Academic journal article Michigan Academician

Anthropology

Academic journal article Michigan Academician

Anthropology

Article excerpt

Grandmothers, Evolution and the Law. Judith K. Brown, Oakland University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rochester, MI 48309

In spite of the ever-increasing life span of our older citizens, the sharing of a residence by the three-generation family has become virtually extinct in the twenty-first century United States. Often thousands of miles separate the generations of a single family. Should this be viewed as a loss or a benefit for children growing up today, for their parents or for their grand parents? Anthropology provides us with an enlarged perspective for examining the meaning and the consequences of life in the co-resident three generation family for all three generations, allowing us to view the lives of women at various stages of the life-course, as these are experienced by women outside our own "western"/industrial context. Some theorists suggest that the presence of grandmothers even has implications for inclusive fitness. Ironically, just as we discover and examine the positive influence of the presence of grandmothers in the traditional households of other societies, new laws are being passed in our own, contemporary society curtailing the legal rights of grandparents.

Grandma as Substitute Child Care Provider: Is It Always the Best Possible Situation? Lindsay D. Cooper, Oakland University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rochester, MI 48309

Mothers are sometimes compelled to leave their children in the care of someone outside the nuclear family. In many instances, mothers are legally obligated to relinquish custody of their children to government authorities with no control over their placement. Mother-child separation is also compelled by other situations (i.e., education, faraway employment, physical or mental illness, incarceration or economic circumstances). While the former situation is often generated by child neglect or abuse, the latter is primarily an effort to increase a mother's contribution to family earnings. However, in both circumstances, one of the first places to be explored for alternative childcare is one of the grandmothers. In this study, the first situation involved cases of inner city mothers who, unable to care for their children for an extended period of time due to familial stress, were able to rely on grandmothers to provide substitute care. The second situation involves mothers who have chosen to further their educational or career aspirations and have also engaged grandmothers as substitute caregivers. For this study, a comparison of the two situations will demonstrate the intricacies of relinquishing care of one's children to a member of the extended family.

Nonlinear Processes in the Transformation of American Culture by Women's Social Reform Movements 1868-1925. Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood, Oakland University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rochester MI 48309, Harvard University, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge, MA 02138

This paper examines nonlinear cultural processes used by women's domestic reform movements to transform American culture since the mid-19th century. Domestic reformers changed the dominant gender ideology to make it acceptable for middle and upper class women to have public professions. First they sought to transform housework into a scientific/industrial profession as well remunerated and respected as men's professions. Second, they professionalized a number of housework tasks into public professions and cooperative housekeeping enterprises that ranged from day nurseries, kindergartens and playgrounds, to public kitchens and social settlements. The professionalization of new female occupations, from public health nurses, dietitians and nutritionists, to social workers and kindergarten teachers, was symbolized and implemented with professional material culture and schools that trained women with special, often scientific, equipment. This research mapped over 120 women's institutions and spaces in Boston 1860-1925. …

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