Canadian families have undergone a massive transition over the last several years due to globalization and other socio-economic factors. According to Fox (65), the Canadian families today are very different from what they used to be about 100 years ago. The family structure has gradually changed, and some of the norms that were held dearly by families are currently considered irrelevant. About 100 years ago, men were viewed as the sole breadwinners, and women were supposed to take care of their homes and children. This is no longer the case for the modern Canadian families. Some 100 years ago, each family consisted of a mother, a father and children.
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This is not the case anymore as people embrace cultures that are completely new to the traditional family norms. Canada has been opened to the world that is being turned into a global village by a technology ushering in it. People from different cultures have come into the country with new cultural practices and their own understanding of what constitutes a family. This means that understanding a Canadian family has become more complex because of this diversity. The aim of this research is to determine the importance of adopting an intersectional approach to understand Canadian families and the associated social issues.
Importance of Using Intersectional Approach to Understand Canadian Families
Understanding Canadian families can no longer be done on general terms where a wide range of assumptions and generalizations are made. Such generalizations may not give a true image of what the current Canadian society looks like. According to Fox (34), understanding the Canadian society requires an individualistic approach that would enable one to focus on all types of families that exist in this society. Intersectional approach to understanding Canadian families has been considered appropriate in bringing out the true image of these families. Fox (67) says that intersectional approach to understanding Canadian families takes into account various factors, including socio-economic and cultural issues.
The scholar notes that this approach offers a unique system that can be used to analyze the families in a way that would capture the true diversity of people in this country. In order to understand the relevance of the intersectional approach of analyzing Canadian families, it would be important to understand the diversity in this country, and how it is manifested in Canadian families.
Canada is home to about 35.5 million people based on the census that was conducted in early 2014 (Fox 39). This population is composed of people from various parts of the world. Each of the groups comes with their own unique family structures and norms that they consider a family should have. These ethnic groups should be captured when analyzing these families. Canada is very diverse, with many cultural groups having moved to the country from various parts of the world over a long period because of a number of reasons. In order to capture this diversity, it may be necessary to analyze socio-cultural and economic issues that are relevant to the family structure. Canadian families have various amounts of wealth that affect their lifestyles. According to Fox (84), although Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it has a huge disparity among the poor and the rich.
There are families in this country, which are super-rich, having wealth running into billions of dollars. These families live in affluent neighborhoods, with a lifestyle that demonstrates the prosperity. In the same country, there are families that are struggling to earn a living. Such families live in slums where insecurity is an issue, and they have to contend with cheap or free services offered by the government. They visit government hospitals when they are sick to benefit from subsidized government services. These two groups of families are having a completely different family structure that should always be captured when analyzing the Canadian families.
The difference in their lifestyles, their values in life, and several other family virtues can only be understood when one takes the intersectional approach of analysis. This approach will help capture this difference, making it possible to classify the two types of families. According to Fox (67), financial capacity of families is one of the most important factors when classifying families. It should not be ignored, otherwise the analysis will be considered incomprehensive.
As mentioned before, Canada is home to people from various parts of the world. According to a report by Fox (53), about 76.6% of Canadians are Europeans, 14.1% are Asians, 4.4% are Aboriginal, 3.1% are African-Americans, and 1.2% are Latin Americans, 0.5% multiracial, and 0.2% constitutes other groups. This statistics gives a clear indication of how this country is multiracial. They all constitute the Canadian society. When analyzing Canadian families, it would not be possible to ignore any of these groups. A comprehensive analysis must find a way of embracing this multi-ethnicity in the analysis.
Fox (53) says that the family structure and norms of the Europeans have some fundamental differences with that of the African-Americans, Asians and other groups. Although some differences may exist, there are beliefs and practices in the families that are unique to each of the groups. In many cases, a researcher or an analyst would consider using some of the characteristics of the dominant group to generalize on what is taking place among the entire populations in this country. This is not a good approach to take because this will not give the true image of the Canadian families. The Canadian families do not consist of Europeans alone. Other racial groups also exist in this country. In order to capture the true image of the Canadian families, these other minor groups cannot be ignored. In order to capture this racial diversity, an intersectional approach to understanding Canadian families would be appropriate.
According to Fox (23), there has been a consistent shift in the structure of families over the years. Traditionally, families were considered complete when there was a father, a mother, and children. It would be understandable if either of the parents passed away, because this is natural. However, this is not what the society members believe in currently. The report by Fox (55) shows that there is a consistent rise in the number of single parents in this country.
It is becoming normal for people to have children in relationships that do not lead to marriage. This was considered unacceptable before. However, it is a phenomenon that is becoming normal in this country. In some instances, legally married people would separate soon after having children. This means that one of the parents will have to take care of the children as a single parent. The family structure of single parents is very different from that where both parents are available.
There is also a difference between single parentage where both parents are available to the children even though they live separately and such families where children do not know either of their parent. Such families also exist in this country. A comprehensive analysis of Canadian families should be able to reflect this structure of families. In order to capture this diversity, it is important to use the intersectional approach of analysis. It will help bring the uniqueness of these family structures.
According to Fox (66), there is a rise in the number of people who decide to live without ever marrying or adopting a child. One-person households are on the rise in this country, especially among those aged below 45 years.
Recent reports have indicated that the number of people who say that they would prefer staying alone without marrying or adopting children is consistently increasing. This is something that was not regarded as normal in this society in the past. However, it is now a reality that must be considered when analyzing the Canadian families. It is important to appreciate that such families constitute the larger part that makes the Canadian society. They cannot be ignored when conducting an analysis of the structure of the Canadian families. Using the intersectional approach to understanding Canadian families would help in capturing this uniqueness.
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Adoption of children is another uniqueness in families that has been witnessed in the recent years. According to Fox (44), more Canadians are considering the option of adopting children, especially in cases where they are unable to or not interested in having their own children. Households with adopted children may not be very different from those that have their own biological children. However, it is necessary to appreciate that such arrangements are a little different from cases where couples have their own children.
This is a unique characteristic of families that should be given considerations when analyzing Canadian families. A normal analysis of these families may possibly ignore these facts, especially when the process of collecting data does not focus on this issue. However, when using intersectional approach to understanding the Canadian families, this is a fact that cannot be ignored. During the process of collecting data, this is another aspect of the Canadian families to consider. This means that the analysis will capture whether families had biological or adopted children.
One factor that has shown a shift from traditional norms in a family setting is the issue of family breadwinners. According to Fox (56), although many women in the current Canadian families are in gainful employment just like men, some families still have men as the sole breadwinners. The number of women who wholly depend on their husbands for the family livelihood has been consistently reducing. However, their presence in the society should not be ignored when analyzing Canadian families. Using intersectional approach in this analysis will help set aside such families as being unique in the era when women are playing major roles in earning a livelihood for their families.
The report by Fox (61) observes that there has been a consistent rise in the number of same-sex marriages following the legalization of such marriages in this country in the year 2005. Same-sex relationships were abhorred in the traditional Canadian families. Many of the gays were forced to hide such habits and try to lead what the society considered a normal life. However, this is no longer the case.
Over the years, the society has grown more lenient with the issue of same-sex marriage, and many people have come out openly to confess that they are gays or lesbians. Such families are present in our society, although some people still consider it abnormal. In such arrangements, the couples may decide to adopt children or stay without having any child. Some of the couples also consider entering into such family arrangements with children they had from their previous relationships. These are unique families that should be captured when conducting a comprehensive analysis of Canadian families. Intersectional approach of understanding Canadian families would be crucial in this case.
It is clear from the discussion above that the Canadian families have numerous factors that make families unique. There is diversity in many aspects of the families. These socio-economic issues create a phenomenon where families can be grouped into various categories. Classification of these families on the basis of race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation alone may not be adequate. There is need to use an approach that is comprehensive enough to bring out all characteristics of Canadian families, and some of the factors that may make one family different from another. Using intersectional approach to understanding Canadian families offers the best opportunity to bring on board all the characteristics of different families in this country.
Fox, Bonnie. Family Patterns, Gender Relations. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.