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  1. The Changing Family Chapter 11

  2. Marriage and Family Defined • Family - a group of people related by marriage, blood, or adoption. • social institution that unites individuals in cooperative groups that care for members, regulate sexual relationships, and oversee the bearing and raising of children • Functionalist perspective • Most important social institution – Enduring features of social life • Stresses how family is related to other parts of society and how it contributes to the well-being of society

  3. The Problem in Sociological Perspective • Effects of the Industrial Revolution on the family • Men left home • Children became an economic liability • Formal education • A lower birthrate • From rural to urban • Loss of functions • Changes in women’s roles

  4. The Scope of the Problem • Modernity • Social and cultural factors relating to recent times or the present • So powerful, family isn’t going to be able to adjust • Divorce • Increased steadily since 1970 • Is divorce a sign of weakness or strength? • Can interpret divorce statistics in many ways • The children of divorce • Involves other things that cannot be quantified • Cohabitation

  5. Family Types • Nuclear family – wife, father, and children • Extended family – nuclear family plus other relatives – like grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. • Marriage - a legal union based on mutual rights and obligations • Marriage = wedding - culture

  6. Mate Selection • Romantic Love – idea of people being sexually attracted to one another and idealizing the other • Ex. Soul mate • 2 components: 1) Emotional – feeling of sexual attraction 2) Cognitive – feeling we describe as being “in love” • Homogamy –the tendency to marry someone similar to oneself based on personal preference. • Heterogamy– partners are dissimilar with respect to some important social characteristics. • Interracial marriage

  7. New Family Forms • Marriage rate – the number of marriages per year for every one thousand members of a population. • The U.S. marriage rate has fluctuated since 1940.

  8. Median Age at First Marriage


  10. Cohabitation • Cohabitation – living with someone in a marriage-like arrangement without the legal obligations and responsibilities of formal marriage. • While cohabitation is more common among people with less education, it is increasing at higher educational levels. • Cohabitation is on the rise. In 2009, cohabitation increased by 13 percent, twice the average annual increase of the preceding few years. • Cohabitation has almost doubled since 1990.

  11. Single-Parent Families • have been on the rise since 1970; 23 million children now live in single-parent families (32 percent of all children); 6 times higher than 1940, 3 times higher than 1970, and about double what it was in 1980 • 95% of children in single-parent families are in single-mother families • Children in single-parent families are without the same economic resources available in two-parent families. • Most research indicates that growing up with a single parent negatively affects a child’s well-being.

  12. Single-Parent Families – Economic Outcomes • Children in single-parent homes: • exhibit more behavioral problems, • have higher teenage pregnancy rates, • perform lower academically, • score lower on tests of psychological well-being, • are less able to adapt in social settings than children living with their biological parents

  13. Childless Marriages • In the past, there was a stigma attached to marriages without children. • In 2008, one in five American women ages 40–44 was childless, up 80 percent since 1970 • Highest rates among White women, highly educated women. • Reasons to remain childless: • less stigma • importance of careers • Independence • do not enjoy children • too much delay • physical or mental limitations.

  14. Same-Sex Domestic Partners • Due to the stigma surrounding homosexuality, it is difficult to know exactly what proportion of the American population is gay. • Americans have differing views of legalizing same-sex marriage: • 48% of Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage; 42% favor it. • Same-sex partners living together with children—are also increasing in number, although their number is small compared with heterosexual marriages.

  15. Adult Children Returning Home • “Boomerang kids” – • young adults (18-34) have a much higher probability of living in their parents’ home than they did 30 years ago. • Contributing factors: • Young adults are marrying later. • More young adults are continuing their education, and live at home while doing so. • Due to the high cost of living, young adults return home after completing their education. • High divorce rate also increases the proportion of young adults living at home.

  16. Adult Children Returning Home: Consequences • An added financial burden for older parents. • Many parents complain that their adult children do not share in expenses, fail to help around the house, invade privacy, and prevent them from developing relationships with spouses and friends. • Adult children living at home forfeit some freedom and are subject to some unwanted parental control.

  17. The Sandwich Generation • More middle-aged adults are finding mothers and fathers living with them. • Sandwich generation – term applied to those adults caught between caring for their parents and caring for the family they formed after leaving home. • Elderly parents receive better care from those who love them and feel responsible for them. • Aging parents also offer emotional support and financial resources. • Taking care of an elderly parent is not easy, physically or emotionally. • The burden of caring for an aging parent falls much more heavily on women. • About 2/3 of unpaid caregivers are female.

  18. Divorce • Divorce rate – the number of divorces annually for every thousand members of the population. • The nagging dilemma of divorce • Decision to divorce is usually painful, preceded by years of dissatisfaction and unhappiness • Research – people who go to college, belong to a religion, wait to get married, and have children have a much better chance of their marriage lasting. • Working with co workers of opposite sex and working with people who are recently divorced, increase one’s risk of divorce • Divorce and children

  19. Family Violence • Over 1/5 of all reported cases of aggravated assault involve domestic violence, however many episodes go unreported. • Domestic violence involves children, spouses, siblings, and older people. • As many as ½ of married women in the U.S. are victims of spousal violence. • At least 4 million women are battered by their husbands annually. • 4,000 women each year are beaten to death. • 14% of married women are sexually attacked by their husbands every year. • ¾ of spousal violence occurs during separation or after divorce.

  20. Family Violence • Alcohol and violence • The more people drink, the more likely they are to beat their spouse. • The social heredity of violence • Children learn from their parents that violence is a way to solve problems.

  21. Family Resiliency • Family resiliency – refers to the family’s capacity to emerge from crises as stronger and more resourceful. • Families that flourish despite distress are resilient. • Family friendly policy

  22. Functionalist Theory of Families - Stresses how family is related to other parts of society and how it contributes to the well-being of society Functions of the Family • Economic production, socialization of children, care of sick and aged, recreation, sexual control, and reproduction.

  23. Conflict Theory and Family • Draws attention to the struggles of scarce resources: • Housework = time, energy, leisure • “second shift” • False consciousness • Failure to recognize the state of one’s exploitation • Power and the marital experience • Today’s women are less dependent on mates. • Conflict theorists stress that marriage and family patterns reflect historical struggles between men and women. • Examines women’s oppression and how the family has been used to maintain male domination of females. • The family perpetuates gender inequality

  24. Symbolic Interaction and Family • An overloaded institution • Symbolic interactionists examine what people expect out of marriage • The love symbol: engulfment into unrealistic expectations • Optional emotions have now become mandatory emotions • Changing Ideas about Divorce • Changing ideas about children • Changing expectations of parenting • Changing marital roles • Society used to expect the husband to assume the role of breadwinner • How each sex experiences marriage differently • Ex. housework • Relationships within the family are constantly being redefined.

  25. Conservatives: Traditional Family Values • The family as the core of a society • Source of problems stem from a break with traditional families • Rising divorce and cohabitation; gay marriage • “Me” generation • Solution would be to go back to traditional family values

  26. Liberals: Many Kinds of Families • Support variability in family form • Poverty and domestic abuse are the biggest problems • Increase support to families • Child Care • Higher minimum wage • Pay women as much as men

  27. Radicals: Replace the Family • Family is related to inequality • Family is how property is passed on from one generation to the next • Family is related to perpetuating inequality • Perpetuates inequality based on sexual orientation

  28. LookingForward • Is the nuclear family deteriorating? • Family Decline Perspective • Family Change Perspective • The nuclear family remains the most popular choice among Americans.

  29. The Future of the Problem • Rapid social change as normative • Change is so rapid and extensive that parents and children live in different worlds. • Changes we can expect • Age at first marriage will continue upward • Cohabitation will continue to increase • Marriage will become even more oriented around companionship • Divorce rate may decline • The ideological struggle