家庭, 社會

【Q筆記】什麼是家庭?

Photo by Robert S. Donovan (CC 2.0)
Photo by Robert S. Donovan (CC 2.0)

摘要+不負責任評點:

本篇是從敝人系上的知名教授John Daly 和Mark Knapp所編輯的The Sage Handbook of Interpersonal Communication 一書、第20章中擷取出來的內容。(註:原本誤植為Anita Vangelisti編輯的The Routledge Handbook of Family Communication)

主要是在說,家庭真的很複雜、真的很多元,提供了可以回應「維護傳統家庭價值」這類看法的論點。

節選段落包含:從學界三種常見定義「家庭」的方式——分別是按照結構、功能、或者交換的內容來定義家庭(按照邏輯就是第二種比第一種好,第三種又完勝,這樣),然後討論了在美國也有「我們一定要維護傳統家庭價值(握拳)!」的這種事,最後提供了一些研究的成果來回應。

這篇內容雖然是以美國的資料為主,但是其中有關家庭的定義和爭議,都跟台灣近年來多元成家和反對方(如:護家盟)提出的論點,以及對性教育的討論都很有相關性。

中文翻譯後面有英文全文,中間如果看到「…」不是因為我無言了,而是有刪掉一些文字的意思。文末有APA citation以及文獻,送給茫茫學海中的同行們。

images-5I・家庭的定義

家庭以不同的方式影響著人類,在生物、心理、社會、政治、以及法律層面上都帶有複雜交錯的關係。因此,「家庭」這個複雜的社會概念,經常被相關人士激烈地辯論著,是一點也不令人意外的。在過去幾十年來,由於重大的社會轉變,使得學者開始檢視那些曾經被視為「與生俱來」的家庭特質,有關家庭定義的辯論也因此變得更加熱烈。事實上,這些有關家庭的改變是如此的明顯,以至於許多學者現在避免將「家庭」(family)作為一個單一結構來討論,而是用複數型態來討論家庭 (families),以避免影射某種特定單一的家庭樣態(Fitzpatrick, 2006)。

家庭的轉變以及過去幾十年對家庭定義的辯論,使得任何一種定義都無法使真正客觀地或科學中立地呈現「家庭」的樣子。…根據 Wamboldt and Reiss (1989),目前對於家庭的研究大致有三種定義家庭的方式:1)家庭結構觀點,2)任務取向觀點,3)交換過程觀點。

(1) 家庭結構觀點

家庭結構指的是誰屬於此家庭範圍內、誰在其外,以及在內的家庭成員彼此有什麼樣的關係…以結構來定義的家庭,帶著預設的明確條件來決定誰是家庭的一員,並且依照性別和年紀在家庭內訂出階級制度,比如爸爸的管教,媽媽的養育,祖父母給予家庭歷史感受。

以結構來定義家庭是很有問題的,因為這暗示了結構決定溝通行為,但這個假設並沒有得到實證研究結果的支持。…此外,如高離婚率、人工生育科技、以及漸漸轉變的性別規範等社會轉變,使得純粹以結構來定義家庭顯得非常狹隘。舉例來說,在2008年,只有大約 70% 的小孩住在有雙親的家庭裡,也只有不到 60% 的小孩是與其在婚姻關係裡的生父生母同住(Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2009)。

家庭實在是變得太多元,以至於無法用任何簡單結構來描述。…雖然依結構來定義家庭有這些明顯的問題,大部分的家庭研究依然用「家庭戶」或「核心家庭」來作為研究的操作定義。這個趨勢一部分是出於方便——要界定誰跟誰住在一起是較容易的。另外,結構式的造作定義可以避免在統計上,因為不同的家庭成員存在或者缺席,或因為不同的家庭成員的集散而產生統計上的混淆。[註一]

4.560
「你有聽說過多緣成家的法案嗎?」(圖片截自動畫辛普森家庭)

(2) 社會心理任務取向觀點

第二種分類,是根據特定家庭任務是否被執行來定義(Wamboldt & Reiss, 1989)。在這種定義中,家庭被認為是一群由心理及社會因素原因組成的兩人(或以上),而他們一起執行一些任務,比如滿足彼此需求、撫養、個人成長等等。任務取向的定義通常把焦點放在描述家庭的功能。

符合社會心理任務取向的家庭定義的一個例子,就是將家庭定義為一個接受養育小孩的社會單位(Lerner & Spanier, 1978)。在這個定義裡,家庭是由小孩、以及接受照顧小孩責任的大人們組成的,不管是一個還是多個大人、不管這些大人有沒有婚姻關係、也不管這些大人是不是被照顧的小孩之生父母。因此,在社會心理任務取向的家庭定義裡,結構並不重要,被強調的是功能。

社會心理任務取向的家庭定義有一個明顯的優勢——包容性,尤其是對於非傳統家庭的包容。另外,強調功能,就可以明確地將焦點帶到家人做的事情上,例如他們如何跟彼此溝通。…這類的定義明顯的缺點就是定義的模糊,尤其是當考量到對家庭功能的貢獻,不一定需要有長期關係的時候。比如說,週末來家裡拜訪的朋友可能會幫忙照顧小孩…音樂老師可能會幫助小孩增加自信,但是很少人會有強烈地認為這些人是家人。

(3) 交換過程觀點


最後一種對家庭的定義,將重點放在交換的過程裡。家庭被定義成一群親近的人產生了家的感受以及一個共同身分,他們有強烈的忠誠度和對彼此的情緒,並且有共同的過去和未來 (Wamboldt & Reiss, 1989)。…關係被形容成親密的;也就是說,共組家庭的一群人的特色在於相互依賴、彼此承諾,以及親近的觀感和時間的穩定性。

因此,這個定義就像任務取向的家庭定義,一樣強調功能,但是結構並沒有被忽略,而是存在於耐久的親密關係裡面;功能則是一群人共同的產物,而非單一的個人角色的產物。因此,管教和養育是家庭成員彼此溝通的結果,而非僅僅來自於家長的行為。…另外,交換過程觀點的定義強調家庭身分的建立是透過溝通建立起來的。這個家庭的特色可以從 Reiss(1981)稱作「家庭範例」的概念來理解,也就是家庭透過他們持有的世界觀來理解周遭環境給的訊息。

從溝通的角度看來,交換過程觀點的優點包括它對溝通過程的強調、對家庭結構的彈性,以及對家庭關係相互依賴性的重視。…然而,交換過程觀點的其中一個弱點,在於概念的相對模糊…這些模糊起源於家庭可以自主界定誰是家人,但是卻沒有一個統一的條件來決定這件事情。比如,在什麼點上一段關係會被認為夠親密、有足夠的共同過往和未來,因此能被視為某種親屬連結?

比起另外兩種對家庭的定義觀點,交換過程觀點有兩個優點。第一,交換過程觀點強調溝通是家庭成員相互依賴與承諾的重要工具,也是家庭成員形成忠誠羈絆、共同身分、過往與未來的重要方法。第二,這個定義將現代社會中許多不同的家庭的樣貌包含進去,因為交換過程觀點的定義允許家庭自己定義自己,而非用社會、法律、或基因作為基礎。

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咩~~~~~~~ 

II・這些轉變對家庭的意義是什麼?

在大眾文化和學術研究中,時不時就會有會有人告誡,要對明顯不斷惡化的家庭做些什麼才行。比如1990年代早期,對於家庭現況的擔心,反映在當時的選舉中,競選承諾包括要重建家庭價值;有些家庭研究學者則認為由於美國家庭的沒落(Popenoe, 1993)而「天要塌了」(Cowan, 1993, p.548).[註2] 其他學者則回應道,家庭的轉變並非本質上有問題,對於家庭轉變的疑慮,是偏好過於僵固的家庭規範的結果。

近期,類似的辯論以稍微不同的用詞又重新浮現。Waite and Gallagher (2000)主張傳統的異性戀婚姻對於男性和女性有其特殊的好處,讓他們更快樂又更健康。Waite and Gallagher的分析得到了一般民眾的大量關注,讓人覺得重新振興傳統婚姻是非常重要的。

但是很多學者質疑 Waite and Gallagher (2000)所指的好處並不是專屬於傳統異性戀婚姻的。DePaulo and Morris (2005)認為婚姻本身並不是關鍵,擁有一個令人滿足又歷久的關係才是重點,而這樣的關係很多單身的人也可以建立(尤其是女性)。其他學者則認為傳統婚姻是父權制度的產物,雖然對於女性有經濟上的優點,但是卻對她們身心全面的健康有害。

對於過去的家庭樣貌有著過於樂觀的想像,明顯地阻礙在家庭轉變的議題上做有建設性的討論。歷史學家已經讓我們明白到,懷念其實從來不曾存在的佚失的家庭傳統,讓我們對於現代家庭的理解中帶有偏見(Coontz, 2000a)。因為缺乏正確的歷史觀點,以及對於過去的家庭問題的否認和壓制,我們對過去的家庭遇到的困難,比如亂倫和暴力,在理解上受到嚴重的阻礙。

非常明顯地,很多人對於過去的家庭有著誤解。例如,小孩現在前所未有的大量接觸性知識,是一個普遍的疑慮,但是其實在美國,從殖民時期到18世紀,小孩是時常暴露於這樣的訊息中的。比如說,在殖民時期,小孩時常都是跟還在從事性行為的父母睡在同一張床的(Gadlin, 1977)[註3]。

跟自己小孩解釋「生小孩」這件事。小弟快崩潰XD [註4]

家庭一直以來都是有問題的,所以當我們在評估家庭的轉變時,很重要的是必須把現在的家庭狀態跟過去真正的家庭狀態相比——而非拿來跟一個過於浪漫化、從不存在的家庭相比。

[註1]:雖然會造成統計上的困擾被認為是這些定義的「缺點」,但是這也僅是量化研究學者和post-positivism後實證主義的觀點。質性研究學者則會認為,這樣有彈性、從人出發的定義,有助於我們了解lived experienced(活過的經驗)的複雜性,較符合constructivism結構主義,feminism女性主義,和interpretivism解釋主義的觀點。

[註2 ]:請看參考文獻Cowan (1993)條目。

[註3]:當代美國中產階級認為小孩要跟父母分房睡。

[註4]:截圖來自這個讓家長對小孩解釋「小孩哪裏來的」這件事的影片,美國俚語用the birds and the bees來代稱。圖中是一對女同志家長。

I. Definitions of Family:

Family affect humans in a number of ways, with important biological, psychological, social, political, and legal ramifications. Thus, it is no surprise that “family” is a highly complex and multifaceted social concept that frequently are hotly contested by various stakeholders. Debates over the definition of family have become even more contentious over the past few decades as major change in society has led scholars to question what were once presumed to be inherent properties of “the family.” Indeed, the changes in families have been so salient that many scholars now avoid referring to “the family” as a singular institution, instead referring to families in plural so as not to imply one particular type (Fitzpatrick, 2006).

Given the changes in families and the debates over how to define the concept of family, no definition of family can be truly objective or scientifically neutral…Following Wamboldt and Reiss (1989), three classes of definition of the family can be identified in the extant research on family: (1) family structure, (2) task orientation, and (3) transitional process.

(1) Family structure


Family structure refer to who is in or out of the family and how family members are related to one another…Family structure definition presuppose clear criteria for membership in the family and often identity hierarchies within the family based on sex and age. In addition, specific functions are associated with specific family roles, such as discipline with fathers, nurturance with mothers, and creating a sense of history with grandparents.

[S]tructural definitions are problematic because they imply that family structure determine communication behaviors, an assertion not supported by empirical data…In addition, social changes such as the high divorce rate, artificial reproduction technologies, and changing gender norms are marking definitions of the family based solely on structural characteristics rather exclusive. For example, in 2008, only bout 70% of all U.S. children lived in two-parent household, and fewer than 60% lived in households together with their married, biological parents (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2009).

Family have simply become too diverse to be described by any simple structure definition (Galvin, 2006)…Despite these obvious problems with structural definitions, much family research still use “the household” or “the nuclear family” to operationalize the family. This trend is partly due to convenience; it is fairly easy to determine who lives with whom.

(2) Psychosocial task orientation

The second class of definition is based on whether certain tasks associated with family are performed (Wamboldt & Reiss, 1989). In these definitions, a family is a psychosocial group consisting of two or more members who work toward tasks such as mutual needs fulfillment, nurturance, and development. Task definitions are usually concerned with describing functions of the family.

A good example of a psychosocial task definition defines the family as the social unit that accepts responsibility for the socialization and nurturance of children (Lerner & Spanier, 1978). In this definition, a family consists of children and the adults who take responsibility for caring for them, regardless of whether there are one or more adults, whether the adults are married to one another, and whether the adults are the biological parents of the children. Thus, in psychosocial task definitions, structure is ignored but function emphasized.

Inclusiveness, especially of nontraditional families, is an obvious strength psychosocial task definition. Additionally, the emphasis on function clearly leads to a focus on what families do, such as how they communicate with one another…An obvious weakness of psychosocial task definitions are the fuzzy boundaries around the concept, especially given that contributing to the functions of a family does not require lengthy relationships. For example, a family friend visiting for the weekend might provide nurturing to a child…and a music teacher instill self-confidence, yet few would feel compelled to consider these persons to be family.

(3) Transactional process definitions


A final class of definitions of the family gives central importance to transactional processes. A family is defined as a group of intimates who generate a sense of home and group identity, complete with strong ties of loyalty and emotion, and an experience of history and a future (Wamboldt & Reiss, 1989). [R]elationships are described as intimate, that is, they are characterized by interdependence, commitment, a perception of closeness and temporal stability.

Thus, like psychosocial task definitions, function is emphasized, but unlike psychosocial task definitions, structure is not ignored. Rather, structure exists in the form of enduring, intimate relationships, but functions are properties of the group rather than individual family roles. Thus, discipline and nurturance, for example, result from the way families communicate with one another rather than only from the behaviors of a parent.

In addition, transactional definitions are concerned with the sense of family identity that is created through communication. This attribute of a family is captured by the concept that Reiss (1981) has called “family paradigms,” or the worldviews that families hold affecting how they process information from the surrounding environment.

From a communication perspective, the strengths of transactional definitions include emphasis on communication processes, flexibility regarding family structures, and emphasis on interdependence in family relationships…One weakness of transactional definitions, however, is the relative fuzziness of the conceptual boundaries…The fuzziness arises from families’ ability to determine membership for themselves and from the lack of unequivocal criteria for family. For example, at what point does a relationship become intimate enough and have enough sense of a shared history and future that it counts as a form of kin?

The transactional definition has two advantages over the other two approaches. First, the transactional definition of the family places a very strong emphasis on communication as the major vehicle in establishing levels of interdependence and commitment, forming ties of loyalty and identity, history, and future. Second, this definition can encompass the many forms of modern family life because this approach allows families to define themselves rather than basing the definition of the family on socio-legal or genetic criteria.

II. What do the changes in the family mean?


Both in popular culture and in scholarly literature, there are periodic exhortations to do something about the ostensibly deteriorating family. Inevitably, some scholars respond with argument that the various changes are not necessarily negative. In the early 1990s, for example, worries about the state of family were reflected in political campaign promising to reinstitute family values, and some family scholars argued that “the sky is falling” (Cowan, 1993, p.548) because of the downfall in the American family (Popenoe, 1993). Other responded that the changes in families are not inherently problematic and the concerns about such changes reflect biases toward overly rigid structural norms for families (Stacey, 1993).

More recently, the same kind of debate has resurfaces using slightly different terms. Waite and Gallagher (2000) argued that traditional heterosexual marriage has unique benefits for both men and women, making them happier and healthier. Waite and Gallagher’s analysis received extensive attention in popular outlets, contributing to a sense that bolstering the institute of traditional marriage is extremely important.

Yet many scholars question whether the benefit of marriage are unique. DePaulo and Morris (2005) suggested the key is not marriage, per se, but having fulfilling and enduring relationships, which, they argue, many single people (especially women) are able to develop. Others argues that traditional marriage is a patriarchal institution that makes sense financially for women but typically undermines their overall well-being (England, 2001).

One obvious impediment to constructive debate on such issues is the extent to which they are informed by overly positive perceptions about what families were like in the past. Historians have shown us that nostalgia for a lost family tradition that has never existed has prejudiced our understanding of the contemporary family (Coontz, 2000a). Our understanding of family difficulties in the past, such as incest or violence, is severely hampered by a lack of accurate historical perspective and the strong tendency in the past to deny or suppress real problems in families (Gorden, 1988).

[I]t is exceedingly clear that many people have misconceptions about families from the past. For example, one common concern is the supposedly unprecedented exposure that children have to information about sex, but from a colonial period in the United States to the 18th century, children were regularly exposed to such information. In colonial families, for example, children often shared a bed with sexually active parents (Gadlin, 1977)…Families have always had problems, and it is important when assessing the meaning of changes in families to compare the modern state of families with what families were actually like in the past— not a romanticized version of families that never existed.

APA citation:

Caughlin, J. P., Koerner, A. F., Schrodt, P., & Fitzpatrick, M. A. (2011). Interpersonal communication in family relationships. In M. L. Knapp & J. A. Daly (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Interpersonal Communication (pp. 679-714). New York, NY: Sage Publications.

References: 

Coontz, S. (2000a). Historical perspectives on family studies. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(2), 283-297.

Cowan, P. A. (1993). The sky is falling, but Popenoe’s analysis won’t help us do anything about it. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 548-553. [註1] 篇名有需要這麼酸嗎XD

DePaulo, B. M., & Morris, W. L. (2005). Singles in society and in science. Psychological Inquiry16(2-3), 57-83.

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2009). America’s children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2009. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Fitzpatrick, M. A. (2006) Epilogue: The future of family communication theory and research. In L. H. Turner & R. West (Eds.), The family communication sourcebook (pp. 491-495). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gadlin, H. (1977). Private lives and public order: A critical view of the history of intimate relations in the United States. In G. Levinger & H. L. Raush (Eds.), Close relationships: Perspectives on the meaning of intimacy (pp.33-72). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Lerner, R. M. & Spanier, G. B. (Eds). (1978). Child influences on marital interactons: A life-span perspective. New York: Academic Press.

Popenoe, D. (1993). American family decline, 1960-1990: A review and appraisal. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 527-542.

Reiss, D. (1981). The family’s construction of reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Waite, L. & Gallagher, M. (2000). The case for marriage: Why married people are happier, healthier, and better off financially. New York: Doubleday.

Wamboldt, F., & Reiss, D. (1989). Task performance and the social construction of meaning: Juxtaposition normality with contemporary family research. In D. Offer & M. Sabshin (Eds.), Normality: Context and theory (pp. 2-40). New York: Basic Books.

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