The Historical Making of Family Diversity


I. INDUSTRIALIZATION AND FAMILY LIFE A. Macro Structural Transformations The decade before the Civil War was a crucial transitional period and with it came sharp distinctions between the middle-class and the industrial working class. The concepts of social production and social reproduction refer to the two forms of work in the new economy. In middle-class families, men engaged in productive work and women engaged in social reproductive work in the home.

B. Work and Family in Industrial Society 1. The Doctrine of Two Spheres A sharply divided gender system accompanied rising affluence and the separation of production from the household. Men occupied the public sphere of economic affairs, women became guardians of the private shpere of the home. The Cult of True womanhood ideology sharpened class distinctions among women, elevating the status of middle-class women as poor and immigrant women were becoming factory workers.

2. Women and Industrial Work Despite the prevailing ideology about women’s place in the private sphere alone, 19th century working class women engaged in both social production and social reproduction. Low income family life required cooperation and sharing between the sexes and generations.

3. The Family Wage Only women whose husbands could support a household with a family wage could be domestic caretakers. The family wage was limited to White men. Young people, women, and men of other racial groups were excluded from earning a wage sufficient to support a family.

4. Childhood and Adolescence A change in attitude toward children and their needs accompanied the emergence of separate spheres. As industrialism advanced, the distinct life-cycle stages of childhood and adolescence were recognized. Parenting in middle and upper-class families involved preparing boys for labor market success and girls for marriage. Children from poor and farm families continued to be economic assets contributing to family survival.

C. The Flexibility of Household Composition While households after 1830 tended to be nuclear, households expanded and contracted in accordance with family needs. Families often took in nonkin lodgers as a response to economic need. Close kinship ties persisted although extended kin did not share households.

II. IMMIGRATION AND FAMILY LIFE Two massive waves of immigration have been documented in the U.S. Between 1830 and 1882, large numbers of English, Irish, German, and Scandinavian immigrants arrived; southern and eastern Europeans arrived between 1882 and 1930. Immigration was primarily a response to economic expansion in the U.S. and economic dislocations in Europe. Immigrant labor was crucial to the industrialization of the United States.

A. The Social Breakdown Perspective Early studies focused on the social breakdown of traditional family life caused by migration. This perspective contains oversimplification and error. Revisionists focus on differences among immigrants as well as different structural conditions in the receiving communities. These conditions produced unique outcomes for specific groups and their families.

B. industrial Work and Immigrant Families The family was a vital resource in adapting to the new society. By “chain migration,” immigrants encouraged other family members to migrate and helped them shift to industrial work. Families sometimes adapted to the new industrial setting by sending children out to work. This survival strategy, based on the family economy tradition, illustrates how families were active agents in shaping their own lives.

III. RACIAL CONTROL AND FAMILY LIFE A. Changing Frameworks for Thinking About Minority Families When society holds one type of family as normative, racial ethnic families who do not meet that ideal are viewed as deficient, as backward, as products of ethnic lifestyles. Rather than looking at cultural factors to explain family differences, new research investigates how families are connected with larger social and economic forces.

B. Macro Structural Connections Between Race, Labor and Family Life The presence of racial ethnic groups in the U.S is tied to the demand for labor. Racial ethnics contributed their labor to the building of the agricultural and industrial base, but were excluded from industrial jobs that were accessible to European immigrants. Blauner suggests an internal colonialization model to explain the incorporation of racial ethnics into U.S. society. The subordinated labor status of racial ethnics cut them off from institutional and social supports provided other families. Minority families could not embrace the doctrine of two spheres because women’s productive work was necessary for family survival. Families adapted and continued, despite enormous burdens placed on families by the racial labor system.

C. Black Families in Slavery and Freedom Adaptation, resistance, and agency are key themes in recent research on Black families. Two parent households prevailed both during slavery and after emancipation. The main reason for family breakup during slavery was forced separation following sale.

1. Work and Gender The gender system under which slaves worked was imposed by Whites, yet different from the mainstream. men and women were laborers; much of the plantation work was gender typed. Slave women were responsible for the domestic care of their own families, and often for the owners’ families as well. Communal childcare arrangements resulted in women being accountable for one another’s children. male slaves were denied manhood in the public sphere, but were not completely undermined. Gender relations were more egalitarian in slave families than in White families.

2. Kinship Kinship networks were crucial in retaining family integrity, and were recreated among unrelated slaves when slavery separated particular families. It was illegal for slaves to marry, but many established permanent unions. Values of marriage relations remained even after slavery destroyed marriages.

D. Chicano Families in the Southwest. With the end of the Mexican-American War, Mexicans became foreigners in their own land. The U.S. takeover disrupted traditional family life through land displacement of the indigenous people, new laws, and new labor systems. Rapid economic growth set up a pattern of recruitment of new Chicano workers from Mexico by U.S. economic interests.

1. Family Structure Patterns of migration created considerable transience in the Chicano population and contributed to increasing numbers of female-headed households. Extended family networks were crucial in dealing with migration and in reinforcing Mexican customs and values. Mexican familism took several forms and served many purposes. The compadrazgo system of godparents is an example of an adaptation to a largely inhospitable environment; the system of godparents allowed parents to provide an additional layer of economic and social support for their children.

2. Work and Gender Chicano family roles were strongly gender typed in the nineteenth century. divisions began to break down as economic hardship forced women and children into the labor force, particularly as agricultural workers. Despite their productive labor, Chicanas had heavy domestic responsibilities for the care of husbands and children. Notwithstanding much adversity, Chicanos maintained viable families with strong cultural traditions.


Which of the following is not a key theme of this text in the historical study of 
a.  Uneven change
b.  Family breakdown
c.  Diversity.
d.  Human agency

Social reproduction refers to
a.  the number of children that are born into a household.
b.  the work of caring for families in the home.
c.  the ways that families make a living.
d.  the ways that familis deal with economic hardships.

Which of the following would not be considered a virtue of True Womanhood?
a.  Piety 
b.  Purity
c.  Assertiveness
d.  Domesticity.

According to the text, by the end of the 19th century which new life stage emerged
a.  Adolescence.
b.  The empty nest.
c.  Retirement.
d.  Puberty.

What percentage of the overall United States labor force was foreign-born in 1910?
a.  10%
b.  43%
c.  25%
d.  50%

The Moynihan Report, which was published during the 1960's,
a.  concluded that the main problem facing Blacks was the Black family.
b.  viewed the Black family as an adaptive institution.
c.  concluded that social problems facing blacks had little to do with famly structure.
d.  found that Black families were more stable under slavery than previously believed.

after emancipation, the two-parent household was the dominant Black family form
a.  in the rural South.
b.  in the urban North.
c.  in rural and urban areas of the North.
d.  in all regions of the country, rural and urban.

Patterns of Chicano migration to the American Southwest were largely initiated by
a.  the desire of migrants to find agricultural work.
b.  the recruitment of Mexicans to provide labor for U.S. economic expansion.
c.  the Chinese Exclusion Act.
d.  all of the above.

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