1) Recognise and describe the family as a social rather than a biological construct.
2) Recognise and describe intimate relationships as social constructs.
3) Demonstrate an understanding of sociological approaches to the family and intimate life.
Social Construction Theory and its Impact on Family
Social construction is actually a theory of understanding knowledge in communication and sociology theory which evaluate the development of shared construction of understandings of the world which form the basis for joint assumption about the reality. It is something that is present not in the objective reality, but as the result of human interactions. Families as asocial construction mean that family is the classification of the reality agreed upon by the members of the society. The definition reflects the ideologies or value system associated with positions in the power structure of the society (Doherty et al., 2009). It is classified into two different types: weak and strong social construct. Family as the social construct or structure is commonly taken for granted to mean a married couple with kids. For some people family is a father, mother, and kids; to other family is any union that includes respect and compassion. Some interactionists described that family is not a concrete reality or objective. Similar to another phenomenon it is the social construct which is subject to the flow of the social norms and the ever-changing meanings (Alexandra Beauregard, Ozbilgin, and Bell, 2009).
Considering the meaning of different other elements of the family father was previously a symbol of emotional and biological connection to the children's. With the more parent and children relationship progressing via adoption, change in guardianship, or remarriage, parent word is less common to be associated with a biological connection. The word father and mother are no longer correlates with the meaning of caregiver and the breadwinner. Some of the interactionists also identify how the status of the family role of every member is socially constructed, which can play an import role in how individuals perceive and assess social attitude or behaviour. The families are viewed as the group of actors or role players that act together in order to construct a family. Previously a good father was the person who worked hard to gain financial support or safety for his children. Nowadays a is considered good when he takes the time from his busy work schedule to promote the children’s skills in relation to social, intellectual growth, and emotional wellbeing. Some researchers describe marriage as the social construct. The family has been seen as the social group which is held together by a common goal or purpose (Almond, 2008). The distinction between the family and group and include 1; family members may be involuntary, and the link may be permanent, 2; the actions of the members' of family can be unseen, therefore there is a secure environment provided for the honesty and openness but also an atmosphere for dark activities like abuse, addictions, and neglect, 3; the group members can be more intensely attached via emotional ties, 4; the shared family paradigm, and 5; a frequent biological links which is not exist in other social; groups. The challenges families face in includes divorce and remarriages, stress among children of divorce and remarriage, violence and abuse, and domestic violence (Bengtson, and Allen, 2009)
Perceptions of Love and Intimate Relationships in Society
The way in which people perceive love in the society is completely constructed by the human population. Researchers have constructed what love should look like, feel like, and act like. People have convinced themselves selves that it is impossible to love two different people equally at the same time, that if people say they love one person that means they must never have the desire for another. People as a society now become self-proclaimed judges on the validity of others people’s love, a judgment they have no right to pass. They do not teach kids how to cry, what crying needs to look like or when this is appropriate. Why it is that kids and young people are being taught that intimate life should feel like a spark or the burst of energy, that loving two different people at the same time is unethical and hurtful, that the most strong and powerful expression of intimate life and love is life-long marriage? People have taken the feeling that needs to be organic and instinctual and they have delivered it a script and made it a specific choice. Because people have constructed the intimate life or love and the rules and regulations that go with loving an individual, it has now become a choice for people (Tiefer, 2018).
People need that a lover or two people in an intimate relationship must be devoted to each other, that their energy and time should be focused on pleasing their companion, that they become single and must sacrifice some parts of “single life” to maintain the happy and healthy relationship. Love is the socially constructed approach that has been changed and its role is improved in the society over time. Intimate relationships are not always been described as a link in the institution of marriage but also has become the driving motivation or encouragement and requirement within the Western culture or other cultures. Marrying for the sake of love became a prominent thing in the society in the starting and mid-1900s whilst females entered the workforce and after those no-fault divorces emerged, the divorces rates were increased. As the emotion became the common reason to get married, the loss of this specific feeling also became the reason for leaving the person. In love, experience is not the single reason for many divorces, however, loss of love feelings is becoming a most common factor, as loss of that feeling impact marriage, changes and determinants surrounding marriage can affect love itself (Soloski et al., 2013).
Marriage Customs Around the World
Conflict theory is one of the main theories that particularly useful for understanding: a person’s wealth and poverty, reasons of divorce, discrimination, harassment, forced sexual activities, child abuse, and so on. Conflict theory specifically claims that human society is in the state of perpetual issues and competition problems for limited resources (Huinink, and Feldhaus, 2009). Conflict Theory may predict that the people who have perpetually work to increase their personal wealth at the expense and some sufferings of those who have not (Morgan, 2014). This is considered as the power that competition is most commonly won by the wealthy people and lost by a normal or general person with common means. Power is an ability to gain what an individual wants to achieve even in the presence of an opponent or opposition. Authority can be described as an institutionalized legitimate power (Farrington, and Chertok, 2009).
Over the course of the history, intimate life and love have been expressed and shown differently all around the world. Displaying love is different which is based on the societal norms. Intimate relationships may include actions like kissing, hugging, emotional contact, sex, and companionship that play a key important role in happiness in the relationships. Different cultures of different societies have adopted new customs. For example, particularly in Japan, people show the affection are discouraged, and individuals believe in expressing their intimacy or love for their loved one in a specific way like packing their food for work. Specifically in France, people express their love by holding their hands together, kissing and starting physical relationships. In the United States there is a different approach to love. Some people believe in going with partners on love dates, having casual sex, and being open to meeting strange and new people on the social media sites or dating apps. The customs in the US are commonly more liberal than other countries of the world. The traditions of marriage are largely cultural as well (Rahman, and Jackson, 2010).
Marriage can take place when two different people love each other or fall in intimate relationships and decided to live their whole life together, even though it is not how this always happens. In the 19th century, the decision of marriage was used to made by the father or mother based on political or economic considerations. Particularly in India, the marriage arranged by parents or carers is still the part of their tradition or culture. Now elopement, also called love marriage, has now become dominant in some of the parts of India. Marriages in the parts of Japan are more liberal when have to choose those who they are going to marry. In the US, marriage customs are based upon on the person's roots and values. The wedding or marriage based on what each person believes is right. Arranged marriages in Japan would start with a courtship that would enable love to progress and would results in an arranged marriage (Hendry, 2010)
Society plays a key role in the way people see love depend upon social differences like gender, economic status, race, religion, ethnicity, and education. In today's society or community, there are various major factors that impact how love is perceived by people. The biggest impact that people see in today’s modern society is of social media sites and movies. Media impacts the expectations people have of what love or intimate relationships should be. Young people are the target population who are mainly impacted by an unrealistic approach of love that they see over and over in movies or films (Friedland et al., 2014).
Alexandra Beauregard, T., Ozbilgin, M., and Bell, M.P., 2009. Revisiting the social construction of family in the context of work. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24(1), pp.46-65.
Almond, B. 2008. Family: social construction or natural phenomenon? JSTOR, 97(285), pp. 29-43
Bengtson, V.L. and Allen, K.R., 2009. The life course perspective applied to families over time. In Sourcebook of family theories and methods (pp. 469-504). Springer, Boston, MA.
Doherty, W.J., Boss, P.G., LaRossa, R., Schumm, W.R. and Steinmetz, S.K., 2009. Family theories and methods. In Sourcebook of family theories and methods (pp. 3-30). Springer, Boston, MA.
Farrington, K. and Chertok, E., 2009. Social conflict theories of the family. In Sourcebook of family theories and methods (pp. 357-384). Springer, Boston, MA.
Friedland, R., Mohr, J.W., Roose, H., and Gardinali, P., 2014. The institutional logics of love: measuring intimate life. Theory and society, 43(3-4), pp.333-370.
Hendry, J., 2010. Marriage in changing Japan: Community & society (1st ed). London: Routledge.
Huinink, J. and Feldhaus, M., 2009. Family research from the life course perspective. International Sociology, 24(3), pp.299-324.
Morgan, D.H.J., 2014. Social Theory and the Family (RLE Social Theory) (1st ed.). London: Routledge.
Rahman, M. and Jackson, S., 2010. Gender and sexuality: Sociological approaches (1st ed.). UK: Polity.
Soloski, K.L., Pavkov, T.W., Sweeney, K.A. and Wetchler, J.L., 2013. The social construction of love through intergenerational processes. Contemporary Family Therapy, 35(4), pp.773-792.
Tiefer, L., 2018. Social constructionism and the study of human sexuality. In Sex is not a Natural Act & Other Essays(pp. 15-29). Routledge.