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moderated by Phil Bartle, PhD

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Contributions will be added to the top of this collection as I receive them

So how do we use the family in various contexts, especially as an adjective to modify other words? Why does "in the family way" for example, mean that a woman is pregnant?  Why does "Family entertainment" imply that it does not have any reference to sex and therefore is suitable for children to watch?  Why is a "family pack" necessarily big? Extraordinarily, why does the term "family values" evoke such strong right wing values? Think of other examples.  Further, ask why is the word "family" used in that way? What does it imply?

From Phil
One of the most pernicious examples of the misuse of the word "family" is the phrase "family values," used by the fanatic religious right, to include a set of ideologies that support their conservative bias.

Date: Tue, 18 Jan
From: Sian M
Hello... Siamese Fighting Fish group here.  We consist of seven people:
Sian M, Renee P, Angie C, Sebastien T, Nick G, Paula C and Agatha G.
We discussed what we felt were the implications, hidden values and hidden agenda of a mafia family.  Our group decided that some of the implications of being in "The Family" include the fact that all the members must take risks on behalf of the family.  Being a part of a mafia family is a lifelong commitment.  If someone were a part of a family and wanted to leave they would likely be killed by the family.
However, in return for loyalty the family offers it's members protection and a family-like environment that they may be lacking in their life.  By being involved with the mafia the members are often required to participate in illegal activities.  Furthermore, in order to be invited into the family a person must prove themselves worthy generally by partaking in illegal activities.  Those who are fortunate enough to be born into the family and also wish to be a part of the organized crime are often shown favoritism because they are blood relatives of those in higher positions.  For example, the son of the Don may be more likely to be accepted into the family with less effort.  Mafia families are patriarchal, corrupt and symbolize strength.  The agenda of a Mafia family is to gain power over the members of the group and over other mafia groups.  The family also aspires to gain wealth and control.  The Mafia family provides it's members with a protection and a pseudo-family environment and in return the members help the family to achieve their goals.

Date: Mon, 17 Jan
From: susan w
Dr. Phil,
I hope I'm not getting this to you too late. I don't remember you asking for it by a specific time, and I would have got it to you sooner, except that I unexpectedly did not have access to a computer over the weekend. If it's a problem, blame me, not the group. They're good fish. :)

* * * * *

Our adjective was Values:
Family Values can be defined as:

  • the values shared by a family

  • the values passed onto you by your family

  • multi-generational

  • valuing your family: implying bonds; a connection to one another

  • specifics such as: traditions, keeping your family name, pride, respect, principles, standards, desirable qualities, culture, language, land, a family tree

Family Values can impact:

  • a person's actions

  • a person's beliefs

  • cohesion in the family when values clash

  • your decision making process

  • in either a positive or negative manner, depending on the priorities of the values

Family Values are important because:

  • they shape who we become

  • they give us a basis from which all other personal growth develops or fails to develop

* * * * *

I hope this is somewhere along the lines of what you were after. If you'd require any further detail, we're happy to talk it over some more. We had wanted to continue further in class.
Susan W, Scribe - Angelfish
*** Group has been sent carbon copy ***

Date: Sun, 16 Jan
From: allison m
We (Sturgeon) had "Family Entertainment" as our words and we came up with some interesting things.  Mainly that there is a lot of extra "baggage" that goes with the sentence.  The major one that stood out is that is predefines what a "family" is.  It was really interesting.

  • If it was a family movie it would be a G rated movie.

  • Non-interactive, passive: movies, TV, going to a restaurant,

  • Tension and Chaotic

  • Moralistic

  • Trite

  • Family Sports Stuff, the kids are all on the team.

  • Games

  • Arcade

  • Have to have children.

  • Stereotype of Family.

  • Heterosexual

  • Reading out loud.

  • Media definition of family and what you should be doing with your family.

  • Both parents must be working and the time has to be 'made' for children.

  • Materialistic Guilt Factor

  • Food Centered

Date: Sun, 16 Jan
From: "erin t."
hey Dr. Phil,
this is erin once again. (of the Koi group)
you gave us the term "family size" I hope we did this right.
So we listed what we thought are common perceptions when people heard these terms (they are not necessarily ours)
Religion often seems to correlate with family size. For instance, Catholics and Mormons tend to have larger families.
Statistics suggest that industrialized, "modern" societies have lower birth rates, and smaller families. This leads to assumptions that smaller families are somehow more "advanced" and that larger families are "parochial." This also relates to cultural differences because more rural cultures have traditionally needed larger families to tend to the farm. Those of us in more "developed" countries find it hard to understand why impoverished people continue to have larger families, only furthering their need.
Also, many just assume that poor people having many kids must be "stupid" because they fail to take effective birth control methods, and make little attempt at understanding the larger societal explanations.
Culture explanations explain the relatively small families in North America. For instance, many consider the "american dream" (also the "canadian dream" for many) to include the typical suburban life, a couple of cars, a dog, and two kids (a boy and a girl) This is not often reality, but instead the perception of north american culture.
Anyways...that's what we came up with. I hope we were on the right track there. Hope your weekend is going well.
erin (the scribe)
"When freedom is outlawed only outlaws will be free" -tom

Date: Fri, 14 Jan
From: Naomi D
Family Car
Some of the implications that were brought up with the idea of as "family car" revolved around ideas like schedule conflicts, to arguments with teenagers whether they get to use the car or not. Another interesting thought was that of the effects of advertisements on us and what we consider a family car. Not just what kind of car, but what the family is supposed to be and look like. Never once have we seen a minivan commercial depicting a gay couple and their kid driving along to the theme song "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom". Another idea was that family cars represent class status in that not all families own a car. A family must have enough income in order to maintain the costs of a car.
When we visualize a family car we see, bumper stickers, baby on board signs, and shade visors stuck to the windows. We also see them as mini-vans or volvo station wagons. Maybe some writing in the dusty car door panel saying "wash me". Some recall being threatened some day that this car may be their car, passed on to them as a valuable family heirloom.
No matter how you look at it, the "family car" caters to a certain group of people, and is not sought after by all.

Date: Fri, 14 Jan
From: "Heather G"
Our two words for today's assignment, were "Family Way."  Here is the list of implications and/or assumptions we made when thinking of these word's combined meaning.
1)-unwed mother
-"end of the line," next comes marriage, other options are gone (school, career, etc)
-without a partner
-generally negative implications
-questionable financial security
-single parent living with family
-disapointed or they are a disapointment
-an older term (mid-west, Dr. Quinn: "Medicine Woman,")
-used instead of the word pregnancy (dirty conotations)
2)-one's direction towards a family
This was an interesting task since many of us had not heard of this phrase before and had little to say until one of the other team members mentioned reading a book where "Family Way" was used to politely describe a young, expecting mother, out of wedlock.  This immediately changed the focus of our discussion and took up the bulk of our time.
Hope you have a good weekend!

Date: Fri, 30 Jan
From: "Amel A"
Subject: adj for family... sorry i took so long

  • family pack

  • family night

Date: Fri, 30 Jan
From: "Telia H"
Subject: word family as an adjective

Sorry for the lateness, i'm guess you're used to that from me:

but here are some ways "family" is used as an adjective :

  • "family time"

  • "family room"

  • "family size/ family pack/family special"

  • "family car"

  • "family show"

cya tomorrow!

Date: Wed, 28 Jan
From: "Clara S"
Subject: family as an adjective

Dear Dr. Phil,

Here are some phrases that use "family" as an adjective:

  • the "family room" of a house

  • the family jewels (euphemisn for testicles)

  • "family pacs" of food (like those huge boxes of cereal)

  • family-run business

  • family car

A few of these seem to indicate the size a family should be.

Clara S

From: "Jason D"
Subject: Research Project Topic
Date: Tue, 27 Jan

Hello Doctor, its Mike S. I almost forgot to give you a sentence with the word "family" in it so here ya go-"Dogs are part of the canine family." (I don't know if thats scientifically 100% accurate, but it illustrates a use of the word.)

From: "Malava N"
Subject: Soc 160 / Family as an adjective.
Date: Mon, 26 Jan

Here are a couple of contributions for the blog:

  • family affair

  • family size

Date: Mon, 26 Jan
From: "Kim"
Subject: family in other sources (soc 160)

Doctor Phil and class
The only things that I could think of that the word family is an adjective would be:

  • 1) Criminal organisations usally refer to them selfs as family.  I think that this would have started because extended families were the organsation. (eg.several Italian mob families)

  • 2) I have also heard groups of immigrants refer to themselfs as family.  The ties may not be blood but their community is so close because of ethnic ties which may be a minority where ever they are.

  • 3) Is the phrase "she is setling down and having a family".  This generally means that the woman is going to get married and have kids.  This statement is also out of date.  Two reasons: the first being that setling down means that she was wild and unsettled before.  Second, males can have kids now thanks to adoption and other methods.

Other than those I can't think of any.
anyone else with some?

From: "Marcello S"
Subject: SOC 160
Date: Sat, 24

  • family fun nights and

  • family fun centers....

Cheerio, Cornflakes, and Cocoa Puffs .....
Momo (Marcello)

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