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Notes 1.31.08 - Family Theories Finish Symbolic...

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1/31/2008 Family Theories Finish Symbolic Interactionist  Social Exchange  Family Life Course Development New! Biosocial Perspective Discuss news critique papers Methods (2) Application of research Tuesday’s Qs
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Family Theories What are the theories & perspectives used to  organize & explain families? Focus Example Strengths & Weaknesses
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Symbolic Interactionist Theory Strengths Understanding of family based on members’  viewpoints. More than one “normal” family form. Limitations Focuses on individual & ignores role of larger  social context. Difficult to test empirically.
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Social Exchange Theory People use their resources to bargain and  secure advantage in relationships. This is a theory that adopts an economic model  of human behavior based on costs,  benefits/rewards, and the expectation of  reciprocity. Grew out of an economic perspective on social  relationships.
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Focus Rational decision-makers Key Concepts: All actions and relationships  are measured on a cost-benefit analysis,  and individuals are assumed to be rational  in the sense that they weigh costs vs.  benefits and engage in  actions/relationships that  maximize their  rewards and minimize their costs .   Behavior  (what individuals do) =  Rewards  of  interaction    costs  of interaction. Do benefits  outweigh costs?
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Equity The principle of equity applies here.  Equity   = Fairness – based on the idea that  partners stay in relationships as long as  they perceive that they are getting what  they deserve; they get something from the  relationships equivalent to what they put  into it. Focuses on the exchange of resources  (benefits) between family members » tangible resources – money, social  status, security
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» intangible resources – intelligence,  sense of humor, attractiveness. Family rewarding The family group is considered to be a  source of rewards for individual family  members Well, social exchange theories explain this  with the following two principles.  Comparison Level of Alternatives  = We  consider the other options to our current  situation.   Exit costs  or barriers to leaving —the costs of leaving a relationship 
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days, no means of financially supporting  oneself).  Tend to stay in unrewarding  relationship when exit costs are high.
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Example: Relationship satisfaction.
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