SOC115 – I Do (Not): Marriage and Family in the 21st Century

Abstract 

We’re baaaack! This week we’re discussing two major social institutions that are in the midst of serious change: First, the Family! How does sociology look at the family unit? How is the family used as a tool of socialization? What about those ‘non-traditional’ families? Second, that thing that to many of us symbolizes the start of a family– Marriage! We talk about the economic benefits of getting married, our own personal takes on marriage, and the gradual but very real deinstitutionalization of marriage. Listen, learn, and let us know what you think!

Keywords 

Marriage, Family, Socialization

Resources

  1. Different types of marriages:
    1. Monogamy involves a family with one wife and one husband.
    2. Polygamy involves multiple spouses.
    3. Endogamy involves marrying a person with similar social characteristics
      1. The Chinese phrase “Men Dang Hu Dui”, or “The doors must match” is a cultural example of endogamy. As Chao Yang in Television and Dating in Contemporary China writes, the phrase “‘Men Dang Hu Dui’ [is] behind traditional arranged marriage, in which being introduced to a marriage partner from a family with similar social rank was the norm” (p. 118).
    4. Exogamy involves marrying someone with different social characteristics
    5. Bigamy is when you marry another person when you’re already married to someone else
  2. ‘Modern Family’ TV show
  3. ‘Sister Wives’ TV show
  4. Brigham Young, famous Mormon polygamist
  5. 2013 Pew Research Poll that found 88% of Americans marry for love. Awww. Of course this is just one study, but it’s Pew so it’s legitimate!
  6. Cook’s 2015 article on the economic benefits of marriage, “For Richer, Not Poorer: Marriage and the Growing Class Divide”
  7. Amanda William’s 2013 article, “Is Marriage Now Just a Middle-Class Institution?”
  8. Amanda Hess’ 2013 article, “Marriage is the New Middle-Class Luxury Item”
  9. Jeanna Smialek’s 2017 article,“The Decline of Marriage is Hitting Vegas Hard”
    1. Marriage has become a clear dividing line in a stratified country. Its decline is most pronounced among those who didn’t go beyond high school, as better educated people tend to marry each other. America’s working and middle classes are faring badly, and the research points to unraveling families as one cause.”
  10. Deinstitutionalization
    1. Definition: “A weakening of the social norms that define partners’ behavior.”
    2. From Andrew Cherlin’s  2004 article, “The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage”
  11. Ritual
    1. Definition: “any regular pattern of interaction.” Something that is considered “normal”, “regular”, or “the norm”.
  12. Trump calling Haiti and African countries “shitholes” (despite the fact that the largest shithole on this planet is Trump’s mouthhole) (Washington Post)
  13. Senate Passes Bill to Extend Key Surveillance Program” from the Washington Post
  14. What is a VPN–Virtual Private Network

2 thoughts on “SOC115 – I Do (Not): Marriage and Family in the 21st Century”

  1. For Sociologist, you got very judgmental about polygamous relationships. You should recall Georg Simmel’s last line of “The Metropolis and Mental Life”.

    1. Hi Kim, thank you for your comment! We agree that an aspect of science is to be objective or non judgmental, but that doesn’t mean we can’t critique how certain social phenomena play out. Of course, anything and everything in society is not universal. We talk about this moral aspect of sociology in episode 2 of “You’re all Sociologists!”. As we discussed in this episode on family and marriage though, polygamous relationships are typically very patriarchal, as in the example of the Sister Wives TV show. Patriarchy is not something the hosts are particularly fond of (neither is sociology), and polygamy is one of its manifestations. To that end, monogamous relationships are also very problematic, hence we criticized relationships on the angle of patriarchy.

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