Discussion 6 Is There a Family?Prompt
Is there a family? What are the issues that Collier, Rosaldo and Yanagisako raise about the idea
of a universal family? How have Victorian ideas about family, gender and class shaped family
ideals? We don’t live in a Victorian era but why do you think these ideas have persisted for
centuries? What continuities do you see between this article and Tapia’s Impregnating images?
Emily Martin also elaborates on the science of reproduction. What does Martin observe about
science and gender ideals?
A. Evidence chart (write and relate column on
LEFT to Column on RIGHT)
Evidence from readings and clips: I saw, read,
heard (write some quotes/examples/illustrations)
Associations/critical thinking. This
made me think about…./I associated this
B. Provide a synthesis of what you learned, observed
and/or connected to previous readings.
How your discussion post will be graded:
How your discussion post will be graded:
Criteria for success
Three out More than
criteria not not submitted
1. Timeliness of post
2. Required length (500700)
3. Comprehension and
1. Read: Article by Collier and Rosaldo on understandings of family
2. Watch video: Emily Martin. Looking back: The Egg and the Sperm 2.0 (Links to an
Emily Martin evaluates what has been going on regarding the imagery of Egg and
Sperm in biomedical discourse for the past 30 years.
Purpose: Explore the particularities of “family” as an institution and how it is expressed
in our “modern” era. To say that families are part of the “modern” era is to highlight that
it is a recent institution. We will examine the discourse of science and biology (Martin’s
work) which began in the 1990s with her original observations about how science
describes reproduction to conform to specific gender, heteronormative ideas present in
Examine and reflect on kinship, reproduction and family structures.
Discuss a feminist critique of science discourse on reproduction.
Post to Discussion – How have ideas about family, gender and reproduction changed over
the past 30 years? Martin wrote the “The Egg and the Sperm” in the 1990s. How has the
media, education and other institutions responded?
Is there a family?
By Jane Collier, Michelle Z. Rosaldo and Sylvia Yanagisako
COLLIER, ROSALDO AND YANAGISAKO
Structure of the article
1. Examine Malinowski’s claim that family is a universal concept
2. Explore 19th century scientists and what they had to say about it – evolution
• Look at different cases of the family and its expression
3. Insight on market relations and how it structures thinking about The Family and
how it influences family ideologies
the institution of The Family, distinguished from actual families and their
ideological context (e.g. families in the 50s different than families in the 70s, 80s
What do we expect from families
Affinal – marriage, chosen connections
Expectations that our closes familial connections will
be with those we are genealogically related to
Variety of connections, including chosen ones
Families are cultural institutions
• What does Collier do?
• Examine Malinowski’s work on the family
• How it responds/interacts with 19th century science/paradigms
• Argue that the family is a concept specific to the modern state
• What we know as families has a specific __________________?
Let’s read this passage carefully
• Look through this passage and
highlight some key words and
phrases that suggest where the
author is trying to take us with her
Let’s do it together
• Special connections to their genealogically closest
• Cross culturally families vary
• Blinded to its various ideologies of intimate
• “faith in the “natural” source of a “nurture” we
think is found in the home
• Families exist in their historical context and what
we call natural or cultural is ideological!
• Let me add ideological to the key words
• Genealogical (biologically related, part of
In my own words:
• We tend to expect/believe that our closest family
relationships are those based on “natural” blood
ties. We are blinded to the ideological basis of
• Aha! This article reminds me of the nature nurture
debate and the way that women are tied to nature and
men to culture.
• Conjugal relations
• Aboriginal groups
• What rules do they have about
• Concern with the sexual
behavior soon gave way to
observations about children
having a recognized lineage
• Distinguish between coitus and
conjugal relationships – rules of
• Separating sexual behavior from
the question of marriage and
Hearth, shared fire, home
• Malinowski observed that aboriginal families shared a single fire.
• Long term and intimate association fostered emotional ties between
• In comparing English and aboriginal family experiences, what did he
note about emotional ties?
• Malinowski was a functionalist and he believed that institutions serve needs.
• Families serve a need but one problem with Malinowski’s work is that he did not
consider whether it was necessary to fulfill this need within a family and whether
it could be met otherwise (73)
• How do the authors critique his views on love as a reward for intimacy?
• Idea that the reward for raising children is love in old age
• But, is this the only way that it could happen?
• Malinowski talked about families ”sharing a fire” and living together which reinforces emotional ties
• However, emotional ties can occur without blood ties
• They can also occur outside the “home” or beyond the “hearth”
• Aside from oppositions between blood relatives and non-blood
relatives there is an emphasis in distinguishing home and market
• In Western societies undergoing industrialization:
• Home is love (love, mother)
• Market is commodification (father, provider)
• These are ideal types
• Where else have we read about this relationship of commodities and
market driving particular understandings of gender
• When did this structure of gender domestic/market or private/public
begin according to these authors?
• Why is it important to name the specific time frame?
• Make sure you pull the who, what and where and how of the article.
• Pay attention to examples
• What is the authors argument?
Changes in 40s and 50s gender roles
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