The Functionalist Perspective on Education

Socialization

According to functionalists, the socialization process is coercive, forcing us to accept to the values and norms of society.

Learning Objectives

Examine socialization in three ways – the functionalist perspective, and according to Merton and Parsons

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Structural functionalists view the socialization process as one where the values and norms of society are agreed upon by all members of society because there is a “social contract” in effect which protects us from one another and keeps society stable and balanced.
  • Socialization refers to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society.
  • The values and norms of society are agreed upon by all members of society because there is a “social contract” in effect which protects us from one another and keeps society stable and balanced.
  • Robert K. Merton coined the term “role model” and hypothesized that individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires.
  • The key processes for Talcott Parsons for system reproduction are socialization and social control.
  • Socialization is supported by the positive and negative sanctioning of role behaviors that do or do not meet these expectations.

Key Terms

  • Reference Groups: Groups to which a person may compare himself to.
  • social contract: An implicit agreement or contract among members of a society that dictates things that are considered acceptable conduct.

Socialization is a term that refers to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society. Socialization describes a process that may lead to desirable or moral outcomes. Individual views on certain issues, such as race or economics, may be socialized within a society.

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Toddler Socialization: Three-year-old female toddler showing signs of healthy socialization: Having lifted her shirt, she is concentrating on playing at attaching an under-nourished doll to her breast. Her sister is four months old and breast fed on demand.

Functionalist Perspective on Socialization

The Functionalist paradigm describes society as stable and describes all of the various mechanisms that maintain social stability. Functionalism argues that the social structure is responsible for all stability and instability, and that that the social structure is continuously attempting to maintain social equilibrium among all the components of society.

According to functionalists, the socialization process is coercive, forcing us to accept the values and norms of society. The values and norms of society are agreed upon by all members of society because there is a “social contract” in effect which protects us from one another and keeps society stable and balanced. People follow and accept the values and norms of society in order to maintain their own safety as well as maintaining social order.

Robert K. Merton

The term role model generally means any “person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others. ” The term first appeared in Robert K. Merton’s socialization research of medical students. Merton hypothesized that socialization happens when individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires. Beginning with Merton, sociologists call any group that individuals use as a standard for evaluating themselves and their own behavior a reference group. For example, an individual in the U.S. with an annual income of $80,000, may consider himself affluent if he compares himself to those who earn roughly $35,000 a year. If, however, the same person considers the relevant reference group to be those in the top 0.1 percent of households in the U.S., those making $1.6 million or more, then the individual’s income of $80,000 would make him or her seem rather poor.

Talcott Parsons

Talcott Parsons was heavily influenced by Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, synthesizing much of their work into his action theory, which he based on the system-theoretical concept and the methodological principle of voluntary action. The key processes for Parsons for system reproduction are socialization and social control. Socialization is important because it is the mechanism for transferring the accepted norms and values of society to the individuals within the system. Parsons never spoke about “perfect socialization”—in any society socialization was only partial and “incomplete” from an integral point of view. Socialization is supported by the positive and negative sanctioning of role behaviors that do or do not meet these expectations. A punishment could be informal, like a snicker or gossip, or more formalized, through institutions such as prisons and mental institutions.

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Socialization of Direct Marketing: The concept of socialization being used for advertising.

Cultural Transmission

Cultural transmission is the way a group of people within a society or culture tend to learn and pass on new information.

Learning Objectives

Analyze the importance of cultural transmission, particularly in terms of learning styles

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Learning styles are greatly influenced by how a culture socializes with its children and young people.
  • The process by which a child acquires his or her own culture is referred to as enculturation.
  • On the basis of cultural learning, people create, remember, and deal with ideas. They understand and apply specific systems of symbolic meaning.
  • A meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. ” The term was coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976).
  • Intercultural competence is the ability to communicate successfully with people of other cultures.

Key Terms

  • Intercultural Competence: The ability to communicate successfully with people of other cultures.
  • Cultural Transmission: The way a group of people or animals within a society or culture tend to learn and pass on new information.
  • Symbolic Meaning: Meaning that is conveyed through language; when one knows that X means Y.

Cultural transmission is the way a group of people or animals within a society or culture tend to learn and pass on new information. Learning styles are greatly influenced by how a culture socializes with its children and young people. The key aspect of culture is that it is not passed on biologically from the parents to the offspring, but rather learned through experience and participation. The process by which a child acquires his or her own culture is referred to as “enculturation. ” Cultural learning allows individuals to acquire skills that they would be unable to independently over the course of their lifetimes.

Cultural Transmission for Humans

Cultural learning is believed to be particularly important for humans. Humans are weaned at an early age compared to the emergence of adult dentition. The immaturity of dentition and the digestive system, the time required for growth of the brain, the rapid skeletory growth needed for the young to reach adult height and strength means that children have special digestive needs and are dependent on adults for a long period of time. This time of dependence also allows time for cultural learning to occur before passage into adulthood.

On the basis of cultural learning, people create, remember, and deal with ideas. They understand and apply specific systems of symbolic meaning. Cultures have been compared to sets of control mechanisms, plans, recipes, rules, or instructions. Cultural differences have been found in academic motivation, achievement, learning style, conformity, and compliance. Cultural learning is dependent on innovation or the ability to create new responses to the environment and the ability to communicate or imitate the behavior of others. A meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. ” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. The term was coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976).

Intercultural Competence

Intercultural competence is the ability to communicate successfully with people of other cultures. In interactions with people from foreign cultures, a person who is interculturally competent understands culture-specific concepts in perception, thinking, feeling, and acting. The interculturally competent person considers earlier experiences free from prejudices, and has an interest in, and motivation towards, continued learning.

The development of intercultural competence is mostly based on the individual’s experiences while communicating with different cultures. While interacting with people from other cultures, the individual generally faces certain obstacles, which are caused by differences in cultural understanding between the two people in question. Such experiences motivate the individual to work on skills that can help him communicate his point of view to an audience belonging to a completely different cultural ethnicity and background. For example, showing the thumb held upwards in certain parts of the world means “everything’s okay,” while it is understood in some Islamic countries as a rude sexual sign. Additionally, the thumb is held up to signify “one” in France and certain other European countries, where the index finger is used to signify “one” in other cultures. In India and Indonesia, it is often regarded as wishing “all the best.”

Academic Skills and Knowledge

In academia, an individual’s educational level and other academic experience can be used to gain a place in society.

Learning Objectives

Examine the implications of academia in society, especially in terms of structure, qualifications and academic capital

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.
  • Academia is usually conceived of as divided into disciplines or fields of study.
  • The degree awarded for completed study is the primary academic qualification. Typically these are, in order of accomplishment, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate.
  • In the United States, “professors” commonly occupy any of several positions in academia, typically the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, or full professor.
  • Academic capital is a term used by sociologists to represent how an individual’s amount of education and other academic experience can be used to gain a place in society.

Key Terms

  • Academic Capital: A term referring to how an individual’s amount of education and other academic experience can be used to gain a more esteemed place in society.
  • academia: The scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research, taken as a whole.

Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research. In Western Europe, universities were founded in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the European institution of Academia took shape. Monks and priests moved out of monasteries to cathedral cities and other towns where they opened the first schools dedicated to advanced study. In the United States, the term “academic” is approximately synonymous with that of the job title professor, although in recent decades a growing number of institutions include librarians in the category of “academic staff. ”

Structure

Academia is usually conceived of as divided into disciplines or fields of study. The disciplines have been much revised, and many new disciplines have become more specialized, researching smaller and smaller areas. Because of this, interdisciplinary research is often prized in today’s academy, though it can also be made difficult both by practical matters of administration and funding and by differing research methods of different disciplines. In fact, many new fields of study have initially been conceived as interdisciplinary, and later become specialized disciplines in their own right. On recent example is cognitive science.

Qualifications

The degree awarded for completed study is the primary academic qualification. Typically, these are, in order of completion, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate. In the United States, “professors” commonly occupy any of several positions in academia, typically the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, or full professor. Research and education are among the main tasks of professors with the time spent in research or teaching depending strongly on the type of institution. Publication of articles in conferences, journals, and books is essential to occupational advancement. As of August 2007, teaching in tertiary educational institutions is one of the fastest growing occupations, topping the U.S. Department of Labor’s list of “above average wages and high projected growth occupations,” with a projected increase of 524,000 positions between 2004 and 2014.

Academic Capital

“Academic capital” is a term used by sociologists to represent how an individual’s amount of education and other academic experience can be used to gain a place in society. The term originated in 1979 when Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002), a prominent French sociologist, used the term in his book, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. The book attempts to show how individuals are not defined by social class, but instead by their “social space,” which is dependent on each type of capital the individual has.

Much like other forms of capital, social capital, economic capital, and cultural capital, academic capital doesn’t depend on one sole factor but instead is made up of many different factors, including the individual’s academic transmission from his/her family, status of the academic institutions attended, and publications produced by the individual. Since Bourdieu first coined the term, it has been used widely to discuss many of the implications involved with schooling and the rise of individuals in academia. Numerous studies have been done involving the idea of academic capital, and scholars have disagreed on what counts as academic capital.

Bourdieu’s definition of the term is applicable to any individual. However, it seems that most references to academic capital point solely to professional teachers and researchers within higher education. For example, in 2009, Michael Burawoy defined academic capital as being estimated from an individual’s curriculum vitae, but admitted that it was subjective because some fields of study seem to value certain academic qualities more than others—research.

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Oxford University: Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research

Innovation

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas.

Learning Objectives

Compare the difference between innovation and invention, as well as the pros and cons of each

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.
  • Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.
  • In society, innovation aids in comfort, convenience, and efficiency in everyday life.
  • In the organizational context, innovation may be linked to positive changes in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitiveness, market share, and others.
  • When an innovative idea requires a better business model, or radically redesigns the delivery of value to focus on the customer, a real-world experimentation approach increases the chances of market success.
  • Once innovation occurs, innovations may be spread from the innovator to other individuals and groups. This process can be described using the “s-curve” or diffusion curve. This is known as the process of diffusion.

Key Terms

  • organization: A group of people or other legal entities with an explicit purpose and written rules.
  • business model: The particular way in which a business organization ensures that it generates income, one that includes the choice of offerings, strategies, infrastructure, organizational structures, trading practices, and operational processes and policies.
  • improvement: Increase; growth; progress; advance.

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of better and, as a result, a novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.

Due to its widespread effect, innovation is an important topic in the study of economics, business, entrepreneurship, design, technology, sociology, and engineering. In society, innovation aids in comfort, convenience, and efficiency in everyday life. For instance, the benchmarks in railroad equipment and infrastructure added to greater safety, maintenance, speed, and weight capacity for passenger services. These innovations included wood to steel cars, iron to steel rails, stove-heated to steam-heated cars, gas lighting to electric lighting, diesel-powered to electric-diesel locomotives. By mid-twentieth century, trains were making longer, more comfortable, and faster trips at lower costs for passengers

Organization

In the organizational context, innovation may be linked to positive changes in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitiveness, market share, and others. All organizations can innovate, including hospitals, universities, and local governments. For instance, former Mayor Martin O’Malley pushed the City of Baltimore to use CitiStat, a performance-measurement data and management system that allows city officials to maintain statistics on crime trends to condition of potholes. This system aids in better evaluation of policies and procedures with accountability and efficiency in terms of time and money. In its first year, CitiStat saved the city $13.2 million.

There are several sources of innovation. According to the Peter F. Drucker the general sources of innovations are different changes in industry structure, in market structure, in local and global demographics, in human perception, mood and meaning, in the amount of already available scientific knowledge, etc. When an innovative idea requires a better business model, or radically redesigns the delivery of value to focus on the customer, a real-world experimentation approach increases the chances of market success. Potentially, innovative business models and customer experiences can’t be tested through traditional market research methods. Programs of organizational innovation are typically tightly linked to organizational goals and objectives, the business plan, and to market competitive positioning. One driver for innovation programs in corporations is to achieve growth objectives. Once innovation occurs, innovations may be spread from the innovator to other individuals and groups. This process can be described as using the “s-curve” or diffusion curve. This is known as the process of diffusion.

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Innovation Diagram: Innovation 3D – The Innovation Triangle

Child Care

Child care involves caring for and supervising a child or children, usually from infancy to age thirteen.

Learning Objectives

Analyze the different types of child care in the United States, from parental care to center-based care

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • It is traditional in Western society for children to be taken care of by their parents or their legal guardians.
  • If a parent or extended family is unable to care for the children, orphanages and foster homes are a way of providing for children’s care, housing, and schooling.
  • The two main types of child care options are center-based care and home-based care.
  • Home-based care typically is provided by nannies, au-pairs, or friends and family.
  • In 1995, over thirty-six percent of families of preschoolers with working mothers primarily relied on child care in the home of a relative, family day care provider or other non relative. Almost twenty-six percent of families used organized child care facilities as their primary arrangement.

Key Terms

  • Home-based care: Child care that occurs in the child’s home as opposed to in a preschool or external institution.
  • Center-based care: Child care that occurs outside of the child’s home, such as in a preschool.
  • extended family: A family consisting of parents and children, along with either grandparents, grandchildren, aunts or uncles, cousins etc.

Child care involves supervising a child or children, usually from infancy to age thirteen, and typically refers to work done by somebody outside the child’s immediate family. Child care is a broad topic covering a wide spectrum of contexts, activities, social and cultural conventions, and institutions. The majority of child care institutions that are available require that child care providers have extensive training in first aid and are CPR certified. In addition, background checks, drug testing, and reference verification are normally required.

It is traditional in Western society for children to be cared for by their parents or their legal guardians. In families where children live with one or both of their parents, the child care role may also be taken on by the child’s extended family. If a parent or extended family is unable to care for the children, orphanages and foster homes are a way of providing for children’s care, housing, and schooling.

Types of Child Care

The two main types of child care options are center-based care and home-based care. In addition to these licensed options, parents may also choose to find their own caregiver or arrange child care exchanges/swaps with another family. In-home care typically is provided by nannies, au-pairs, or friends and family. The child is watched inside their own home or the caregiver’s home, reducing exposure to outside children and illnesses. Depending on the number of children in the home, the children utilizing in-home care enjoy the greatest amount of interaction with their caregiver, forming a close bond. There are no required licensing or background checks for in-home care, making parental vigilance essential in choosing an appropriate caregiver. Nanny and au-pair services provide certified caregivers and the cost of in-home care is the highest of child care options per child, though a household with many children may find this the most convenient and affordable option.

Child Care in the United States

State legislation may regulate the number and ages of children allowed before the home is considered an official daycare program and subject to more stringent safety regulations. Often the nationally recognized Child Development Associate credential is the minimum standard for the individual leading this home care program. Each state has different regulations for teacher requirements. In some states, teaching in a day care center requires an Associates Degree in child development. States with quality standards built into their licensing programs may have higher requirements for support staff, such as teacher assistants. And for Head Start Teachers, by 2012 all lead teachers must have a bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education. States vary in other standards set for daycare providers, such as teacher to child ratios.

According to the 1995 U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), over thirty-six percent of families of preschoolers with working mothers primarily relied on child care in the home of a relative, family day care provider, or other non relative. Almost twenty-six percent of families used organized child care facilities as their primary arrangement.

Postponing Job Hunting

Job hunting is the act of looking for employment, due to unemployment or discontent with a current position.

Learning Objectives

Examine the reasons why a person would job hunt and the common methods used

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • The immediate goal of job seeking is usually to obtain a job interview with an employer which may lead to getting hired.
  • Common methods of job hunting are finding a job through a friend or an extended business network, personal network, online social network service, or employment website.
  • Many job seekers research the employers to which they are applying. Some employers see evidence of this as a positive sign of enthusiasm for the position or the company.

Key Terms

  • outplacement: The process of helping to find new employment for redundant workers, especially executives.
  • social networking: The use of Internet communities to network and communicate using shared interests, related skills, or geographical location between consumers and businesses.

Job hunting is the act of looking for employment, due to unemployment or discontent with a current position. The immediate goal of job seeking is usually to obtain a job interview with an employer which may lead to getting hired. The job hunter typically first looks for job vacancies or employment opportunities. As of 2010, less than 10% of U.S. jobs are filled through online ads.

Common methods of job hunting are finding a job through a friend or an extended business network, personal network, or online social network service; using an employment website; looking through the classifieds in newspapers; using a private or public employment agency or recruiter; looking on a company’s web site for open jobs, typically in its applicant tracking system; going to a job fairs; using professional guidance such as outplacement services that give training in writing a résumé, applying for jobs, and how to be successful at an interview.

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Jobseekers in Ethiopia: Job seekers in central Addis Ababa, Ethiopia review advertised opportunities.

Many job seekers research the employers to which they are applying, and some employers see evidence of this as a positive sign of enthusiasm for the position or the company, or as a mark of thoroughness. Information collected might include open positions, full name, locations, web site, business description, year established, revenues, number of employees, stock price if public, name of the chief executive officer, major products or services, major competitors, and strengths and weaknesses.

Contacting as many people as possible is a highly effective way to find a job. It is estimated that 50% or higher of all jobs are found through networking. Job recruiters and decision makers are increasingly using online social networking sites to gather information about job applicants, according to a mid-2011 Jobvite survey of 800 employers in the U.S. Job seekers need to begin to pay more attention to what employers and recruiters find when they do their pre-interview information gathering about applicants, according to this 2010 study by Microsoft, “Online Reputation in a Connected World.”

Gatekeeping

Gatekeeping is the process through which information in publications, broadcasting, and the Internet is filtered for dissemination.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the concept and implications of the gatekeeping process and censorship

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Originally focused on the mass media with its few-to-masses dynamic, theories of gatekeeping also now include the workings of face-to-face communication and the many-to-many dynamic now easily available via the Internet.
  • Gatekeeping was formally identified in Kurt Lewin’s publication, Forces Behind Food Habits and Methods of Change (1943).
  • Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

Key Terms

  • information: Things that are or can be known about a given topic; communicable knowledge of something.
  • Gatekeeping: Gatekeeping is practiced by gatekeepers, people who control access to something, for example, via a city gate. In the late twentieth century, the term came into metaphorical use, referring to individuals who decide whether a given message will be distributed by a mass medium.
  • censorship: The use of state or group power to control freedom of expression, such as passing laws to prevent media from being published or propagated.

Gatekeeping is the process through which information is filtered for dissemination, be it publication, broadcasting, the Internet, or some other type of communication. As an academic theory, it is found in several fields, including communication studies, journalism, political science, and sociology. Originally focused on the mass media with its few-to-masses dynamic, theories of gatekeeping also now include the workings of face-to-face communication and the many-to-many dynamic now easily available via the Internet.

The Gatekeeping Process

According to Pamela Shoemaker and Tim Vos, gatekeeping is the “process of culling and crafting countless bits of information into the limited number of messages that reach people everyday. ” Gatekeeping as a news process was identified in the literature as early as 1922, though not yet given a formal theoretical name. Gatekeeping was formally identified in Kurt Lewin’s publication, Forces Behind Food Habits and Methods of Change (1943).

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Kurt Lewin: Lewin was an influential behavioral and organizational psychologist who proposed the Phases of Change Model.

Lewin identified several parts of the gatekeeping process in his 1943 article. These parts include:

1. Information moves step by step through channels. The number of channels varies and the amount of time in each channel can vary.

2. Information must pass a “gate” to move from one channel to the next.

3. Forces govern channels. There may be opposing psychological forces causing conflict that creates resistance to movement through the channel.

4. There may be several channels that lead to the same end result.

5. Different actors may control the channels and act as gatekeepers at different times.

Censorship

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body. It can be done by governments and private organizations or by individuals who engage in self-censorship. It occurs in a variety of different contexts including speech, books, music, films and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet. Censorship occurs for a variety of reasons including national security; to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech; to protect children; to promote or restrict political or religious views; to prevent slander and libel; and to protect intellectual property.

Replacing Family Functions

Family types that are replacing the traditional nuclear family include single parent families, cohabitation, and gay and lesbian families.

Learning Objectives

Examine the different types of families and the changing face of family roles

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Single parent families usually refers to a parent who has most of the day to day responsibilities in the raising of the child or children who is not living with a spouse or partner, or those who are not married.
  • Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an intimate relationship, particularly an emotionally and/or sexually intimate one, on a long-term or permanent basis.
  • Gay and lesbian couples are categorized as same sex relationships. In 1989 Demark was the first nation allow same sex couples to get married to provide equal rights to all citizens.
  • Singlehood is a family that contains a person who is not married or in a common law relationship.

Key Terms

  • cohabitation: An emotionally and physically intimate relationship that includes a common living place and which exists without legal or religious sanction.
  • Single Parent Families: Families in which the children are primarily raised by one parent rather than by both parents.
  • singlehood: The state of being single (unattached or unmarried).

The sociology of the family examines the family as an institution and a unit of socialization. Sociological studies of the family look at demographic characteristic of the family members: family size, age, ethnicity and gender of its members, social class of the family, the economic level and mobility of the family, professions of its members, and the education levels of the family members.

Current Studies

Currently, one of the biggest issues that sociologists study are the changing roles of family members. Often, each member is restricted by the gender roles of the traditional family. These roles, such as the father as the breadwinner and the mother as the homemaker, are declining. Now, the mother is often the supplementary provider while retaining the responsibilities of child rearing. In this scenario, females’ role in the labor force is “compatible with the demands of the traditional family. ” Sociology studies the adaptation of males’ role to caregiver as well as provider. The gender roles are increasingly interwoven.

Alternate Family Forms

The number of married couples raising children has decreased over the years. In Canada, married and common law couples with children under the age of 25 represented 44% of all families in 2001. This statistic has lowered since 1991, when married and common law couples raising children under the age of 25 represented 49% of all Canadian families. There are various other family forms that are becoming increasingly common.

A single parent family usually refers to a parent who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in the raising of the child or children, who is not living with a spouse or partner, or who is not married. The dominant caregiver is the parent with whom the children reside the majority of the time; if the parents are separated or divorced, children live with their custodial parent and have visitation with their noncustodial parent. In western society in general, following separation a child will end up with the primary caregiver, usually the mother, and a secondary caregiver, usually the father.

Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an intimate relationship, particularly an emotionally and/or sexually intimate one, on a long-term or permanent basis. Today, cohabitation is a common pattern among people in the Western world. More than two-thirds of married couples in the U.S. say that they lived together before getting married.

Gay and lesbian couples are categorized as same sex relationships. In 1989, Demark became the first nation to allow same sex couples to get married. After this, many nations, such as Canada and Spain, began to allow same sex marriage. Some states in the United States have changed their laws to allow same sex marriages, but 30 states have yet to amend their laws.

ACLU Freedom Files: Lesbian & Gay Parents | Florida: “Freedom to Parent: Lesbian & Gay Families” shows how bans on adoptions and fostering by same-sex couples end up hurting thousands of children who are desperate for good homes. The program looks at the impact of a Florida law that prevents needy children from being adopted by loving gay families.

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Lesbian Couple: Gay and lesbian couples are categorized as same sex relationships.

A singlehood family contains a person who is not married or in a common law relationship. He or she may share a relationship with a partner, but lead a single life style.