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In your discussion posting, first: 

1) Apply this chapter’s contents to your own life experience with the institutions of marriage and the family. What social factors affect your family life? In what ways is your family life different from that of your grandparents? 

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2) Have social media and internet dating sites transformed the courtship process? In what ways? What social factors might explain the rise in usage of dating sites (Match, Bumble, Hinge, Tinder etc) and social media as a tool to seek out love, romance, sex and companionship? 

3) Post a response to another classmate’s posting, discussing your thoughts of their post in a respectful and thoughtful manner. What stood out to you about their analysis? Which sociological or psychological theories best explain the dissemination of these racial or ethnic representations in the mass media? 

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 2

 Practices of marriage and family differ around the world. Although every human group organizes its members in families, how families are organized varies greatly from culture to culture. Broadly defined, a family consists of two or more people who consider themselves related by blood, marriage, or adoption.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 3  The term family is difficult to define because there are many types.  In some societies, men have more than one wife (polygyny) or women have

more than one husband (polyandry).  In other societies, disciplining of children does not characterize a family. As

such, a broad definition of family is needed.  A family is a group of people who consider themselves related by blood,

marriage, or adoption.  In contrast, a household consists of people who occupy the same housing

unit.  A family is classified as a nuclear family (husband, wife, and children) or an

extended family (a nuclear family plus other relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins).  The family of orientation is the family in which a person grows up, while the

family of procreation is the family formed when a couple’s first child is born. A person who is married but has not had a child is part of a couple, not a family.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 4  Marriage is a group’s approved mating arrangements, usually

marked by a ritual to show the couple’s new public status.  Many groups have various customs regarding marriage or family. For

example, in the 1980s and 1990s, several European countries legalized same- sex marriages. In 2003, so did Canada, and the state of Massachusetts did in 2004. Same-sex marriage became legal in the United States in 2015.

 Common cultural themes run through marriage and family.  Patterns of mate selection are established to govern who one can and

cannot marry. Endogamy is the practice of marrying within one’s own group, while exogamy is the practice of marrying outside of one’s own group. The best example of exogamy is the incest taboo, which prohibits sex and marriage among designated relatives. Some norms of mate selection are written into law, others are informal.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 5 Common cultural themes run through marriage and family.  Three major patterns of descent (tracing kinship over generations) are (1)

bilateral (descent traced on both the mother’s and the father’s side); (2) patrilineal (descent traced only on the father’s side); and (3) matrilineal (descent traced only on the mother’s side).  Mate selection and descent are regulated in all societies to provide an

orderly way of passing property and other things to the next generation. In a bilateral system, property passes to males and females; in a patrilineal system, property passes only to males; in a matrilineal system, property passes only to females.  Patriarchy is a social system in which men dominate women, and it runs

through all societies. No historical records exist of a true matriarchy, a system in which women-as-a-group dominate over men-as-a-group. In an egalitarian social system, authority is more or less equally divided between men and women.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY: THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES

 The functionalist perspective stresses how the family is related to other parts of society and how it contributes to the well-being of society.  The family is universal because it serves functions essential to the well-being

of society: economic production, socialization of children, care of the sick and aged, recreation, sexual control, and reproduction.  The incest taboo (rules specifying which people are too closely related to

have sex or marry) helps the family avoid role confusion and forces people to look outside the family for marriage partners, creating a network of support.  Unlike the extended family, the nuclear family has fewer people that it can

depend on for material and emotional support; thus, the members of a nuclear family are vulnerable to “emotional overload.” The relative isolation of the nuclear family makes it easier for the “dark side” of families (incest and other types of abuse) to emerge.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY: THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES 2

 Central to the conflict perspective is the struggle over power; who has it and who resents not having it?  Throughout history, husbands have had more power and wives

have resented it. In the United States, wives have been gaining more power in marriage.  According to Figure 16.1, wives are currently making more

decisions at home concerning the family’s finances, purchases, and activity planning than men. Forty-three percent of wives make more decisions at home compared to 26 percent of husbands making the majority of the family decisions and 31 percent of families where the decisions are divided equally.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY: THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES 3

 Using the symbolic interactionist perspective, we can explore the different meanings that gender, housework, and childcare have for men and women and how each sex experiences marriage differently.  Women are spending less time doing housework and more time at paid

work. Men are doing the opposite—they have increased the time they spend on housework and child care, while they have dropped their paid work hours slightly.  According to Figure 16.2, men are spending more time on housework than in

the past, but the combined time spent on housework by husbands and wives has dropped by 9.4 hours per week. This is most likely the result of technological advances allowing for less time to complete more of the time- consuming household tasks than in the past.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY: THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES 4

 Using the symbolic interactionist perspective, we can explore the different meanings that gender, housework, and child care have for men and women and how each sex experiences marriage differently.

 Parents are also spending more time on child care by cutting down time spent visiting friends and relatives.  Sociologists see a shift in the gendered division of labor, with

men spending more time on housework and child care, which makes us anticipate greater marital equality in the future.

FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE

 Romantic love is the idea of people being sexually attracted to one another and idealizing one another other.  A study by Dutton and Arthur showed that fear can provide

romantic love or at least sexual attraction.  Romantic love has two components: (1) emotional, a feeling of

sexual attraction; and (2) cognitive, the feeling we describe as being “in love.”

FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 2

 The social channels of love and marriage in the United States include age, education, social class, race, and religion.  Homogamy is the tendency of people with similar characteristics

to marry one another usually resulting from propinquity (spatial nearness).  Interracial marriage, which has increased sharply, is an exception

to these social patterns. About 9 percent marry someone of another race, which totals about 6 million couples.  One of the most dramatic changes is marriages between African

Americans and whites.

FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 3

 Ideas and views regarding childbirth have also changed with our societal changes.  Three major events changed the ideal family size: (1) the arrival

of birth control; (2) the onset of the sexual revolution; and (3) change in how women view work as a long-term career.  Marital satisfaction usually decreases after birth. When the last

child reaches age 6, marital happiness increases, and then decreases at age 12 or 13.

FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 4

 As more mothers today are employed outside the home, child care has become an issue.  In comparing married couples and single mothers, child-care arrangements

appear to be quite similar. The main difference is the role played by the child’s father while the mother is at work. When married women are at work, the father is likely to be taking care of the baby. For single mothers, grandparents and other relatives often help fill the childcare gap left by absent fathers in single mother homes.  Single fathers are also experiencing unique child-care challenges.  About one in five children is cared for in day-care centers. Only a minority of

U.S. day-care centers offers high-quality care. The very low wages paid to day- care workers seems to account for this.

FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 5

 As more mothers today are employed outside the home, child care has become an issue.  Nannies have become popular among upper-middle-class parents. A

recurring problem is tensions between parents and the nanny.  According to Melvin Kohn, parents socialize children into the norms of their

respective work worlds. Working-class parents want their children to conform to societal expectations. Middle-class parents are more concerned that their children develop curiosity, self-expression, and self-control.  Parents who hover over their children are called helicopter parents. This is

common among upper-middle-class parents.

FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 6

 Later stages of family life bring both pleasures and problems.  The empty nest is a married couple’s domestic situation after the last child

has left home. The empty nest is not so empty anymore.  With prolonged education and the growing cost of establishing households,

U.S. children are leaving home much later or are returning after having left.  Eighteen percent of all 25- to 29-year-olds are living with their parents.

These “adolescents” face issues with their parents around being independent and dependent.  Women are more likely than men to face the problem of adjusting to

widowhood, for not only does the average woman live longer than the average man, but she has also married a man older than herself.  The survivor is faced with identity issues of who he or she is. The adjustment

is even more difficult when death is unexpected.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES  Although there are some variations in family life between white,

African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American families, the primary distinctions in families result from cultural differences and social class.  The upper class is concerned with maintaining family lineage and

preserving their privilege and wealth; the middle-class focuses on achievement and respectability; poor African American families face the problems that poverty brings.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 2  Poor men are likely to have few job skills and to be unemployed. As

such, it is difficult to fulfill the cultural roles of husband and father. Poor families tend to be headed by females, and single mothers tend to experience high birth rates. Divorce and desertion are also more common among the poor.  Compared to other groups, African American families are the least

likely to be headed by married couples and the most likely to be headed by women. The women are also more likely to marry men who are less educated than themselves.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 3

 The effects of social class on families also apply to Latinos. In addition, families differ by country of origin.  What really distinguishes Latino families is culture—especially the

Spanish language, the Roman Catholic religion, and a strong family orientation, coupled with a disapproval of divorce.  Machismo, the emphasis on male strength and dominance, used

to be a characteristic of Latino families. Currently, machismo characterizes a small proportion of Latino husband-fathers.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 4

 The structure of Asian American families is almost identical to that of white families.  Because Asian Americans come from many different countries, family life

varies considerably, reflecting these different cultures. The more recent the immigration, the closer the family life is to that of the country of origin.  One study points out that while Chinese and Japanese American families

have adopted the nuclear family pattern of the United States, they have retained Confucian values that provide a distinct framework to family life: humanism, collectivity, self-discipline, hierarchy, respect for the elderly, moderation, and obligation.  Asian Americans are more likely to use shame and guilt than physical

punishment to control their children’s behavior.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 5  For Native American families, the issue is whether to follow traditional

values or to assimilate. The structure of Native American families is almost identical to that of Latinos; like others, these families differ by social class.  Native American families are permissive with their children and avoid

physical punishment.  Elders play a much more active role in their children’s families than they do

in most U.S. families; they provide child care and teach and discipline children.

 There has been an increase in one-parent families.  This is due to the high divorce rate and that single women who give birth are

taking longer to get married.  The concern about one-parent families has more to do with their poverty

than that they are headed by a single parent. The reason for the poverty is that most are headed by women who earn less than men.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 6  Overall, one of six U.S. women does not give birth. Although somewhat

influenced by race and ethnicity, in general, the more education a woman has, the more likely she is to expect to bear no children.  The main reason couples choose not to have children is they want to be free to be

able to change jobs or do spontaneous things; they want to avoid the expenses of raising a child or the stresses associated with having children. Some do not like children, are in an unstable marriage, or feel they will be bored.  The proportion of couples who remain childless is likely to increase due to more

education and careers available to women, legal abortion, advances in contraception, the high cost of child rearing, and the emphasis on owning material things.  Many families are not childless by choice; they are infertile. Some adopt, while a few

turn to new reproductive technologies.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 7

 A blended family is one whose members were once part of other families (two divorced persons marry, bringing children into a new family unit). Blended families are increasing in number and often experience complicated family relationships.  Many homosexual couples live in monogamous relationships that

resemble heterosexual marriages in many respects.  In 2015, the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriages

legal throughout the United States.

DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 8

 Sociologists Philip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz found that same-sex couples’ main struggles deal with housework, money, careers, issues with relatives, and sexual adjustments, which are the same struggles heterosexual couples deal with. Among gay and lesbian couples, breakups occur at the same rate as among heterosexual marriages.  The results are mixed about whether or not children raised by

same-sex parents will have worse emotional adjustment than children reared by two biological parents.

TRENDS IN U.S. FAMILIES

 Several trends since the 1960s are very apparent in U.S. families.  The average age of American brides is the oldest it has been

since records first were kept.  As a result, the age at which U.S. women have their first

children is also the highest in U.S. history.  While many young people postpone marriage, they have not

postponed the age at which they set up housekeeping with someone of the opposite sex.

TRENDS IN U.S. FAMILIES 2

 Cohabitation is living together as an unmarried couple and has increased since the 1970s steeply and consistently.  Commitment is the essential difference between

cohabitation and marriage: marriage assumes permanence; cohabiting assumes remaining together “as long as it works out.”  The divorce rate between those who cohabit before

marriage and those who do not is about the same suggesting that cohabitation neither weakens nor strengthens marriage.

TRENDS IN U.S. FAMILIES 3

 The sandwich generation refers to people who find themselves sandwiched between two generations, responsible for the care of their children and for their own aging parents. These people are typically between the ages of 40 and 55.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

 There are problems when it comes to measuring the extent of divorce in U.S. society.  Although the divorce rate is reported at 50 percent, this

statistic is misleading because with rare exceptions, those who divorce do not come from the group who married that year.  An alternative is to compare the number of divorces in a

given year to the entire group of married couples. The divorce rate for any given year is less than 2 percent of all married couples.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 2

 A third way is to calculate the percentage of all adult Americans who are divorced.  Another question to ask is what percentage of people have ever

been divorced. Overall, 43 to 46 percent of marriages end in divorce.  People on average who marry outside their racial-ethnic groups

have a higher divorce rate, but the rate differs based on who marries whom.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 3

 Divorce is especially hard on children, but some situations make it easier for children to cope.  Compared with children whose parents are not divorced, children from

divorced families are more likely to have behavioral problems, to get poor grades, to drop out of high school, and to get in trouble with the law.  Children who feel close to both parents make the best adjustment, whereas

those who don’t feel close to either parent make the worst adjustment.  Adult children who come from a divorced family have a chance at successful

marriage if they marry someone whose parents did not divorce. Those marriages where both husband and wife come from a divorced family are more likely to be marked by high distrust and conflict, leading to a higher chance of divorce.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 4

 Sociologists have found that the effects of divorce continue across generations. The grandchildren of divorce have weaker ties to their parents, they don’t go as far in school, and they have more marital discord with their spouses.  Fathers who were married to the mothers of their children, are

older, more educated, and have higher incomes are more likely to continue to have contact with their children following divorce.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 5

 Women are more likely than men to feel that divorce gives them a new chance at life. The spouse who initiates the divorce usually gets over it sooner and usually remarries sooner. Many divorced couples maintain contact with ex-spouses because of their children.  Remarriage is common, but it brings up the issue of norms: working

out how they are related to one another and what their relationships require. Bringing children into a marriage adds stress, and these couples are more likely to divorce, but if no children are in the picture, the likelihood of divorce is the same as that of first marriages.

TWO SIDES OF FAMILY LIFE

 Spousal battering, child abuse, marital rape, and incest represent the dark side of family life.  Although wives are about as likely to attack their husbands as

husbands are to attack their wives, it is generally the husband who lands the last and most damaging blow. Violence against women is related to the sexist structure of society and our socialization.  More than three million U.S. children are reported to the

authorities as victims of abuse or neglect; about 800,000 of these cases are substantiated.

TWO SIDES OF FAMILY LIFE 2

 Marital rape is more common than previously thought. Compared to victims of rape by acquaintances or strangers, victims of marital rape are less likely to report it.  Rape victims include those in cohabiting and lesbian

relationships.  Incest is sexual relations between relatives, such as brothers and

sisters or parents and children. It is most likely to occur in families that are socially isolated and is more common than it was previously thought to be. The most common form of incest occurs between children such as siblings.

TWO SIDES OF FAMILY LIFE 3

 A study of couples who had been married fifteen years or longer reported these factors in making a relationship successful: thinking of their spouses as their best friends; liking their spouses as people; having a commitment to the marriage and seeing it as sacred; agreeing with their spouses on aims and goals, believing that their spouses have grown more interesting; wanting the relationship to succeed; and laughing together.  Sociologists have also found that marriages are happier when

couples get along with their in-laws and when they do leisure activities that they both enjoy.

THES FUTURE OF MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY

 In spite of problems, marriage will continue because it is functional. The vast proportion of Americans will continue to marry; many of those who divorce will remarry and “try again.”  It is likely that cohabitation, births to single mothers, age at first marriage,

and parenting by grandparents will increase. More married women will join the workforce and continue to gain marital power. Finally, more families will struggle with the twin demands of raising children and caring for aging parents.  We will continue to deal with the conflict between the bleak picture of

marriage and family painted by the media and the rosy one painted by cultural myths. Sociologists can help correct the distortions through research.

  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 2
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 3
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 4
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 5
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY:�THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY:�THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES 2
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY:�THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES 3
  • MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY:�THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES 4
  • FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE
  • FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 2
  • FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 3
  • FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 4
  • FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 5
  • FAMILY AND THE LIFE CYCLE 6
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 2
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 3
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 4
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 5
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 6
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 7
  • DIVERSITY IN U.S. FAMILIES 8
  • TRENDS IN U.S. FAMILIES
  • TRENDS IN U.S. FAMILIES 2
  • TRENDS IN U.S. FAMILIES 3
  • DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
  • DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 2
  • DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 3
  • DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 4
  • DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE 5
  • TWO SIDES OF FAMILY LIFE
  • TWO SIDES OF FAMILY LIFE 2
  • TWO SIDES OF FAMILY LIFE 3
  • THES FUTURE OF MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY

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