SOCY 305- Week 3- Brooke W

Part 1: 

When defining family, Hattery and Smith offer a variety of definitions that encompass a broad range of family structures, offering a specific definition with which a broad range of people can claim. My personal association with the word family most closely relates to the fifth definition: “Family is a set of people whom you love.” Though this seems excessively general at first thought, I relate to this the most because my family are the only people who I can love in a certain unconditional way. For example, there is nothing my family has said or done that caused me to voluntarily lose contact with them for a long period of time out of spite. Regardless of intense arguments or hard times, I am always interested in having a relationship with them. Of course, I do love the close friends that I have in my life, but I would be inclined to cut ties with those relationships much quicker than family if I felt as if they were becoming increasingly negative or unhealthy. Therefore, I believe that I only love my family in this unconditional respect.  

“Family is a set of people with whom you share social, physical, and/or financial support” is a definition that I realized I don’t like, because I feel like this can apply to any close friend or partner regardless of how much you love them. The version of family that I related to the least is “people with whom you live with”, because many people that I associate with including myself do not live with the people they would consider to be their family. Even within some homes of biological family members I believe that an individual may not consider them to be family solely for that reason if someone else has supported and loved them more throughout their life.  


Part 2: 

Race has been a social construct long throughout history as we look at hierarchies throughout Europe, and colonization of cultures all around the world. Vox’s 11 Ways that Race Isn’t Real first mentions that “Americans embraced the idea of race to make slavery okay.” I believe that this is true for many countries, because slaves were mostly chosen based on societies definition of an inferior race, or by levels of wealth. Race has no biological basis, because it is defined by stereotypical characteristics attributed to our idea of a specific group of people. In reality, the people who are biologically tied to a race have physical characteristics that vary from those stereotypical attributes. An example of race being socially constructed is seen when we look at Europeans pre-Industrial Revolution compared to after. Before thousands of European immigrants came to America there was a hierarchy based on different ethnicities, and certain nationalities within Europe were socially seen as superior to others. Once immigrants from nations all over Europe came to this country for the Revolution, they primarily identified as white and people of color then became inferior with the rise of slavery. Another example is when people ask me “what are you?” Throughout my entire life I have been asked what specific country I am from, because some members of society do not understand how someone with a deep skin tone can have non-stereotypical African- American facial features. When I say I am black, I am often met with looks of confusion or lack of satisfaction in my answer, which shows that there was an expectation of certain characteristics. Clearly race is a social construct, because there is much confusion when someone does not look like the most socially prevalent members of their race.

 This photo explains how race causes some of the largest consequences in our world, but the phenomena is not concrete by any scientific means.  


Here is a photo of set of twins born in the UK who, despite their physical appearance, share replicas of the same DNA. This is an example of how science is not able to explain why certain people are born with specific features. Du to the differences in their looks, one is often viewed as white and the other as black.


Part 3: 

The three theoretical frameworks are the strength approach, sociology pathology approach, and the race, class, and gender paradigm approach. The strength approach focuses on the resilience of black families at different stages. Robert Hill is the theorist who describes how “blacks constitute adaptations necessary for survival and advancement in a hostile environment.” Strong kinship bonds, strong work orientation, and the adaptability of family roles are all elements of the strength approach.  

Durkheim is a prominent social pathology theorist, and this approach is attributed to the black family due to the nature of African American history and the sociological effects that are left as a result. Essentially, this theory describes how social factors such as higher incarceration rates, discrimination, old age, and poverty lead to social disorganization within a community. Many elements of this disorganization are inherited and subconscious, which make it especially difficult to overcome these faults as a group. 

Lastly, the intersectionality of race, class, and gender form a paradigm that describes how each factor affects spaces in society and result in different yet related inequalities. This theory originated in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and as cultures attempted to assimilate to the highest structures they are often met with various short comings in relation to race, class, and gender. The framework that I like the most is the strength approach, because it talks about positive attributes within the black community despite all the negative events that have occurred throughout history. 

Part 4:  

A prominent social issue facing black families today is the rate of intimate partner violence amongst black women. Black women are killed at higher rates than any other race in society, and this issue takes more lives than that of HIV/AIDs. The media makes it very evident that it is less of a tragedy in society when black women go missing, especially compared to their white counterparts.  

The race, gender, and class paradigm can very effectively approach this issue, because the value of women is already seen as lower than men socially. A woman of a lower class is seen on an even lesser scale, so when you add the racialized component of what it means to be a black woman it becomes evident why society seems to not even bat an eye at this social issue. Throughout slavery black women were seen as jezebels and inseminated in inhumane ways, and it seems that the disrespect that was born in that era has had longevity throughout history since that time period.  

This same idea can be used by the social pathology theory. Elements of the disorganization in regard to black women and how she was stripped away from her family then bought by men who would abuse and rape her have scarred the group as a whole. Even if an individual has not encountered any of this in her personal life, the rates of violence against black women show how society views her and even within the black community these behaviors have persisted as black women assimilate to being able to join the work force and accumulate wealth for themselves.  

The strength theory can explain the resilience of black women throughout troubling times, and even as these boundaries are placed it seems that black women still find ways to overcome and have been making strides in education as well as the work force.  

Race, class, and gender approach would be the best in described this social issue. It looks at the intersectionality of the problem, and helps discover which attributes cause society to treat individuals worse than others.