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The first study of marital power was performed in 1960. Researchers found that the person with the most access to value resources held the most power. As money is one of the most valuable resources, men who worked in paid labor outside of the home held more power than women who worked inside the home (Blood and Wolfe 1960). Conflict theorists find disputes over the division of household labor to be a common source of marital discord. Household labor offers no wages and, therefore, no power. Studies indicate that when men do more housework, women experience more satisfaction in their marriages, reducing the incidence of conflict (Coltrane 2000). In general, conflict theorists tend to study areas of marriage and life that involve inequalities or discrepancies in power and authority, as they are reflective of the larger social structure.

Symbolic interactionism

Interactionists view the world in terms of symbols and the meanings assigned to them (LaRossa and Reitzes 1993). The family itself is a symbol. To some, it is a father, mother, and children; to others, it is any union that involves respect and compassion. Interactionists stress that family is not an objective, concrete reality. Like other social phenomena, it is a social construct that is subject to the ebb and flow of social norms and ever-changing meanings.

Consider the meaning of other elements of family: “parent” was a symbol of a biological and emotional connection to a child; with more parent-child relationships developing through adoption, remarriage, or change in guardianship, the word “parent” today is less likely to be associated with a biological connection than with whoever is socially recognized as having the responsibility for a child’s upbringing. Similarly, the terms “mother” and “father” are no longer rigidly associated with the meanings of caregiver and breadwinner. These meanings are more free-flowing through changing family roles.

Interactionists also recognize how the family status roles of each member are socially constructed, playing an important part in how people perceive and interpret social behavior. Interactionists view the family as a group of role players or “actors” that come together to act out their parts in an effort to construct a family. These roles are up for interpretation. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a “good father,” for example, was one who worked hard to provided financial security for his children. Today, a “good father” is one who takes the time outside of work to promote his children’s emotional well-being, social skills, and intellectual growth—in some ways, a much more daunting task.

Summary

People's concepts of marriage and family in the United States are changing. Increases in cohabitation, same-sex partners, and singlehood are altering of our ideas of marriage. Similarly, single parents, same-sex parents, cohabitating parents, and unwed parents are changing our notion of what it means to be a family. While most children still live in opposite-sex, two-parent, married households, that is no longer viewed as the only type of nuclear family.

Short answer

Explain the different variations of the nuclear family and the trends that occur in each.

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Why are some couples choosing to cohabitate before marriage? What effect does cohabitation have on marriage?

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Further research

For more statistics on marriage and family, see the Forum on Child and Family Statistics at (External Link) , as well as the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the U.S. Census decennial survey at (External Link) .

References

Bakalar, Nicholas. 2010. “Education, Faith, and a Likelihood to Wed.” New York Times , March 22 . Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Biblarz, Tim. J., and Judith Stacey. 2010. “How Does the Gender of Parents Matter?” Journal of Marriage and Family 72:3–22.

Blood, Robert Jr. and Donald Wolfe. 1960. Husbands and Wives: The Dynamics of Married Living . Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.

Coltrane, Scott. 2000. “Research on Household Labor: Modeling and Measuring the Social Embeddedness of Routine Family Work.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62:1209–1233.

Crano, William, and Joel Aronoff. 1978. “A Cross-Cultural Study of Expressive and Instrumental Role Complementarity in the Family.” American Sociological Review 43:463–471.

De Toledo, Sylvie, and Deborah Edler Brown. 1995. Grandparents as Parents: A Survival Guide for Raising a Second Family . New York: Guilford Press.

Hurley, Dan. 2005. “Divorce Rate: It’s Not as High as You Think.” New York Times , April 19 . Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Jayson, Sharon. 2010. “Report: Cohabiting Has Little Effect on Marriage Success.” USA Today , October 14. Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

LaRossa, Ralph, and Donald Reitzes. 1993. “Symbolic Interactionism and Family Studies.” Sourcebook of Family Theories and Methods: A Contextual Approach . New York: Plenum Press.

Lee, Gary. 1982. Family Structure and Interaction: A Comparative Analysis . Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Roberts, Sam. 2007. “51% of Women Are Now Living Without a Spouse.” New York Times , January 16. Retrieved from February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

U.S. Census Bureau. 1997. “Children With Single Parents – How They Fare.” Retrieved January 16, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

U.S. Census Bureau. 2009. “American Community Survey (ACS).” Retrieved January 16, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

U.S. Census Bureau. 2010. “Current Population Survey (CPS).” Retrieved January 16, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

U.S. Census Bureau. 2011. “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Retrieved January 16, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Venugopal, Arun. 2011. “New York Leads in Never-Married Women.” WNYC , December 10. Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Waite, Linda, and Lee Lillard. 1991. “Children and Marital Disruption.” American Journal of Sociology 96(4):930–953.

Questions & Answers

explain major contributions of Charles Wright Mills and Augusto Comte to the discipline of sociology
lugumba Reply
importance of sociology in logic if some one knows about plz help
Saqib
what are importance of studying sociology
Neema Reply
1 sociology detects and Solve Social Problems 2Sociology Helps in Planning and Development 3. Sociology makes a scientific study of Sociology 4 studies role of the institutions in the development of the individuals. 5 Helps in Preservation and Growth of Culture
manisha
6.sociology has made broaden the outlook of man. 7 Sociology is of great importance in the solution of international problems. 
manisha
eplayn philosopher of sociology
Mujahid Reply
explain philosopher of sociology
Mujahid
me
Ashebir
what is the difference between asocialist group on all definitions?
Koko Reply
what is the value of sociology
Banao Reply
What are the patterns of social interaction with regard to gender, religion and education
Norman Reply
define functionalist perspective
Jalil
what is cultural
nusrat Reply
culture is the way of life of a particular group of people
Philemon
culture is the backbone of society.
shahnam
culture consists of the beliefs' behaviour' objects' and other characteristics common to the members of particular group of society.
Zahid
culture is our way of life, customs ,traditions ,norms nd behavoiur
musharaf
can anyone explain what is socialogy as science in detail ?
Sydish Reply
sociology is a science because it adoptes and applies the scientific method . sociology does make a scientific method in the study of its subject matter.hence sociology is a science
Zahid
because its study the systematically about society
Akak
in secince we use tools such as thermometers telescopes microscope verniercliper etc similarly in sociology we tools interview questionare servey case study sampling etc so sociology is a science.
shahnam
scientific study of society is called sociology it involves scientific method, observation, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusions , this study produces theories and facts about society , that's why it is science
sohrab
explayn philosopher of socilogy
Mujahid
is caste system dangerous in politics? how
Zahid Reply
In present days the main caused for winning the election,after that they influence in any field
Akak
by those activities a father will become enemy to his son hence we should control it
Zahid
is it possible that marriage some places is being done between man's
Zahid Reply
No it is not possible.
umar_king
yeah itz hpns
musharaf
but in western some places it is possible as I considered a book there shows
Zahid
dear friends how then there born babies plz help me
Zahid
mee toooo
musharaf
dear friends I just know that there doesn't born babies
Zahid
they dont bother about thier offsprings nd it hpns in very rare cases in western societies
musharaf
ya right
Zahid
what is mean by ID
Bk Reply
what is counter culture
Jalil
what are the importance of social science on health care
Philemon Reply
the social sciences can contribute to preventing and treating illness by pinpointing the env.settings nd social relationships
musharaf
child poverty in social influences
Hash Reply
Often associated to food insecurity, children living below the poverty line are at an increased risk for becoming both malnourished and overweight. This can highly affect a child’s confidence. Moreover, evidence suggests that many of the effects of poverty on children are often added to by their fam
manisha
India is battling poverty for nearly 60 years now. And, with the help of new policies that strive to empower and spread awareness about the fundamental rights of children, along with participation and activities initiated by CRY – Child Rights and You, the children of India are sure to see a better
manisha
Does sociology have to deal with only interaction and society
Glory Reply
no
Illiasu
no it touches every aspect of social system...
Gh
hmm. :-)
manisha
it deals with society also but as whole....
Gh
tells about drawbacks and government plans..and makes us focus on what can be done for improvement. like for. eg. in agricultural practices what farmers need to do for better crops.
manisha
yeh absolutely
Gh
according to Emile Durkheim sociology is study of social institutions also.....
Gh
and financial institutions also like commercial banks
manisha
hmm also study about market as a social institution....
Gh
world topics like globalisation modernization and different movements. government plans.
manisha
socilogy also study process such as..... sanskritisatoion ,westernization and modernization also
Gh
yes
MRM
YES
Anas
yeah
gerardo
how we will define status and role?
Saqib
maybe
gerardo
what are the effects of sociology to education
Ndubuisi
what is culture integration
Tariq Reply
define socialization
Ndubuisi
Socialization iz a process of learning.
Dr
Education for effective citizens and civic responsibility discuss
Ndubuisi
Thank you Dr Muzammil
Ndubuisi
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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