Chapter 1: A Reading System for Effective Readers
Lab Activity 5: A System of Reading for Effective Readers
To use SQ3R in studying a textbook selection.
Step 2: Read the complete sociology section you have surveyed in the Student Lab Manual. Then answer the questions that follow. Your instructor will tell you whether to write your answers in your book or to submit your answers online for electronic grading.
Marriage and Family in Global Perspective
1 To better understand U.S. patterns of marriage and family, let's first look at how customs differ around the world. This will give us a context for interpreting our own experiences in this vital social institution.
What is a Family?
2 "What is a family, anyway?" asked William Sayres (1992) at the beginning of an article on this topic. By this question, he meant that although the family is so significant to humanity that it is universal—every human group in the world organizes its members in families—the world's cultures display so much variety that the term family is difficult to define. For example, although the Western world regards a family as a husband, wife, and children, other groups have family forms in which men have more than one wife (polygyny) or women more than one husband (polyandry). How about the obvious? Can we define family as the approved group into which children are born? This would overlook the Banaro of New Guinea. In this group, a young woman must give birth before she can marry—and she cannot marry the father of her child (Murdock 1949).
3 And so it goes. For just about every element you might regard as essential to marriage or family, some group has a different custom. Consider the sex of the bride and groom. Although in almost every instance the bride and groom are female and male, there are exceptions. In some Native American tribes, a man or woman who wanted to be a member of the opposite sex went through a ceremony (berdache) and was declared a member of the opposite sex. Not only did the "new" man or woman do the tasks associated with his or her new sex, but also the individual was allowed to marry. In this instance, the husband and wife were of the same biological sex. In the contemporary world, Denmark (in 1989), Norway (in 1993), Sweden (in 1995), and Holland (in 1998) have legalized same-sex marriages.
4 Such remarkable variety means that we have to settle for a broad definition. A family consists of people who consider themselves related by blood, marriage, or adoption. A household, in contrast, consists of all people who occupy the same housing unit—a house, apartment, or other living quarters.
5 We can classify families as nuclear (husband, wife, and children) and extended (including people such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in addition to the nuclear unit). Sociologists also refer to the family of orientation (the family in which an individual grows up) and the family of procreation (the family formed when a couple have their first child). Finally, regardless of its form, marriage can be viewed as a group's approved mating arrangement—usually marked out by a ritual of some sort (the wedding) to indicate the couple's new public status.
Common Cultural Themes
6 Despite this diversity, several common theses do run through the concepts of marriage and family. All societies use marriage and family to establish patterns of mate selection, descent, inheritance, and authority. Let's look at these patterns.
7 Mate Selection. Each human group establishes norms to govern who marries whom. Norms of endogamy specify that people should marry within their own group. Groups may prohibit interracial marriages, for example. In contrast, norms of exogamy specify that people must marry outside their group. The best example is the incest taboo, which prohibits sex and marriage among designated relatives. In some societies these norms are written into law, but in most cases they are informal. In the United States most whites marry whites and most African Americans marry African Americans—not because of any laws but because of informal norms.
8 Descent. How are you related to your father's father or to your mother's mother? The explanation is found in your society's system of descent, the way people trace kinship over generations. To us, a bilateral system seems natural—for we think of ourselves as related to both our mother's and father's side. "Doesn't everyone?" you might ask. Interestingly, this is only one logical way to reckon descent. In a patrilineal system, descent is traced only to the father's side, and children are not considered related to their mother's relatives. In a matrilineal system, descent is figured only on the mother's side, and children are not considered related to their father's relatives. The Naxi of China don't even have a word for father (Hong 1999).
9 Inheritance. Marriage and family—in whatever form is customary in a society—are also used to compute rights of inheritance. In the bilateral system, property is passed to both males and females, in the patrilineal system only to males, and in the matrilineal system (the rarest form) only to females. Each system matches a people's ideas of justice and logic.
10 Authority. Historically, some form of patriarchy, a social system in which men dominate women, has formed a thread that runs through all societies. Contrary to what many think, there are no historical records of a true matriarchy, a social system in which women dominate men as a group. Our marriage and family customs, then, developed within a framework of patriarchy. Although U.S. family patterns are becoming more egalitarian, or equal, many of today's customs still point to their patriarchal origin. Naming patterns, for example, reflect patriarchy. Despite some changes, the typical bride still takes the groom's last name; children, too, usually receive the father's last name.
—Henslin, Essentials of Sociology, 5th ed, pp. 324–326.
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