A social-conflict and feminism perspective:
The institution of marriage
Sociology 1010 A
Tutorial #1- Alesha
November 7, 2011
Marriage is known as an intuition that is based on love and commitment. It’s acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture and the country one lives in. People marry for many reasons, such as financial, emotional, social, and religious. These might include arranged marriages, family expectations and economic inheritance. “Viewing the symbolic-interaction approach, society is a result of people’s everyday interactions.
This theory includes how people define and shape reality during social interaction.
Feminism, which is similar to the conflict theory, is a point of view that focuses on the rights of women equal to those of men” (Macionis and Gerber, 2011, p. 15). By looking at these types one can determine how marriage and family life exploits and oppresses women. It is clear that there is a division in marriage between women and men. Traditional old generations tend to carry the idea that women are expected to be housewives allowing the men to labour in the workforce.
However, conflict theorists and feminists disagree with this and view that the nuclear family benefits all in society. This paper will discuss an analysis of the institution of marriage from the theoretical perspective: feminism and social-conflict.
It will compare and contrast gender roles, why couples get married, and why couples divorce. Symbolic Interactionism sees society consisting of symbols that are used by people to create meaning of the world and also communicate with one another. It tries to examine peoples face to face communication and how they work with relationships to make sense of life. When people have symbolic interaction, they interact with each other by understanding actions of other people instead of acting upon them. Marriage/family is important for sharing beliefs and values with everyone. In a family, one main factor that symbolic interactionism deals with is the analysis of role conflict in the marriage.
It looks at how gender role formations affect the definitions of spousal roles, for example a women staying home taking care of the children and house needs and the man going to work to provide the income. This kind of situation may see normal but when the woman speaks out to the husband that she wants to work too, the man may replay in a different tone. Verbal conversations, serve as prominent symbols because the words that the sender and receiver are communicating with each other can either be positive or negative. Conversation is an interaction of symbols between individuals who voice out their emotions. Majority of the time the man will make the women feel inferior and helpless when he talks over her in a forceful tone. This is un-expectable in a marriage, where there should be compromise. Additionally, a symbolic theorist looks at why couples get married by understanding the symbols they include in their marriage based on culture and preference.
For example, symbols in a marriage may include wedding bands, vows of a promising commitment, a white beautiful bridal dress, a Church ceremony filled with friends and family, an elegant tall wedding cake, flowers and music. Many people attach several different meanings on these symbols, it all depends on your culture and promises between the couple. The couple may not always being marring for love also, but for economic, inheritance, religious etc. On the other hand looking at these symbols says otherwise to the public eye. Lastly, the symbolic interaction perspective can also help to explain why marriages fail and lead to divorce. “Sometimes, divorced spouses cite miscommunication as a reason for separation. According to sociologists, miscommunication is the natural result of symbolic interaction” (Farley, 2011).
A healthy, successful marriage can only be achieved if there is proper communication on both ends and share similar interpretations of symbols, without it the marriage is heading towards a disaster. Basically, this structural theory looks at issues in the divorce from a micro perspective. It looks for the problems between the two individuals rather than society in general. Symbolic theorists would assume that the two individuals have been influenced by family and friends to take on the matter of divorce and end the marriage for good. All things considered symbolic interaction may miss the larger issues of society by focusing too closely on marriage but this perspective helps to see the social issues on individual institutions.
Furthermore, to continue with the analogy where women are equal to men generally speaking is a false perspective regarding marriage. Feminists analyse how young girls tend to grow up with a fairy-tale that you find that one spouse with who you are entirely compatible with, the person that will you grow old with and share life through the good and the bad. A person who you trust, depend on, whom you have fallen in love with and cannot imagine living one second without them (Fowler, 2007, p. 1). This perception is still in the media today, especially on television shows, religion and family expectations. Reality is that, women may find their prince in shining armour but has to deal with being a domestic slave in the household under a financial hold of your husband. Traditional gender roles where the man is the breadwinner and the women is the homemaker, makes marriage a complete downfall for women.
It is evident in a feminists view, that women are oppressed by men because men cannot respect and understand the independent rights they have. “Women today in society are still treated as unequal by being paid less than men in the workforce, lower positions in the mass media, not rewarded enough for their domestic deeds etc. This gender inequality needs to stop sooner or later; it’s unfair, unjust and not right” (Thompson and Walker, 1995). Likewise, feminists also look at reasons why couples do get married. Usually, couples marry for the reason being that they are in love with one another; they want to share a lifelong companion, and have realistic plans together in the future. Unfortunately sometimes due to religion, ethnics or family expectations, women do not have the choice of their husband and it is chosen for them. Women want to marry someone who will appreciate their life goals, either it is to have a family or succeed in their career.
They want to idea that women are only good in the kitchen to be washed away, and lucky thanks to society me are starting to realise that and appreciate women. Pursuing this even further, many women when they get married are starting to keep their maiden name instead of changing their names upon marriage. Over the years the social pressure for women to change their last name has lessened, but still exists (Goldin and Shim, 2004). Society needs to understand that women are becoming as important as men in society as years pass, and deserve to keep their maiden for personal and professional reasons. Lastly, to conclude this argument of marriage on a feminist perspective it should be noted their view on divorce. A feminist would analyze the divorce systematically on the woman’s position rather than the man’s position. For example, if the man in the marriage was abusing the woman, and the woman finally had enough had enough to end the marriage, feminists would argue that the divorce for her safety.
However, predominately many feminists believe divorce is a positive thing where female single parenting is better than nuclear families. This makes sense because the majority of the time at the end of divorce the women usually receives full custody of the children rather than the man. This may causes dilemmas later on though in the children’s education without a proper understanding of a nuclear family. In any case this sums up the argument on feminism of marriage and how society should change views on women, realizing they are just as important too. Finally, one can see from above the similarities between the two social structures of Symbolic Interactionism and Feminism. Even though they are both different ideas they can relate on the topic gender roles very clearly. The other two topics: reasons why couples get married and divorce have views that emphasize on the intuition of marriage.
Focusing on the intuition of marriage these two theories agree that the gender roles and roles in the household affect the relationship between the couples. If a man constantly views his wife as a slave to the house and maid to his personal needs, he will start to treat the women as if she is a slave. This is unmoral to a woman because she is not a slave but a human being just like any other man. Symbolic integrationists say that communication is the key to dealing with problems. On the other hand, feminists say that it’s society’s fault why men have these perceptions of women being perfect and relying on a man. If society was to continue viewing women as an independent, professional, successful person maybe the majority of men will change for the better. In conclusion, Social Interactionism and Feminism are both interesting theorises that focuses on the institution of marriage.
As discussed clearly above it has compared and contrasted the gender roles, reasons why couples get married, and couples divorce. It can now be fully understood that women are being oppressed by men. It also doesn’t help when the media gives awful perceptions of a perfect woman, when in reality that doesn’t exist. Still today, there is a division between women and men in society and that’s unfortunate for how much advanced we are in other ways. Clearly people need to open their eyes to a new and more equal society. It would change lifestyles, the economy, media and much more. By looking at these two social structures it is evident how inequality is still among us.
1. Farley, A. (2011, August 01). What is the symbolic interaction perspective in divorce? read more: What is the symbolic interaction perspective in divorce?. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/info_10017957_symbolic-interaction-perspective-divorce.html 2. Fowler, A. (2007). Love and marriage: Through the lens of sociological theories. Human Architecture, 5(2), 61-72. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/210142740?accountid=15182 3. Goldin, C., & Shim, M. (2004). Making a name: Women’s surnames at marriage and beyond. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(2), 143-160. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/212079417?accountid=15182 4. Macionis., & Gerber, (2011). Sociology. (seventh ed.). Toronto, Ontario : Pearson Canada Inc. 5. Thompson, L., & Walker, A. (1995). The place of feminism in family studies. Journal of Marriage and Family, 57(4), 847-847. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/219745862?accountid=15182
Cite this A social-conflict and feminism perspective: The institution of marriage
A social-conflict and feminism perspective: The institution of marriage. (2016, May 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-social-conflict-and-feminism-perspective-the-institution-of-marriage/