Many people have explored and analyzed the idea of the “typical American family”. One of the most interesting parts of American culture is how people view the dynamics of a family. What makes a father a father? A mother a mother?, etc. One would argue that a “typical American family” would normally consist of a father who goes to an office everyday for work and a mother who cleans the house, drives the kids to school, and cooks every meal.
From our discussion in class, I was able to distinguish my perspective as an etic’s perspective on this approach. I grew up with exactly the opposite of what the typical American family was expected to look like. My father was in the American mother’s role and my mother was in the American father’s role. Although I have an outsider’s perspective, it seems as though these roles that have been fairly consistent in American families over the years is starting to change. As we discussed, the balance of an etic and an emic perspective is what anthropologists strive to obtain. In this situation, I believe that our generation is lucky enough to get closer to obtaining that balance. We live in a time period when those family roles, which were once so concrete and permanent, are finally subject to change. One could even argue that this change has created a snowball effect for our generation to stand stronger and fight harder for what we believe in and to create change. What do you think? What’s your perspective?
Source: Pleck, J. H.. (1977). The Work-Family Role System. Social Problems, 24(4), 417–427. http://doi.org/10.2307/800135