Define Family Traditionally
Family consists of people related by blood, marriage or adoption.

Census bureau: “a group of two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoptions residing in a household together”

What is a traditional family?
The 50s:
-People married at a younger age, had children earlier, completed families by late 20s.
-Today, 7% of families fit in that category.
American Families Today-
Currently married, postponement of marriage (what instead)
-Fewer people are currently married
– 62% in 1990, 52% in 2005

-Women and men are postponing marriage longer
-Wanting to cohabitate instead
-More than 50% of first marriage are preceeded by cohabitation.

Living Alone
-Large amount of people living alone
-Over 1/4 of households are single person
-Average size of U.S household has dropped

Young adults 18-24
56% of men, 46% of women lived with parents

Adults 25-34
52% live with spouses but
14% of men
7% of women live with parents

Moving Back Home/ Multigenerational Households
-Extended education, delayed marriage, high housing costs/financial pressures.

-3.7% of households are multigenerational
-Likely to be found in:
-of new immigration
-where there are housing shortages
-w/ high proportions of unwed mothers
-65% of multigenerational households consist of a grandparent providing a home for an adult child and grandchildren.

-dropped or rose?
-Birth to unmarried moms
-Parenthood is incresingly postponed and ferility has declined.
-Total fertility rate dropped:
-1976: 1.7
-1957: 3.6
-Now: 2

Nonmarital birth rate is increasing again after a period of stability
-Birth to unmarried mothers
-4% in 1950
-18% of all births in 1980
-37% of all births in 2005
(almost half of nonmarital births occur to cohabitating couples.)

Divorce Rates
Divorce rates have stablizing but remained at high levels.
-40-50% will end in divorce
-Remarriage rates have declined but REMAIN HIGH
-Remarriage rates of men are higher
Aging Population
-Baby boom generation
Population is aging.
-Generation of older americans have
-lower levels of poverty, disabilities, higher education, remain independent longer

More older men than older women are married:
71% of 65 and older men
41% of women

New Definition of Family
-Sexually expressive, parent child, or other kin relationship in which people related by ancestry, marriage or adoption…
1. Form an economic unit and care for young
2. Consider this identity to be attached to group
3. Commit to maintaing the group over time

Often defined by:
1. Who they are
2. What they do

Functions of the Family
Socialization of the children
-discipline and guidance
Emotional Support
Prestige and Statu
-Growing or diminishing?
-There are now fewer children and more elderly.

Children under 18- 36% of the pop. in 1964
Children under 18- 25% of the pop. in 2005

Fewer than half of all married couples contained children in 2005

Children’s Living Situations
-single parent households
-living with grandparents
Majority of children live in 2 parent households.
67% of children under 18 lived with 2 parents
28% lived with one parent

Over last 5 years, proportion of children living with single parents has stabilized,
Single parent household grew in first half of 90s.
Declined slightly since.

4 times as many single mother households as single father households.

-Children are more likely to live with a grandparent than in the recent past.
1970- 3% lived in a household w/ a grandparent
2001- 9%

Children in Two-Parent Households
88% live with biological parents
6% with biological mother and stepfather
1% biological father and stepmother
1% with adoptive mother and father
1% with adoptive father and biological mother
Parents in Married Couple Households Workwise
Most are working parents
-Almost 2/3 of children have two working parents
-Children in single parent are more likely to have employed parents
Poverty Rate for Children
Children are more likely than the general population or elderly to live in poverty.

17.5% of children in poverty
11.1% of adults in povertyy
10.1% of elderly

Child poverty rate lower now than 22.3% in 1983
but higher than in 1970

Family Values and Familism
91% of Americans report that family relations are extremely important to them.

Family values- family togetherness, stability, and loyalty that focus on family as a whole.

Familism- When family well being is placed over individual interests and preferences.

Family Boundaries
Create boundaries between themselves and rest of the world
Mark off:
-physical space
-psychological space

They determine what is allowed to enter the family space and under what conditions.

Familistic (Communal) Values
Individualistic Values
Communal values:
-Familistic values such as family togetherness, stability and loyalty focus on the family as a whole.
-Emphasize the needs, goals, and identity of the GROUP

Individualistic Values
-Encourage people to think in terms of personal happiness and goals (development of a distinct identity)
-An individualistic orientation gives more weight to the expression of individual preferences and the maximization of individual talents and options.

-What can they do for us?
-Provides us with ways of looking at and rationally explaining phenomena related to the family.
-Neither right or wrong
-No one theory can tell us everything

Good Theory:
-explain the nature of a phenomenon
-make good predictions
-look at the relationship between things

Structural Functional Framework Theory
Family Structure
-Composition and Individual Roles
-Consistent across cultures
a. Socialization of the children
b. Economic support
c. Emotional security
Structural Functional Framework Theory
-Porpositions/Basic Notions
Propositions/Basic Notions:
-Family is an insitutition with values, norms and activities
-Structure leads to consequences for members
-Families composed of interdependent parts/linked as a whole
-Harmonious independent parts (members)
-Members need each other
-Order and Predictability are good
-equilibirum and consensus
-Predominant structure of family
-hetero, nuclear –> normal good functional
-Structure essential for performing necessary social functions
Structural Functional Framework Theory
-What They Study
Interactionalists Perspective
Social Interchanges
-The interactions of family members
-How family members interact depends on:
–self-identity (social roles and unique selves)
–process of determining appropriate behavior in interaction

Roles of family members
-How roles are developed and maintained
-Process of determining appropriate behavior in interaction
–Shared understandings of how people should act and create the basis of social roles

Interactionalists Perspective
1. Each family is unique
2. Roles developed from interactions
3. Individuals create their own reality
Interactionalists Perspective
What they Study
Marital Interactions
-Role Strain due to multiple roles
-Marital Satisfaction
-Sexual Relationships
-How couples interact to develop a couple identity
Family Development/ Family Life Cycle Framework
Typical Stages of Family Life?
Emphasizes how families change over time by identifying…
-stages of the traditional family cycle
-the development tasks associated with stages

Typical stages of family life
Marked by:
– Gain or loss of family members
– Stages kids go through
– Changes in familys connection with other social institutions

Family Development/Family Life Cycle Framework
-Families change in predictable ways over time
-At each stage, there are certain developmental tasks that must be accomplished
-If tasks at stage 1 are not accomplished, functioning at further stages will be impaired.

Stages and Development Tasks
1. Newly Married Couple
2. Childbearing
3. Preschool
4. School Age
5. Teenage Age
6. Middle-Aged Parents
7. Aging Family Members

Family Development/Life Cycle Framework
What they Study
1. takes longer to earn enough to support a family
2. education more essential for a stable job
3. parents subsidizing young adults education, housing, career
4. longer period of self-development

PRO: useful in working with families who are facing life cycle transitions
CON: not everyone fits into stages

Theories and Research
– A good way to learn more about families
a. data gathered systematically through scientific observation
b. Using scientific method by looking at the family with objectivity- looking at a situation and drawing conclusions which are unaffected by ones own beliefs.
Research- how is it done?
1. Surveys: a study in which individuals from a geographic area are selected, usually at random, and asked a fixed set of questions
2. Observations- A study in which the researcher spends time directly observing each participant (laboratory or naturalistic)
3. Clinician Case studies- info obtained from individuals or families in treatment
4. Longitudinal Studies- interviews conducted several times at regular intervals
Research: Surveys
– Method
-Pros, Cons
-National Surveys
Primary Source of info about family life
1. Face to face
2. Telephone interview
3. Questionnaire

Format of ?’s
1. Statement with specific response choices
2. Open-ended questions

1. Better understanding of family dynamics
1. Generalizability
2. Representative Sample
3. Tendency to give socially acceptable answers
4. Limited response choices

National Surveys
-Use in-person interviews
-Are longitudinal (conducted several times at regular intervals)
-Intended to be public resources
-Conducted by Academic Researchers

Laboratory Observations
-Pros, Cons
-Experimental Conditions
Experimental Conditions:
-Families are assigned to 1 of a number of groups
-Comparisons are then made
Pro: Scientists can control the experiences of participants
Cons: May not represent what they do outside the lab environment
-Generalizability problemos
Naturalistic Observations
-Observations of family in natural environment

-view behavior as it occurs in natural environment

disadvantage: highly subjective- what one observers thinks

Clinician Case Studies
Similar to naturalistic observations

Advantages: intimate, in-depth knowledge
Disadvantages: subjective, people in counseling not represented

Longitudinal Studies
Study families over a period of time
Advantages: can show changes over time
Systems Theory
System: any set of objects that relate to each other in a way that creates a new superentity.
-Voundary maintained unit composed of interrelated and independent parts.

-Family as a system
-Family Boundaries
-Family change vs. equilibrium

Systems Theory
-Basic Assumptions
1. Family is a social system with numerous subsystems.
2. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
– More than a collection of individuals
– Natural social system with its own rules, roles, power structure, communication patterns
3. Locus of pathology is not within the person but is a system dysfunction.
-Individuals is NOT a unit of focus
-Location of problem is in dysfunctional system
4. Circular Casualty guide behavior vs. linear casualty
2. Circular Causality
-with human social interaction there are a number of focuses moving in many directions simultaneously.
European Colonists
-Barely any establish institutions
-Family was required by law to teach kids to read, write, etc.
-Families homes were local infirmaries, hospitals
-Increased number of houses of corrections- prisoners in a family home
-Poor houses, took in impoverished people
-Family worship
-Informal marriages were very common
-Dramatic changes
-$ earned outside of the home- separate home/work spheres
Great Depression
-Delayed marriage and parenthood
-Divorce rate rose after depression
-Fewer children
-Family supported extended family members
-Men off at work..whos working?
-Encouraged women to work (“we can do it”)
-Daycares become popular
-Assumed teenagers could handle all jobs
-After WWII ended, women went back to home as well as teens because they were declared incapable of working
-Baby Boomers Age- economic boom where one person working could support a family.
-People could afford to get married and have kids
-Feminist movement
1960’s and 1970’s
-Post Baby Boom
-Rates of marriage went down while divorce rates went up
-Economic independence for women
Median Household Income 1965-2005
Poverty Rate 1959-2005
$35,379 –> $46,326

1959- 23% in poverty
2005- 12.6% in poverty

Economic Inequality
Economic Inequality is rising in the US
Middle class has failed to gain ground and is shrinking

Income over $75k:
9 in 10 have a computer
8 in 10 have internet

Income under 25K
40% have computer
30% have internet access

Age Structure
-Increased longevity
Longer marriages
Longer retirement
Increased need for care for the elderly
More years invested in education
Race is a social construct reflecting how Americans think about different social groups.
Heredity = physical differences

2000 census used 5 major races:
1. White
2. Black/African American
3. Asian
4. American Indian/ Alaskan Native
5. Hawaiin / Pacific Islander

Ethnicity refers to cultural distinctions often based on language, religion and history.
-People who think of themselves as distinct w/ common ancestry and shared culture

DIversity in the US
66% non-hispanic white
14% Hispanic
12.8% black
4.2% asian
1% American Indian/ Alaska Native
Less than 1% Native Hawaiian

Childrens population is more ethically diverse than the adult population

African American Families
-30% of African American couples earned $50,000 or more in 2005.
-Black women are twice as likely than whites to suffer from the death of an infant.
-Only 35% of black are living with married parents, as opposed to 76% of whites and 65% of Hispanic kids.
-1960s= more than 70% of black families headed by married couples
-2004=46% headed by married couples
Latino (Hispanic) Families
-Many are recent immigrants from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean or South America.
-Majority of U.S Latinos were born in this country, but 40% were foreign born.
-28% of Latino children are poor compared to 18% of all children.
-Only 57% of Latinos graduate from H.S and 11% from college.
-Hispanics are most likely to be employed in service level occupations and to have higher rates of unemployment.
Asian American Families
-One of the fastets growing ethnic groups
-Highest proportion of college graduates
-High representation in managerial professional occupations, and family incomes are highest of all ethnic groups.
Pacific Islander Families
-Native Hawaiins, Samoans, and Guamians
-American citizens by birth
-More likely to reside in family households than the U.S population
-Median household income is slightly highers and poverty is slightly lower than for total U.S
Native American
-Over 500 federally recognized tribes
-SOme tribes were dissolved in latter half of the 19th century
-Assimiltion Policies: creation of boarding school: children placed for years w/ little contact with family or tribe
-One of the poorest racial/ehtnic groups in the U.S
-25% poverty rate

American Indians have high rates of adolescent and nonmarital births
-62% of births are to unmarried women

White Families
-More likely to be a married couple
Less likely to have family members beyond the nuclear family residing with it.
Multicultural Families
7% of married-couple households include spouses whose racial/ethnic identities differ.
15% of opposite sex partners and male same sex partners
13% of female partners report different racial/ethnic identities.

Multiracial families are increasingly common in the U.S
Formed through:
-interracial marriage
-nonmarital partnership
-adoption of children across racial lines


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