File - Yesenia King

Ch. 1
Science: Transcending Personal
• The Blinders of Personal Experience
• Scientific Investigation: Removing the Blinders
The Blinders of Personal Experience
• Personal experience provides a certain way to
“know” family/things.
• However, it can also act as blinders.
• Personal experiences and assumptions
regarding family may limit the ability to study and
understand fairly the experience of family.
• Science provides norms for transcending the
blinders of personal experience.
Scientific Investigation: Removing
• The central aim of scientific investigation is to
find out what is actually going on, as opposed to
what we assume is happening.
• Science can be defined as “a logical system that
bases knowledge on…systematic observation”
and on empirical evidence--facts we can verify
with our senses.
• The central purpose of the scientific method is to
overcome researchers’ blinders, or biases.
Theoretical Perspectives on the Family
• The Structure-Functional Perspective
• Systems Theory
• Exchange Theory
• Symbolic Interaction Theory
• Conflict Theory
• The Relationship Between Theory and Research
Structure-Functional Perspective on the
The family performs essential functions for
Social institution; Family structure; Family
functions; Functional alternatives
Cross-cultural and historical comparisons;
Analysis of emerging family structures;
Critique of contemporary family
Systems Theory
The family as a whole is more than the
sum of its parts; asserts that the intimate
group must be analyzed as a whole; the
group has boundaries that distinguish it
from other groups.
Key Concepts
System; Equilibrium; Boundaries; Family
Family efficacy and crisis management;
Family boundaries
Exchange Theory Perspective on the
The resources that individuals bring to a
relationship or family affect formation,
continuation, nature of a relationship, and
power dynamics of a relationship; posits a
rational assessment of a situation
Resources; Rewards and costs; Family
power; Social networks; Social support
Family power; Entry and exit from marriage;
Family violence; Network-derived social
Symbolic Interactionist-Constructionist
Perspective on the Family
The internal dynamics of a group of
interacting individuals construct the family;
views humans primarily as cognitive
creatures who are influenced and shaped by
their interaction experiences.
Interaction; Symbol; Meaning; Role making;
Social Construction of Reality;
Deconstruction; Postmodernism
Family rituals; Meanings assigned to
domestic work; Deconstruction of reified
Conflict Perspective on the Family
Asserts that all societies are characterized by
inequality, conflict, and change as groups
within the society struggle over scarce
resources; Gender is central to the analysis
of family; male dominance in family and
society is oppressive of women.
Male dominance; Power and inequality;
Sex/gender systems
Work and family; Domestic violence; Family
power; Advocacy of women’s issues
Facts about Families:
Critical Thinking:
• Think of a family-related topic and consider how you
might study it.
• What theoretical perspective would you use to help
frame your research questions?
• What research methods and data-gathering techniques
would you use?
The Relationship Between Theory and
• Theory directs research questions and suggest
useful concepts.
• Theoretical perspectives help interpret data and
explain facts.
• Subsequent understanding from research can be
used to modify, support, or challenge existing
Doing Family Research
• The variation in family forms and the variety of
social settings for family life mean that few of us
can rely on firsthand experience in studying the
• Our experiential reality—beliefs we have about
the family—may not be accurate.
• Agreement reality—what members of a society
agree is true—may misrepresent the actual
experience of families.
The Need for Intimacy: We are Social
• Loneliness
• Well-Being and Intimacy
Myths About Family Life
• We’ve Lost the Extended Family
• Opposites Attract
• People Marry Because They Love Each Other
• Having Children Increases Marital Satisfaction
• A Good Sex Life Is the Best Predictor of Marital Satisfaction
• Happily Married People Don’t Have Conflict
• Half of all Marriages End in Divorce
Changing Patterns of Intimate
• Premarital Sex
• Births to Unmarried Women
• Living Alone
• Cohabitation
• Delayed Marriage
• Birth Rates
• Household Size
• Employed Mothers
• Divorce
Facts About Families: American Families Today
Marriage is important to Americans. About 90 percent of American adults are
or have been married, or say that they want to marry.
Fewer people are married today. Fifty- eight percent of adults were married in
2008, compared to 61 percent in 1990. Twenty-six percent have never
married; 10 percent are divorced, and 6 percent widowed.
People are postponing marriage. In 2009, the median age at first marriage
was 25.9 for women and 28.1 for men, as compared with 20.8 for women and
23.2 for men in 1970.
Cohabitation is an emergent family form as well as a transitional lifestyle
choice. The number of cohabitating adults has increased more than ten- fold
since 1970.
Fertility has declined. After a high of 3.6 in 1957, the total fertility rate— the
average number of births that a woman will have during her lifetime— has
been at about 2 over the past twenty years.
Parenthood is often postponed. About 19 percent of women reach their forties
without bearing a child.
Facts About Families: American Families Today
Same-sex couples—some of them legally married—are increasingly visible.
About 565,000 same-sex couple households existed in 2008 (Gates 2009b).
It’s estimated that about one-fifth of male same-sex partner households and
one-third of female same-sex households include children.
The divorce rate is high. The divorce rate doubled from 1965 to 1980. Then it
dropped, having fallen more than 30 percent since 1980.
The remarriage rate is has declined in recent decades but remains significant.
Among the divorced, about 52 percent of men and 44 percent of women
remarry. In 2004, 12 per- cent of all adult men and 13 percent of women had
been married twice. Three percent of men and of women had married three or
more times.
There are more families with members over age sixty-five today than in the
past. The proportion of Americans over age 65 is about 13 percent, and that
figure is projected to reach 20 percent by 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau 2010b,
Table 8).
Relaxed Institutional Control over Relationship
-Family is understood to be a social institution.
-Social institutions are patterned and largely predictable ways of thinking and
behaving that are organized around vital aspects of group life and serve
essential social functions.
-Choices in regard to family have become less predictable, and individuals have
differing ideas about one’s obligations to family and society.
-We are witnessing an ongoing social trend that involves increasingly relaxed
institutional control over relationship choices.
-How we view this change can be understood via two different perspectives:
• Family Decline Perspective
• Family Change Perspective
Family Decline Perspective
Critics have described the relaxation of institutional control over
relationships and families as “family decline” or “breakdown.”
Claims that cultural change toward excessive individualism and
self-indulgence has led to high divorce rates and could
undermine responsible parenting.
Additionally, fewer family households contain children, thus
reducing the child-centeredness of society, and overall,
weakening the institution of marriage.
Family Change Perspective
Others agree that changes have occurred with family, but argue
that change represents the historical evolution of family as a
social construct.
Advocates argue that we need to view the family from an historical
Families in the past experienced similar challenges in regards to
the consequences of illness, death, social class, and
race/ethnicity upon the ability to meet the functions of a family.
Family Change Perspective
Today’s family forms need to be seen as historically expected
adjustments to changing conditions in the wider society,
including the decline in manufacturing jobs, the need for
more education, the entry of women into the labor force,
and the increased insecurity of middle- and even upperclass jobs.
Economic trends as well as cultural change accounts for
subsequent changes in the family.
Family is an “adaptable institution” and, as such, changes in
response to larger social change.
Facts About Families: Focus on Children
1. At any given time, a majority of children live in two-parent households.
• In 2008, 70% of children under eighteen lived with two parents—and 68%, with two married
• 26% of children lived with only one parent (23% with mother; 4% with father).
2. Individuals experience a variety of living arrangements throughout childhood.
• A child may live in an intact two-parent family, a single-parent household, with a cohabitating
parent, and in a remarried family in sequence.
• About half of all American children are expected to live in a single-parent household at some
point in their lives, most likely in a single-mother household.
3. Children are more likely to live with a grandparent today than in the recent
• In 1970, 3% of children lived in a household containing a grandparent, but by 2008 that rate
had more than doubled, to 9%.
• In about a quarter of the cases, grandparents had sole responsibility for raising the child, but
many households containing grandparents are extended family households that include other
relatives as well.
4. Although most parents are employed, children are more likely than the
general population to be living in poverty.
• The poverty rate of children has stood at about 18% over the past ten years, whereas that of
the general adult population is about 12% and that of the elderly, about 10%.
• The child poverty rate is lower now than its peak of 22.3% in 1983, but higher than in 1970.
Births to Unmarried Women, by Race:
Number of Americans Living Alone
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau 1987:45 and 2010a.
Birth Rate per 1,000 Population: 1910-2008
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau Web site and Centers for Disease Control 2010.