Us Family Structure Colonial Essay Research Paper

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Us Family Structure: Colonial Essay, Research Paper US Family Structure: Colonial to Domestic Structure The ideals of an American household from the late 18th century to the late 19th century shifts from a colonial to a domestic family. This is partially due to the change in economic and social conditions. European immigrants and middle-class white families conform to the new ideal, while other groups, such as the Native Americans, Mexicans, and African Americans, choose to live in alternative family systems. The dominant class also outwardly expresses their opinions towards these nonconforming groups. The ability of a group to assimilate to the domestic ideal is largely based on the economic and social status of the group. The dominant family system of the late 18th century

consists of colonial family ideology. In the late 1700 s the primary concept of a family is that of an organic and productive unit in which the father is the head with everyone having a significant and respected role. The perception of colonial family does not include intimate and emotional relationships amongst family members; rather the family is treated as more of a task-oriented functional system responsible for itself as a whole. Sometimes the family is even called its own little commonwealth (Morantz-Sanchez). The family is hierarchical with the husband as the head of the family and the woman being subordinate. However, the colonial man must govern his wife carefully and properly; the ideal family conditions include married couples are chase to one another. Professor

Ulrich, who studied this period by looking at court depositions, proclaims the woman as a deputy husband. This notion, along with the idea that each family member participates in task-oriented work signifies that while there may be a hierarchy all roles are respected. Furthermore, children, who are considered the responsibility of the family, have a short childhood ending at about the age of seven where they are then integrated into appropriate task-oriented roles. The family is a significant foundation of the late 18th century lifestyle; Historian and Professor John Demose believes families that went bad were a threat to the social community. There are a number of material conditions of family life that reflect the ideal American family of the 1790 s. The colonial home is not

only the emotional center of a family but also serves as a workplace, hospital, school, vocational training institute, old age home, and a place of worship. Small, one-room houses make it difficult to have private intimacy (Bloch). Families also require the support of children; boys help with fieldwork and girls with taking care of younger siblings. Colonial families average 6 to 8 kids, with the wife giving birth almost every other year until menopause. These conditions and ideals were dominant in the late 18th century, but with the arrival of new economic and social circumstances the concept of the ideal American family was transformed. Industrialization results in a direct effect on the roles and material conditions of individual family members. This economic change has a

drastic impact on women. Though women still stay at home, their previous manufacturing household tasks decline as result of the market economy; families do not need to produce cloth, butter, timber and other items that could be supplied for by the new economy. As the other responsibilities diminish, the role of the wife gradually becomes synonymous with child raising and child care. The man, who now entered the industrialized workplace, becomes associated with time-disciplined work in the public sphere versus the woman who is task-oriented in the private sphere . A new definition of work arises as that which is waged ; unfortunately, this implies that a woman s tasks do not qualify as work. Along with the economic changes, surges in the religious atmosphere also appear. The 19th