The meaning of family over decades has changeddrastically. Intoday’s society, “the family” deviates from the prototypical normative Canadianfamily. There are variations in families that now exist, some containingnon-hetero-normative couples, single parenting, co-parenting with no legal arrangements,as well as cohabitating. What constitutes a family has gradually becomecomplex, slowly changing as modifications occur over time. The way one familyviews their family may differ from their friends’, coworkers, etc. Moreover,the definition of family is reconstructed and altered based on, or specific to,the individual or society.
The family is a social system that governs anindividual’s life by the closeness and relationship maintained. Differentdynamics are considered when conceptualizing “the family” and how today’ssociety defines what it is, and how the normative family is done. This paperexamines how families in the new millennium are defined through research andtheoretical perspectives. “Thefamily” is a hotly debated topic to many living in today’s society. It can be acomplex topic with a wide range of definitions, varying from family to family.According to Sociologists centuries ago, a family was made of up a group ofpeople with close intimate relations; be it by blood, sexual encounters, orlegal ties (Mitchell, 2012).
The ideal “popular” definition of a family wasthat of a nuclear family, consisting of a husband, wife, and usually childrensharing a house with no other entities present. However, that ideology hasshifted into the new millennium with variations in families present. Mitchelldescribes families as “a group of people who have intimate or close socialrelationships and a shared history together” (Mitchell, 2012). There isemphasis on relationships and not composition. Back in the early nineteenhundreds, the definition of families were primarily focused on familial ties byblood, however, that notion has changed and is now concerned with therelationships. The new millennium considers contemporary definitions and believesin the relationships created too. Nowadays, sociologists believe families canbe created through activities, behaviors, relations, interactions,accomplishments, processes, and practices.
For instance, David Morgan believesin family practices through interactionsand exchanges of support that make up family life (Morgan, 1996, 2011).Families of choice are people whom you feel comfortable and closely related to,for instance friends. Friends are considered fictive kin because though theyare not related through blood, they are close enough to be considered family.The definition of family can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a familyof orientation, a family or procreation, fictive kin, or all simultaneously(Mitchell, 2012). Whether it is a group of people whom you have blood relationsto, or simply just a tight-knit group of people whom you feel closeness to. Thenew millennium has brought about variations of the definition of family,however, the term can be specific to individuals. Some people may considertheir pet’s family, whereas others may completely deny that as being a memberof the family.
The typicaldefinition of family has changed as the years progressed. The Standard NorthAmerican family is a great type of family to study in today’s society becauseof its transformations throughout the years. It used to be the ideal example of the American dream, withthe knowledgeable husband, nurturing housewife, and children. The husband wasthe breadwinner in charge of bringing home the income, whereas the mother tookcare of the domestic chores and nurtured the children. However, in today’ssociety, variations in families occur, some containing lone parent householdsand others with same-sex couples. Families centuries ago had ascribed familialroles, whereas today, both adults share roles and responsibilities within thehome.
Both adults are dual income parents and share domestic chores, likecooking, cleaning and nurturing the children. Families are more sociallyegalitarian than it was centuries ago. Studying why and how the families havetransformed would make a great research paper. Investigating when the traditionhas been broken, and how the new definition of “the family” has been coined.Questions unpacking the structure and evolution of the Standard North AmericanFamily, and how it has become atypical overtime is best for analyzing thisfamily type.
Most people’s definitions of what constitutes a family has shiftedfrom being strictly blood related, to now including fictive kin which shall bedepicted how that has come about. Two-parent households are declining withdivorce, remarriage, and cohabitation increasing. Marriage and fertility ratesare dropping as adults are conceiving out of wedlock or delaying children toenter the workforce. Primary questions to be focused on are how thetransformation in family and family dynamics have changed over centuries. Theoretical perspectives are a setof assumptions formed about questions asked. It is viewed as looking throughlens which we hope to depict results from.
The theoretical perspective I choseto be used on nuclear families is the feminist perspective. The feministperspective is one of the sociological perspectives widely known and used intoday’s society. A majority of feminists believe “gender” is sociallyconstructed, meaning that gender roles assigned have been learnt throughsociety and not biologically determined. They believe the family is wheresocialization first develops, it being the basis of where appropriate roles andbehaviors come to be. Theoretical perspectives are significant to researchbecause they provide insight into our thoughts and ideas, clarifying them to amore specific degree. They help formulate questions, design research, andanalyze results. Feminists have been central to dismantling the inequality andinsuperiority within nuclear families since the 1960s (Mitchell, 2012).
Menhave always been viewed as powerful and more dominant, however, feminists havechallenged these views. The women back in the nineteenth century have beenresponsible for domestic chores within the house, and nurturing children.However, with the help of feminists, women are now seen as a bit more equal tomen. Not entirely, but a change has been made. Today’s society is now a lot moreegalitarian than it used to be.