Higher Education

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Film Clips, Chapter 1

Part I

Following Albanese’s brief analysis of her own family structure in the introduction to Chapter 1, this exercise encourages students to think of their family relationships in terms of the “oddities that make up everyday life” (p. 2). Family photos help do this by providing a space to reflect.

A father–daughter bond, one photo at a time

TED talk by Steven Addis, 3:38

In this TED talk, “A father–daughter bond, one photo at a time” Steven Addis points out that photographs allow us to “freeze time” and “tak(e) an active role in consciously creating memories.”

(Re)touching lives through photos

TED talk by Becci Manson, 9:49

In this second TED talk, Becci Manson details her volunteer work in retouching photos found after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011. These retouched photos helped survivors cope by restoring some of their family memories.

How photography connects us

TED talk by David Griffin, 14:57

Rather than speaking of family photos in this third TED talk, David Griffin, photo director for the National Geographic, discusses the power of photography to “create a visual narrative” and help in confronting issues or documenting trends.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Choose or create a family photograph and reflect on the emotional significance and meaning it has for you. Explain how it illustrates your family relationships (or not).
  2. Describe how your chosen photograph illustrates any of the trends in Canadian family life that Albanese notes in Chapter.
  3. Choose an old photograph from your own family album (or from someone else’s) and place it in historical context. Explain how it illustrates a family trend that was current when the picture was taken (see Chapter 2 by Commachio).
  4. Explain why documentation through photography adds to our understanding of social trends and contexts. How might family photographs be misleading or biased at times?

Part II

Wade Davis: Dreams from Endangered Cultures

TED talk, 22:05

Though Davis’s research focuses more on biomedicine and spirituality, this TED talk can be used as a foundation for considering diversity in family life (Albanese, pp. 3–6) from a cross-cultural perspective. Davis echoes many other anthropologists in describing the homogenizing influences of modernization and post-industrialism on indigenous families and cultures around the world. Past ethnographies like the NFB’s 1967 Netsilik Inuit films show different perceptions, “ways of being” and “adaptive imperatives.” Davis delivers an impassioned plea for acknowledging how power plays in the modern world are endangering cultural diversity. For example, the cultural “ethnosphere” is “severely eroded” with the loss of about half of all language variations taught to children. This is not inevitable if we would recognize indigenous peoples as resourceful and indigenous cultures as dynamic. Doing so is crucial to preserving and extending the “range of human imagination.”

Warning: There is use of profanity near the end of the talk when Davis tells the story of the “shit knife.”

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. How do many of Davis’s examples of cultural diversity in spirituality call on family relationships? From your observations or readings, can you think of other examples of cultural diversity in family forms and relationships?
  2. Why is family so important in the “cultural ethnosphere”? Why is it important to consider cross cultural diversity when considering family dynamics in Canada (pp. 3–6)?
  3. What is cultural “ethnocide” and what is a Canadian example of this? How is the establishment of territory of Nunavut an example of “restitution”? What is the relevance of the “shit knife” story to the preservation of cultural diversity?

Part III

The Break-Up (2006) movie clip – “I’m Done!”

YouTube, 2:59

In this three-minute dialogue, Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary (Vince Vaughn) list and evaluate what they have done for each other in the relationship, always placing the greater value on their own actions. An excellent example of exchange theory (Albanese, p. 15), “I’m Done!” reveals how each partner measures the costs and benefits of the relationship. Culminating in mutual exasperation, this argument leads to the beginning of “the break-up.”

Warning: There are two uses of profanity near the end of the clip.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. In what sense are Brooke and Gary undermining their “relational solidarity” (p. 15) by undervaluing each other’s actions and behaviours? If you were Brooke or Gary, how would you restate your points to find value instead? Or would you?
  2. Who has the power (p. 15) in this exchange? Who loses more? What are the costs and benefits of the relationship and of discussing the relationship in this way?
  3. One critique of exchange theory is that it “overlook(s) the broader social and cultural contexts that shape, constrain, and alter family life” (p. 16). How would you address this if you were the screenwriter for the next scene?

Part IV

Intimate Labours: The Political Economy

UCTV, 1:29:37

Note: The language in this 2007 panel discussion at the University of California (Santa Barbara campus) is academic so professors might want to guide first-, second-, and perhaps third-year students through it. It demonstrates how the Marxist (political economy) approach can be applied in family-related research. Focusing on “intimate labour” from a feminist (Albanese, pp. 18–19) and Marxist (p. 14)/political economy approach, Eileen Boris traces the history of home care work in the United States in the first 25 minutes. Government policies related to domestic labour throughout the twentieth century drew on commonplace ideologies such as the distinction between the public world of “work” and private family life, the breadwinner/dependency ideal (Commachio, p. 25), the deserving and undeserving poor (Chapter 10), and the devaluation of unpaid labour (Chapter 9). Boris points out that unpaid care work is assumed to be “love” when performed by family members, “unskilled labour” when performed by others. This assumption has repercussions for both workers and families. As part of social reproduction (Albanese, pp. 18–19; Glossary, p. 348), home care work now involves a “conflation of home care with domestic labour.” Government policies and labour laws in the US reinforce this and racial and sexual divisions of labour. As an example, Boris cites the US “Fair Labour Standards Act” of 1974, which exempted home care work from fair value wages. Despite some restructuring since the Clinton administration, this problem continues in the US and it is evident in Canada.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. How is Boris taking a Marxist approach in her study of home care in the US? How is she connecting “power relations within the home . . . to inequities in economic relations outside it” (Albanese, p. 15)?
  2. From a Marxist/feminist perspective, how is home care work part of social reproduction? How does this preserve the economic status quo in North America? What would happen to our economy and to women’s paid and unpaid work if home care work was suddenly given fair market value and recognition?
  3. Do you see evidence of the commonplace ideologies Boris described (listed above) in your observations of family life? Do you agree that we continue to draw on these ideologies in constructing care work in the home?

Part V

The F-Word: Who Wants to Be a Feminist?

Doc Zone (CBC), 45:11

Feminism (Albanese, pp. 18–19) has irrevocably changed family life in the latter half of the twentieth century, whether through theoretical perspective, ideology, or social movement. The F-Word: Who Wants to be a Feminist? considers the past, current, and future prospects of feminism, beginning with its history as a social movement. The first wave began with the early twentieth century Temperance movement (Glossary, p. 349), demands for women’s right to vote, c. 1918 (Commachio, p. 30), and the political fight to call women “persons” under the law, c. 1929.

The second wave of the women’s movement centred on women’s reproductive and workplace rights during the 1960s (pp. 37–38) and extended to the 1980s backlash against feminism.

Third wave feminist researchers have responded to the backlash against feminism by focusing on the intersections of gender, race and class and on new developments such as queer theory (Albanese, p. 19). The F-Word provides several examples of how changes in the status of Canadian women throughout the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries changed in family life and social reproduction (see Albanese, pp. 18–19, and Commachio, 26–27, 30–38).Whether or not we have achieved gender equality is the question repeated throughout the documentary.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. How has the women’s movement changed family life over the past century? Was family life really “gender-neutral” (Glossary, p. 342) before the feminist movement, as previously assumed by sociologists (Albanese, p.18)? Is it now?
  2. Detail the debate illustrated in The F-Word between feminists Christina Hoff Sommers and Susan Faludi who have opposing views. Which side do you agree with and why?
  3. What is the “unfinished business of feminism” (Jessica Yee in The F-Word)? How do third wave feminists represent a “generational revolt” and a hope for the future? What are their arguments for and against calling themselves feminist? And does this matter?