Models of the Family in Modern Societies
The book Models Of The Family In Modern Societies: Ideals And Realities by Catherine Hakim discusses problems and changes affected modern families, and concentrates on the European type of a family. The book is based on surveys collected in two European countries, Britain and Spain. Still, the author addresses the problems of families in the USA and Canada. The book consists of 9 chapters devoted to different issues and social transformations. Hakim argues that the modern family has changes its nature and philosophy. Today, men and women become equal in earning and home duties, child care and breadwinning. The interdependence of work and family, production and reproduction, stands out clearly when seen in a sociohistorical perspective. When industrialization separated workplaces from homes, it gave rise to a new family type: the mother-and-breadwinner family. When the need for labor and the movement for women’s emancipation returned married women to gainful employment, a new transformation of family patterns was ushered in: the two-breadwinner family. both family and working life have changed character: to a growing extent family life has become isolated from the functional contexts of work. Ideologically, the family as an institution has come to compensate with individual solicitude and love for the impoverishment and bureaucratization of working life. This meant that, while men’s vocational roles were undergoing a specialization and social stratification that was carried to great lengths, the role of mothers remained more or less traditional.
In the introductory part of the book, Hakin familiarizes readers with such concepts as life style choice and family dynamics, and outlines the main ideas of the book. The second chapter of the book describes minimalists approach in research and the survey results obtained in Britain and Spain. Also, Hakim addresses the questions of personal preferences and public opinions.
In the third chapter, “Patriarchy, ideal family Model and Work Organization”, Hakim claims that men become caretakers looking for their kids while a wife earns money. In other words, the expectations put on mothers did not appreciably differ from one social milieu to the next. If anything, the conditions of motherhood became homogenized in that middle- and upper-class mothers lost their domestic servants and were forced to perform chores which they used to supervise, while working- class mothers achieved a higher level of living and were advised to abstain from drudgery in the service of others. Consequently, it is the father’s contributions which give rise to different family situations. The role of a modern woman has changed: (1) wives and mothers have extremely specialized and highly diverse vocational roles and working conditions. Such variations lead to important differences in the family lives of these wives. (2) Society’s transformation from patriarchy to equality has resulted in special strains and conflicts for fathers. (3) wives and mothers determine the family’s social position and the children’s “ascriptive status” in society. Wives and mothers pose a more obvious risk factor for the family. The father’s influence in the family comes “from outside,” from the job world and the rest of society. For many decades, then, the man was the crucial link between work and family. The work determined both the family’s level of living and the division of labor between the spouses; consequently, his position holds center stage for family policy, which focuses primarily on equality among children from families with different incomes levels and on equality between the sexes.
The forth chapter discusses sex roles ideology and ideological influences on family life. Hakim proves that all family policy dedicated to social equality must confront the tension between the goal of family policy, which is to create good nurturing patterns for all children, regardless of background, and the incentive structure of the labor market, which presses for performance and efficiency by means of pay differentials. According to a historical code, the man is responsible for the family. This patriarchal principle still helps form the breadwinner’s sense of honor. Many men are convinced that it is up to them to provide for their wives and children and to answer for the future and security of their families. This code is most obvious in the sense of failure most men feel if they cannot give their families the security or the material standards they would like. This self-undertaken commitment to the breadwinning role often goes hand in hand with a conviction that one has thereby done one’s bit. We see this attitude in men who literally exhaust their energies on the job. Some of them, moreover, suffer work-related injuries. For them the home is the fruit of their labors, the place where they are entitled to relax.
The fifth and sixth chapters discuss employment structure and its impact on life style and relations inside family. Using examples of Britain and Spain, Hakim writes that the wife’s wages makes things easier for the husband or for the family: men of insecure status on the labor market are relieved of responsibility and anxiety; husbands have been able to take employment at lower pay in the home town now that the family earns two incomes; families with weak breadwinners have been given a new kind of economic security; men have been able to cut down on or abstain from their moonlighting; families have been able to buy their own homes; women have been able to obtain divorces to sever marriage ties which for years have had a destructive impact on the family. But many men find it hard to cope with such role changes because they have based their self-confidence on the very aspect that is being changed. The men feel they are threatened by some mysterious force. Many women, on the other hand, do not take their breadwinning role in complete earnest. Work gives them variety, social stimulation, and money they can call their own. Some women, like the one quoted above, may tone down their breadwinning effort out of deference to the man’s self-esteem.
The last three chapters analyze political, social and religious changes, and housing problems in Britain. The author finds that many women apparently look on themselves first and foremost as mothers and wives. In general, women’s attitude toward the labor market may be described as a desire to combine parenthood with gainful employment. As a rule they do not see homemaking and paid work as alternatives to one another; on the contrary, they are oriented both toward work and toward home.
The information presented in the book will help me to understand family relations and structure of modern life style in other countries. It is very important for a sociologist as social changes and transformations inside the family are a direct result of economic and social shifts. Family is an important social institution which has a great impact on social relations and society in general. Using the institution of family only, it is difficult to analyze and evaluate social problems and their causes, but it is possible to distinguish between emerging and the latent social problems and their impact on a family unit. Latent social problem are difficult to distinguish, but they have a great impact on emerging social problems and can become a result of emerging problems. The main difference between emerging and latent social problems is that emerging problems are easy to recognize while latent problems are not apparent. Latent social problems can exist for many years having long-term consequence on individuals and society, but remain hidden and undetectable. Social stress leads to such emerging social problems as alcoholism and drug abuse, family violence and suicides, run away from home and poor family relations. The problem is that stress, as a social problem, is difficult to determine and prevent. It may arisefrom job related or personal factors and can be psychological or physiological. Job related factorscould include shift work, difficult jobs, too much travel or overtime, job insecurity and unsatisfactory family and gender roles. The consequences of these include: dissatisfaction, accidents and absenteeism. Personalfactors that may produce stress include ageing, low self-esteem, impatience, fear of failure. To some extent, these problems can be described as the latent social problems rejected by society as important ones. It is difficult to identify the latent problems, their causes and consequences in order to develop a set of actions to eliminate their impact on society in general. Emerging social problems influence society and safety of population and require immediate actions to be made. The information presented in the book will help me to structure my further life and academic research in sociology.