families and households key terms

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Birth rate

The number of live births per thousand of the population per year

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A socially defined age-status. There are major differences in how childhood is defined, both historically and between cultures. Western societies today define children as vulnerable and segregate them from the adult world, but in the past they were part of adult society from an early age. These differences show that childhood is a social construction

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Conjugal roles

The roles played by husband and wife. Segregated conjugal rolesare where the husband is the breadwinner and the wife is the homemaker, with leisure spent seperately. In joint conjugal roles, husband and wife each perform both roles and spend their leisure time together

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Death rate

The number of deaths per thousand of the population per year

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Domestic labour

Work performed in the home, such as childcare, cooking, and cleaning. Functionalists see it as part of the expressive role performed by women, while feminists regard it as a major source of womens oppression

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Dual burden

When a person is responsible for two jobs. Usually applied to women who are in paid work but also responsible for domestic labour

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Empty shell marriage

A marriage in name only, where a couple continues to live under the same roof but as seperate individuals. It may occur where divorce is difficult for legal,religious or financial reasons

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Paying workers less than the value of their labour. According to marxists, it is the process whereby the bourgeoisise extract surplus value or profit from the labour of the proletariat. Feminists see men as exploiting the domestic labour of women

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Expressive role

The caring, nurturing, homemaker role in the family. Functionalists argue that women are biologically suited to performing this rople, but feminists reject this

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Extended family

Any group of kin (people related by blood, marriage or adoption) extended beyond the nuclear family. The family may be extended vertically (e.g. grandparents) horizontally (e.g. aunts, unlces, cousins), or both

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Family diversity

The idea that there is a range of different family types, rather than a single dominant one. It is associated with the postmodernist idea that in todays society, increasing choice about relationships is creating greater family diversity

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Family practices

The routine actions through which we create our sense of 'being a family member', such as doing the shopping or the DIY. Morgan prefers the term to that of family structure because it conveysthe idea that families are not things, but what their members of society actually do

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Family structure

The composition of a group of people who live together as a family unit. Structures include the nuclear family, extended family, reconstituted family, lone-parent and same sex families

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Fertility rate

The average number of children women will have during their fertile years. For statistical purposes this is defind as age 15-44

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A group of people who live together and share things such as meals, bills, facilities or chores, or one person living alone

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Infant mortality rate

The number of infants who die before their first birthday, per thousand live births per year

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Instrumental role

The breadwinner or provider role in the family. Functionalists see this as the mas role

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Life expectancy

How long on average people who are born in a given year can expect to live

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Movement; change of position. Sociologists distinguish between geographical mobility, in which people move from one place to another and social mobility, in which they change position or status in a hierarchy or stratification system. Functionalists argue that the geographical and social mobility of the nuclear family enable it to meet the needs of industrial society

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Nuclear family

 A two- generation family of a man and woman and their dependant children, own or adopted

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Privatised family

A nuclear family whose lifestyle and leisure patterns centre on the home rather than the extended family, workmates or wider community. 

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Reconstituted family

A stepfamily, in which one or both partners has children from a previous relationship

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The decline of religion; the process whereby religious beliefs, practices and institutions lose their importance or influence; e.g. fewer couples noe marry in church and many people disregard religious teachings on issues like divorce, homosexuality etc.

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Symmetrical family

Young and Willmott's stage three privatised nuclear family with more equal and joint conjugal roles, in which the husbands particiapte in domestic labour as well as being breadwinners, and wives go out to work as well as being homemakers. The couple spend their leisure time together and are more home centered

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