Unformatted text preview: Changing American Families
December 5th, 2007 Two Fundamental Changes Since the Fifties (Cherlin) 1). Declining Economic Dependence of (White) Women "Weakening" of Marriage 1950s survey: 50% of Americans saw those who didn't want marriage as "sick, selfish or immoral" (Veroff, Douvan, & Kulka 1981) Marriage nearly universal Never marrying, Cohabitation, and Divorce Changes in values, norms, and behaviors Is the growth of individualized marriage a weakening of marriage? Could `better' marriages weaken marriage? Created Selves, Created Families Choices about families tend to be central to self identity. Acquired/Assigned Kinship & Created Kinship Individualism (especially expressive individualism) Ascribed identities achieved identities In the contemporary U.S., identities are mostly reflexive. Reflexivity: think reflection. Person's sense of who he or she is and where he or she fits in the social structure Fixed/Static SelfIdentity Americans now rate marriage as less important than self reliance and selfexpression (at least since 1990s) Table 15.1: Personal Life in Modern Era & Late Modern Era (Cherlin)
Modern Era Late Modern Era Time Period since Industrialization since mid 1900s Behavior ruledirected rulealtering Lifestyle Choices restricted mandatory Kinship Ties acquired created Based on Giddens 1991, 1992, Beck & Beck-Gernsheim 1995, 2002 Kinship Now Requires More Work Increased mobility creates distance between loved ones. Commuter couples are more common. Today, people are more likely to have close relationships with people with whom their lives will not automatically intersect. Compression of timespace distanciation by technology eases kinship work somewhat. Feminization of Kinship Because it takes constant work, women on average do more to keep ties As marriage becomes less stable and kinship remains women's work, men will find themselves without adequate support from kin and friends. Most likely to show up later in life for men
Feminist critiques of the effects of gender differences in family life are not "attacks on men", but are critiques of (1) privilege for some and (2) the disintegration of the social bonds and wellbeing of everyone. Figure 10.1 Actual and estimated population 65 years old and over in the U.S. Suicide Risk of Widowed Elderly Men and Women Erlangsen et al. 2004 Expressive Individualism or Excessive Individualism? Individualism Participation in neighborhoods, community groups, schools (i.e. PTAs), etc. Individualism is a normal good: Higher income allows people to `purchase' individualism *Separate residences vs. nursing homes in old age *Moving out of parents' homes in teens & 20s *Leaving unsatisfying marriages *Buying the freedom of deviance from social norms Individualism may or may not involve indifference to others' wellbeing. Expressive Individualism or Excessive Individualism? Individualism did not cause manufacturing business to go out of the country (outsourcing) and deteriorate young people's (especially black males') labor market prospects Nor did it cause the growth of the service economy and jobs available to women ...
View Full Document
- Fall '08
- Sociology, Cherlin, expressive individualism, Created Kinship Individualism, especially expressive individualism