our
    popular culture is highly sexualized.
  • Emotional factors. Given American racism, sexism,
    and classism, poor black women are not as well
    respected in our society. Parenthood confers at
    least some respect for the mother and it
    produces the feeling of being productive in
    society. It may also be the case that she wants
    love, and she hopes her children will bring her
  • Economic factors. She may hope that one of her
    children will become affluent, so she thinks the
    more babies she has the greater the chances. In
    reality, the more babies she has, the more
    economic stress she has.
  • Cultural factors. In the ghetto, it is not
    uncommon (1) for her to see other girls having
    more babies and to see it as normal behavior, and
    (2) for young black men to feel pride by having
    babies from different women. If he cant be a man
    financially at least he can sire children to show
    he is a real man. Commercial hip hop doesnt
    help here.

Gender Issues
  • American culture promotes the idea that marriage
    is more beneficial for women than for men.
  • This is a myth. The myth is related to
    traditional gender role expectations that women
    give up their jobs upon marriage and childbirth
    to assume the role of full time mother.
  • The problem here is that it makes women dependent
    upon men, and thus gives more power and authority
    to men at the expense of gender equality.
  • Another problem is that it places all eggs in
    the single basket of motherhood. Research
    suggests that people feel more fulfilled when
    they have a variety of productive roles.

Gender Issues
  • Research suggests that, contrary to myth,
    marriage tends to be more beneficial for men than
  • Married women report more illnesses and lower
    levels of personal happiness than single women.
    Women are more likely than men to feel trapped in
  • Women tend to be socialized into unrealistically
    high expectations about marriage, and patriarchy
    takes its toll on women in every institution,
    including marriage.
  • Married men report fewer illnesses and higher
    levels of personal happiness than single men.
  • Men have been socialized into relatively lower
    expectations about marriage.
  • Egalitarian marriages where the husband shares
    with the housework are associated with the
    highest levels of happiness, while patriarchal
    marriages where the wife has a full time wage job
    and also does the housework are associated with
    the lowest levels of happiness.

Gender Issues
  • Today, American men do only about 1/3rd of the
    housework compared with women.
  • This is better than it used to be, but it is
    inherently unfair in many cases because most
    women today have full time wage jobs.
  • This issue is complex. Men are socialized to not
    be as clean-oriented as women. What is dirty is
    in the eye of the beholder, and women are more
    likely than men to perceive a dirty household.
  • A key issue is whether women accept the
    relatively less amount of labor done by men. If
    she doesnt, it often means conflict.
  • There are socialization implications for
    future-parents here. Should boys be socialized
    toward household chores like cleaning toilets
  • Due to patriarchy, men have more leisure time
    than women in context of their family
  • This may create marital conflicts too.

Family Problems - Divorce
  • Americans have one of the highest marriage rates
    in the world. Roughly 90 of all Americans
    eventually marry.
  • But America also has the highest divorce rate in
    the world. Today about 40-45 of American
    marriages end up in divorce.
  • The divorce rate peaked in the early 1980s in the
    high 40s percentage and has declined slightly
    since then.
  • Among whites the divorce rate is just under 40,
    while among blacks it is over 66.
  • Between 1890 and 1990 the divorce rate increased
    by a factor of ten.

What explains the high divorce rate?
  • 1. Romantic love. Our cultures emphasis on
    romantic love breeds unstable relationships.
  • 2. Increases in individualism and the
    privatization of marriage. Americans spend less
    time with their families today. We have become
    more individualistic and privatized. The rise of
    television and dual-earner families has made it
    harder for spouses to connect.
  • 3. Women are less dependent on the wages of the
    husband, making it easier for her to leave the
  • 4. Children are more expensive and bring new
    stresses that some couples did not anticipate.
  • 5. Divorce is no longer so stigmatized today
    values are changing - and its easier to obtain a
    divorce today.
  • 6. The American economy has become less stable
    since 1972, bringing new economic stresses.
  • 7. The high re-marriage rate means that divorced
    people can expect to find someone else.

Who divorces? Divorce rates are higher for the
following categories
  • Teenagers and younger people, more than middle
    aged people.
  • The lower social classes, where economic stresses
    are great.
  • Where marriage was due to unexpected pregnancy.
  • Where there is less homogamy between the spouses,
    or where the spouses sense they are incompatible
    or fight a lot.
  • Where women have successful careers. Likewise,
    where men prioritize their careers over marriage,
    and his spouse is not economically dependent on
  • Those who have already been through a divorce or
    whose parents divorced.
  • People who move away from kinfolk and friends and
    become more socially isolated.
  • People unable to cope with the loss of passion in
    a marriage or where one or both partners is
    immature or unfaithful.

Problems of Divorce
  • Divorce is not necessarily a problem. When
    divorce is the consequence of abuse, it is the
    solution to a problem. However, divorce usually
    involves making difficult adjustments, especially
    if kids are involved
  • 1. Emotional adjustments sadness, depression,
    disappointment, sense of failure or loss, perhaps
  • Generally women have better coping strategies
    than men. Women are more likely to seek support
    from friends, family and counselors. All else
    being equal, it may take the average man twice as
    long to recover (up to a year).
  • 2. Legal adjustments new legal burdens,
    especially for estranged parents.
  • 3. Community adjustments Individuals must
    redefine themselves and become single again.
    Often friends divide up, favoring one or the
    other partner.
  • 4. Economic adjustments women tend to suffer a
    drop in living standards, while men tend to see a
    rise in their living standards.

Divorce Involving Parents
  • More than half of all divorces involve parents
    who must resolve child custody issues.
  • The traditional pattern is to award custody to
    the mother, because women have been traditionally
    viewed as the primary parent.
  • Recently a growing number of fathers have sought
    custody, and now joint custody where both
    parents retain child care responsibilities is
  • Joint custody preserves a strong bond between
    both parents and lessens the degree of hostility
    between the spouses. However it is difficult if
    one spouse moves away or the parents do not get
    along with each other.
  • Where the mother gets custody and the father is
    required to pay child support, there is a good
    chance that the father will become delinquent
    after about a year, especially if there is anger
    or resentment by the father. Increasingly, the
    state has stepped in to force payment.
  • Unpaid support contributes to the feminization of
    poverty, where women are more likely to be poor
    than men.

Divorce Involving Parents
  • Divorce brings emotional stresses, particularly
    on fathers who are not given custody and on
  • If the child is too young to remember, then the
    divorce tends to be less traumatizing. If the
    child is old enough to remember but not yet
    mature, the divorce often brings long-term
    trauma, and it is not uncommon for children to
    blame themselves for the divorce.
  • These life changes are highly stressful in most
    cases. Yet studies suggest that children seem to
    fare better under divorce compared with staying
    in a family characterized by a high level of
    conflict and violence.
  • Divorces involving legal settlements imposed on
    parents by judges in an antagonistic setting with
    opposing attorneys often bring poor settlements
    for one or both parties.
  • When divorce is mediated by a child custody
    mediator, such as offered by neutral
    organizations like United Way, the settlement is
    more likely to be respected and honored by both
    parents. (The lawyer merely carries out this
    mediated agreement).

  • As the divorce rate in the U.S. increased, so did
    the remarriage rate. Today more than 80 of those
    who divorce will remarry.
  • Men are more likely to remarry than women.
  • Remarriage often creates blended families
    composed of children from different marriages.
  • Blended families must make special efforts to
    establish new (in-group) family boundaries to
    include the children.
  • Subjecting children to new, instant family
    relationships is difficult and stressful. Blended
    families are difficult to sustain due to these
    new stresses.

Family Violence
  • The U.S. has the highest rate of family violence
    among all industrial societies.
  • In 2005, more than 700,000 people were victims of
    family violence.
  • 73 of the victims were women.
  • Today, almost 1/3rd of all female murders are due
    to family violence.
  • This compares with only 4 of male murders.
  • Patriarchy has a severe effect on women.
    Historically, wives were the property of the
    husband and it was permissible for him to beat
    her if she was disobedient.

Family Violence
  • Our society promotes the ideal image of family as
    a source of haven, fun, and fulfillment. It also
    promotes the family as sacred and private.
  • These images hide the reality of the family
    experience, which usually falls short of its
  • The American nuclear family is characterized by
    high levels of emotional intensity between the
    spouses, which is wonderful in context of love.
    But it also helps explain American family
    violence. Passion may quickly give way to violent
  • The American emphasis on romantic love, the
    American love affair with alcohol, and the
    American rat race of stressful living
    contribute to our cultures high family violence
    rate. And there are other factors too.

Spousal Abuse
  • The single most dreaded call by the police is the
    domestic dispute call. Police are more likely
    to be harmed by domestic disputes than any other
    call. This is due to the emotional intensity of
    these arguments.
  • Spouse abuse occurs in all social classes,
    although it is more likely to occur in the most
    stressed out social class the lower class.
  • Psychologists have identified a relationship
    between stress and physical aggression.
  • Wherever there is chronic stress, there is a
    greater likelihood of family abuse.
  • About one in six couples have at least some
    violence in their relationship in any given year.
  • Women are as likely as men to initiate violence.
  • 1. Violence against men is often retaliatory, and
  • 2. Women are more seriously harmed by men than
    the other way around.

Spousal Abuse Causes
  • 1. Romance and passion create an atmosphere of
  • 2. Psychological sense of feeling trapped or
    caged in causes stress, which is linked to
    aggressive behavior.
  • This sensation of feeling trapped may be caused
    by a bad relationship, a bad job, a new baby,
    health issues, financial stress, etc.
  • 3. Patriarchy. Women are devalued in patriarchal
    societies, and patriarchy encourages male
  • In North Carolina at the beginning of the 21st
    century, it was legal to rape your wife,
    providing you shared the same roof.
  • 4. Traditional masculinity (related to
    patriarchy) emphasizes brute power, aggression,
    and dominance.
  • 5. Immaturity by the perpetrator.
  • 6. The American society encourages aggressive
    behavior. We are socialized into violent
    action-movies and hip hop culture that celebrate
    our gun culture.
  • 7. Alcohol Americas favorite drink creates
    the Jekyll-Hyde syndrome.
  • 8. Family experiences growing up violence begets
    violence, reminding us that family violence is
    largely learned behavior.
  • 9. Social isolation. The private nuclear family
    isolates and hides family violence. When friends
    and extended family do not live nearby, violence
    is more likely.

Why doesnt she leave him?
  • In the past, the law regarded domestic violence
    as a private issue between the spouses. She had
    few resources.
  • Even today, there are relatively few womens
    shelters. In the Fall of 2007, one of the main
    Charlotte womens shelters closed.
  • Traditionally, women have had few options. Even
    today, most women remain in the abusive
    relationship. Why?
  • She lacks sufficient family and wage resources to
    get out
  • Her self-esteem tends to be very low
  • she has become passive and tries to endure the
  • She often feels she loves him and hopes he will
    reform (often this means stop drinking) some day
  • she feels she is dependent on him, perhaps
    because they have children and she does not have
    a good job or family resources
  • she may have tried to get away but lacked the
    resources and ended up back with him again. After
    that it is harder to take action.

Child Abuse
  • In 2005, there were 3 million reports of alleged
    child abuse or neglect.
  • Roughly 1500 children die each year from child
  • Child abuse is the ultimate taboo. This is
    because it is a severe violation of trust and
    power in a dependent relationship.
  • Children are dependents. They must depend on
    their families to provide for them, and this
    special power must not be abused.
  • Child abuse is both physical and emotional.
    Children suffer deep and lasting scars
  • They may somehow blame themselves
  • They learn to distrust others
  • They have difficulty loving others
  • They frequently abuse themselves with drugs,
    prostitution, and other self-abusive behaviors.

Who are the abusers?
  • Child abuse is largely learned behavior.
  • Roughly 58 of child abusers are women, almost
    all of whom were themselves abused.
  • Incest, a special case of child abuse, involves
    the sexual abuse of a child. About 90 of these
    abusers are men, but they do not fall into easy
  • One common trait of child abuse is that the
    abusers themselves were more likely to have been
    abused when they were children.
  • Violent behavior within close family
    relationships is typically learned behavior.

Primary causes of non-incest child abuse
  • 1. Stress, such as from feeling trapped in a
    relationship, a constantly screaming child, a bad
    job, feeling overworked or exhausted, etc.
  • 2. Authoritarianism. Often the child abuser
    expects too much of the child and punishes them
    for failing to meet their strict and overly-high
  • 3. Immaturity.
  • 4. Alcohol.
  • 5. Learned via their own family experience.
  • 6. Absence of family and other social supports.

  • Americans have high divorce and family violence
    rates for reasons that relate to the social
    structure itself.
  • The Americans are the only industrial democracy
    that treats work and family life as two separate
    spheres. They are not. If work is stressful, we
    bring these stresses home and kick the dog.
    American jobs are highly stressful and policy
    makers provide fewer supports for U.S. families
    compared with every other industrial democracy.
  • Americans are the only industrial democracy
    without national health care, national day care
    supports, 4-6 week vacations, and strong
    anti-poverty welfare support programs. In this
    country, the prevailing attitude is capitalist
  • There are other key factors too American
    gun-culture, masculinity, romantic love,
    hyper-individualism, and the American love affair
    with alcohol all contribute to our family