Undoubtedly, there can be a misunderstanding on any background whereas any problem can be analyzed on different levels. Moreover, a detailed analysis can give the facts explaining the issue and show the phenomena that stand behind the problem. I came across a nice example, which can be interesting to interpret from the sociological perspective.
I am not a religious person; however, it was always interesting for me to get to know about different religions or at least something new. While studying Christianity at leisure time, I came across shocking but interesting information about Mormon communities. For me as a woman, it was enough surprising to find out that the Mormon families are polygamous. Later on, I realized that polygamous family is a complicated phenomenon and it is not new. Therefore, the issue of the Mormon polygamous families deserves on substantial attention in the life of society. Thus, it is obvious that a detailed study of Mormon polygamy is needed in order to examine the model of the polygamous family in terms of the sociological perspectives.
According to the teachings of Joseph Smith, the followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) can have multiple wives. As a result of several reforms, the government banned polygamy, and this religious movement has ceased the polygamy in the USA and Canada. Today, polygamy is still practiced in several small organizations that have no relation to the LDS Church. They withdraw from the latter only because of disagreement over the issue of the abolition of polygamy. The most known of these organizations is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS).
The term family is most often considered by sociologists as a private sphere of individuals. In terms of the structure of society, people usually consider family as some place that is closed from other people, where person is protected from the pressure and stress of the outside world. Hence, there is no doubt that family is a structure of individuals’ relationships, where people experience positive processes of care and love. However, family also can be referred to as a social institution that mutually exists with society.
Moreover, it is difficult to consider polygamy from the point of the traditional marriage because some of the basic approaches to studding of this phenomenon are not suitable for this model. In fact, traditional relationships are built and preserved with the help of five strategies: openness, assurances, positivity, sharing tasks, and social network. In relationships, people take a range of tasks beginning from talking about everyone’s day, to planning birthday celebration, and dealing with difficulties as they occur. In the case of polygamous families, relationships are built in a different way. From the perspective of biological determinism, the roles of individuals are preserved in the same manner. In other words, there is no individualism in such community owing to that the group lives under the collectivism conditions. On the other hand, relationships between man and woman are built in other way. Due that a man has several wives, he pays different amount of time to each of them. Husband gives more time to young wives, and then he stays with other wives, who teach a newcomer how to behave and share household choirs. The family shares their activities all the time. Each wife has several children, who are grown in the same group.
From the point of view of the social institution of marriage, the extended family theory is the most suitable for the understanding of the dynamics of polygamous families. The main features of this theory are cohabitation of different generations of relatives and joint economic activities such as ownership of property management services.
The relationship between wives is another complicated aspect of this family model. From the first look, it seems that all members of the family live in a friendly atmosphere. Nonetheless, from the scientific position, it is clear that every wife would consider another one as competitress. Additionally, there is a certain hierarchy in the community with such model of family. To be more precise, all the power and authority is focused in the hands of husband because he is in the center of the family and is a breadwinner for the whole family. Conversely, in the religious context, these women and children treat husband as a religious idol and prophet. Nevertheless, there is another level in this hierarchy. Specifically, there are younger women in the community. Thus, they have less authority in the community, and they make more household work. Such structure of the community is predetermined by several factors: the collectivism as the central model of the community, dominant role of the man, and privilege regarding age.
To sum up, this experience was really interesting for me. Apart from that, there is a range of valuable and comprehensive materials for the analysis of this topic. Although such issue as polygamous families is a complicated phenomenon, it is a good object for a sociological study. What is more, there are many aspects that can be covered: for instance, the strengths and weakness of such families can be pointed out, to list a few. The strengths of polygamous families are the support from the wives and children, and the joint economic activities of the family that is more regulated and stable than a traditional one. The downside is that love in these relationships cannot be considered. Besides, in such families, children do not receive proper attention from the father, and it can cause various mental disorders in the future.
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