SOC 352 Chapter 5

SOC 352 Chapter 5 - HARPMC05_0131884980.QXD 11/7/06 1:34 AM...

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82 Now we move away from macroscopic social trends and explore change in those settings and institutions closer to our everyday lives. Your life is greatly affected by the general characteristics of the population, and particularly by the experiences of your agemates with whom you compete (though you may be unaware of these influ- ences). But certainly you are aware of the powerful impacts of changing families, Change in the Settings of Everyday Life: Populations, Families, and Work Chapter 5 The growing diversity of American households. The extended family around the dinner table at Thanksgiving, and the gay couple holding hands symbolize the growing diversity and conflict surrounding American family life. As two incomes become the standard for defining economic success, more women juggle work and family roles. The American population is aging as baby- boomers reach retirement age and people live longer. HARPMC05_0131884980.QXD 11/7/06 1:34 AM Page 82
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work, and careers on the lives of individuals. It is a real challenge to locate your indi- vidual biography and life circumstances in relation to these larger social contexts. But it is important that you do so. DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE Demographic change refers to changes in the population characteristics of a society. America’s population is growing, though not nearly as rapidly as those in developing nations in other parts of the world. If trends continue, the U.S. Census Bureau now predicts that by 2050 the United States will have a population of 393 million, and much of this growth will be fueled by those immigrants and their children who came after 1991. Latinos, both native born and immigrants, have replaced African Americans as the largest ethnic minority group, and their population is growing faster than any other ethnic group in the United States (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 2005b). Communities of Asian Americans will continue to grow. In fact, the ethnic diversity of the entire population will increase, so that by sometime around 2050 persons of European ancestry will comprise only about 50 percent of Americans, down from 75 percent in the 1990s (cited in Newman, 1995:453–454). Immigration and Diversity Increasing immigration and ethnic diversity causes intense social and political controversies. We’re sure this is no surprise to you. Our popular media and political talk is full of concerns about this phenomenon. Many argue that rapid immigration threatens to overburden the American economy and social programs (such as educa- tional and health care services); most important, they say, it calls into question the coherence of our culture, language, and national identity—“who and what Americans are.” Yet while rapid immigration causes problems, some facts about immigrants and the immigration process are not widely understood. For instance, most immi- grants (over 80 percent) come to the United States legally, and undocumented (“illegal”) immigrants make up only about 1 percent of the total population. Most
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2009 for the course SOC SOC 352 taught by Professor Whitaker during the Spring '09 term at ASU.

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SOC 352 Chapter 5 - HARPMC05_0131884980.QXD 11/7/06 1:34 AM...

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