Chapter 1: Families have become much more diverse over the past half-century Some observers are concerned about the increasing proportion of children who are not being raised by two married, biological parents. Others argue that the alternative family forms are just as good as lifelong marriage. Americans tend to take individualistic perspectives on adult life Utilitarian individualism emphasizes self-reliance and personal achievement. Expressive individualism emphasizes one’s feelings and emotional satisfaction. People must choose the kind of family life they will have. The primary family unit in the US and most other Western nations is the small, household-based unit of parents and children. No single definition of family is adequate for all purposes. This book takes two perspectives and proposes two definitions: o Public family: focuses on the care that family members provide for dependents. o Private family: focuses on the love and emotional satisfaction family members provide for each other. Both definitions can be applied to the same family unit because most families have both a public and private dimension. Survey research and observational research are the two methods most commonly used by sociologists. The two methods have complementary strengths and limitations. o Survey Study: Large, random sample of individuals or families. An interviewer asks questions from a predesigned questionnaire and records the answers. Results can be generalized to the population of interest. Only limited knowledge can be obtained; hard to judge honesty of responses. o Observational Study: Small, purposefully chosen sample of individuals or families. A researcher observes them in depth over a long period of time, sometimes participating in their daily activities. Detailed knowledge is obtained. Findings may not be representative of other, similar individuals or families. Modern Era o Time period: industrialization to mid-20 th century o Behavior Rule-directed o Lifestyle choices: restricted o Kinship ties: assigned Late Modern Era o Time Period: Since mid-20 th century o Behavior: Rule-altering o Lifestyle Choices: Mandatory o Kinship Ties: Created Four widely used theoretical perspectives are exchange, symbolic interaction, feminist, and postmodern. o Exchange: Individuals with greater resources are more alternatives can drive better bargains. Husbands’ power over wives is greater when wives do not earn money of their own. o Symbolic Interaction: Individuals interpret the actions of others and act in ways consistent with their interpretations. Individuals give, and look for, symbolic cues about how to conduct the activities of everyday family life.
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- Fall '08
- Sociology, AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILIES