Essay on Single Parent Homes

Essay on Single Parent Homes - 1 A Sociological Analysis of...

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1 A Sociological Analysis of the Debate Over the Prevalence of Single Parent Family Structure Among African Americans
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2 Over the years the evolution of the structure and functions of the family have made this institution a hotly debated topic in the public arena. The most combative of U.S. social policy has evolved around the idea of utilizing social policy to somehow "strengthen" the family by propagating traditional gender roles and nuclear family ideals or by addressing the various social and economic factors that act as push factors for familial change. In respect to the debate over the causes and solutions to the prevalence of single-parent family structure among African Americans, it seems as though the issue of causality has been divided along cultural and structural lines. Advocates of the cultural theory to describe the deterioration of a nuclear family structure amongst African Americans lend heavily to gender and racial ideology and propose solutions to the issue that reek of traditional American ideological bias. Proponents of the structural theory for the changing structure of African American families conversely root their ideas in concrete empirical evidence as well as first hand interviews with members of the culture in question. This paper will serve as an analysis of both the cultural and structural theories, and will also discuss the prevailing reasons why the structural theory and its proposed solutions will better serve the functions of public policy and the plight of African American people themselves. The argument posed by proponents of the cultural theory simply serves to rationalize the deterioration of traditional family ideals amongst impoverished African Americans by pushing racial, gender and class ideology. This is most evident in Patricia Hill Collins' article "A Comparison of Two Works on Black Family Life", an analysis of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's report, "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action" and Bill Moyer's "The Vanishing Family: Crisis in Black America". Both works are exposed to lack in supporting evidence, and to pose claims about African American culture and resulting family structure that disregards the prevalence of middle and upper class family structures, fails to address alternative family structures, and under emphasizes the effects of racism and discrimination on the socioeconomic status of African Americans as a whole (Collins 1989, pg 2). The underlying assumption is that
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3 the attitudes and ideals of white middle class Americans are the driving factors behind their socioeconomic successes, and the fact that African Americans lack these particular characteristics condemns them to poverty and familial dysfunction. According to Moyers and Moynihan, the deterioration of African American values is the primary cause of such phenomena as illegitimacy and the prevalence of mostly impoverished single-parent families. Maxine Baca Zinn, in her article "Family, Race, and Poverty in the Eighties" best describes the argument
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