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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

whom we can call a social scientist or sociologist? A sociology graduate or a social work graduate
Arvind Reply
social scientist is not all about our degrees
musharaf
that is what you say, but I believe you
Powell
I didn't understood your reply.
Arvind
whose?
musharaf
actually what I believe, is that sociology deals with the creating theories methodologies and analysis. whereas social work deals with actual ground level implementation of the these theories, methodologies to create impact at actual ground level
Arvind
powel's
Arvind
we cant consider sociology graduate as social scientist. master of sociology or scholar is comsidered aa.....
musharaf
Can one be a "professional " Sociologist without a degree Certificate?
Powell Reply
Yes please
Oduro
yeah
musharaf
Okay I am a dropout
Powell
in my finals
Powell
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Powell
what Alex Inkeles said in his book ,"what is sociology" ?
Madiha Reply
The great contemplators right from Comte to Behredeit had been the followers of this approach. As Alex inkles said; Sociology is the study of systems of social action & of their inter-relations. As Young, Raymond says, it is the scientific study of social aspects of human life.
Wasem
Topics: The subject matter of sociology -- The sociological perspective -- Models of society in sociological analysis -- Conceptions of man in sociological analysis -- Basic elements of social life -- Fundamental social processes -- Models of inquiry in sociology -- Sociology as a profession
PUBG
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PUBG
Dear give a brief introduction about Sociology as a profession
Wasem
subject matter of sociology
Madiha
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Wasem
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Wasem
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PUBG
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PUBG
What is contemporary family
DAMBA
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Wasem
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DAMBA
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Wasem
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PUBG
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PUBG
Madiha sociology has its own subject matter. Some critics were that sociology has been parcelled out from other social sciences but now sociology is called mother of all social sciences.
PUBG
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PUBG
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PUBG
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Wasem
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Wasem
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PUBG
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musharaf
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Madiha
Yep
PUBG
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PUBG
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Wasem
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Wasem
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musharaf
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PUBG
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musharaf
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musharaf
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musharaf
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PUBG
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musharaf
How Louis wirth called Urbanism as an ideal type when it prevails in real form?
Wasem Reply
sir, what is sociology modern trends?
Sandeep Reply
what is the difference between magic and totka
Ravi Reply
Do u got the answer
PUBG
in what ways will American families likely change in structure and process in the future?
Eboni Reply
One way is that the traditional roles of the male being the sole breadwinner will most likely change where it is not uncommon for women to be breadwinners as well
Kimmy
how does society cause desaeas
Kahange Reply
what is deviant behavior and why is relative.
Haruna
How Louis wirth called urbanisation as an ideal type when it prevails in reality?
Wasem
samajsatra ki paribhasha de
Ali Reply
wt
Aijaz
समाजशास्त्र मानव समाज का अध्ययन है। यह सामाजिक विज्ञान की एक शाखा है, जो मानवीय सामाजिक संरचना और गतिविधियों से संबंधित जानकारी को परिष्कृत करने और उनका विकास करने के लिए, अनुभवजन्य विवेचनऔर विवेचनात्मक विश्लेषण की विभिन्न पद्धतियों का उपयोग करता है।
Soumya
समाज के विभिन्न पहलुओं के क्रमबद्ध अध्ययन को समाजशास्त्र कहते हैं |
Soumya
समाजशास्त्र मानव समाज का अध्ययन है। यह सामाजिक विज्ञान की एक शाखा है, जो मानवीय सामाजिक संरचना और गतिविधियों से संबंधित जानकारी को परिष्कृत करने और उनका विकास करने के लिए, अनुभवजन्य विवेचनऔर विवेचनात्मक विश्लेषण की विभिन्न पद्धतियों का उपयोग करता है।
Soumya
what is sociology?
Dulom
the study of human behaviour and its environment
Jimmy
The study of human behaviour beliefs etc.study of man's life from woom to tom
Zahid
what's criminal investigation?
Haruna
it is simple be defines as the process of collecting information or evidence about a particular issues eg.place, when, interrogation and many more
Oduro
what is the nature of social problem?
rashid
relative deprivation
Batch Reply
Why is Max Weber different from other founding fathers of sociology
Bertha Reply
He's a sociologist that looks at society at macro level & is a conflict theorist that looks at the inequalities within society. For example functionalists (Emile Durkheim) focuses on value consensus. On the other hand Marxists view the inequalities.
Kimmy
what problems sociologist faced in their profession
Mishi Reply
The sociologists professional ethics defines the rules of the sociologists professional activities. Observing moral standards is an expression of care not only for the sociologists common good, but also for the society common good as the society is examined by the sociologists and the soci
Aijaz
It varries from country to country. As it is comparatively a new profession, I think job placement itself is one among the key concern for the new Sociologists. Main reason is that what they do is usually considered to be something that is not as good as what other professionals do.
Naughty
thanks
Mishi
who is Karl Marx
Cyborg Reply
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary. Born in Trier, Germany, to a Jewish middle-class family, Marx studied law and philosophy at university.
Aijaz
okay
Haruna
Charz fond of watching Tv series she spends most of her time after school hours watching TV consequently she had very poor performance in her academic year exams. using the behavioral theories describe charz problem and suggest ways to solve it.
Chax Reply
l really want to know the main difference between culture and society
Kaifa Reply
Society is composed of people where as culture is what they think and what they do. Culture is the way people live. Society is a larger group of people. Their similar ways of living constitute their culture.
Naughty
sure
ROBERT
exactly, thanks.
Hawa
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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