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Chapter 5 – Family Problems

by: Jazlin Perez

Chapter 5 – Family Problems ASOC180

Marketplace > SUNY Albany > Sociology > ASOC180 > Chapter 5 Family Problems
Jazlin Perez


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Chapter 5 – Family Problems Pages 140 - 172 Book: Understanding Social Problems, 10th Edition Authors: Linda A. Mooney, Ph.D.; David Knox, Ph.D.; Caroline Schacht, M.A.
Social Problems
Shanza Malik
Class Notes
Social Science, SocialProblems
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jazlin Perez on Sunday October 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ASOC180 at SUNY Albany taught by Shanza Malik in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Social Problems in Sociology at SUNY Albany.


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Date Created: 10/16/16
Chapter 5 – Family Problems: ( PAGES 140 - 172 ) The Global Context: Family Forms and Norms Around the World o Family – a kinship system of all relatives living together or recognized as a social unit, including adopted people o Monogamy – marriage btw 2 partners; only legal form of marriage in US o Serial monogamy – succession of marriages in which a person has 1+ spouses over a lifetime but is legally married to only one person at a time o Polygamy – form of marriage in which a person has 1+ spouses  Polygyny – form of marriage in which one husband has 1+ wives  Polyandry – concurrent marriage of 1 woman to 2+ men o Bigamy – crime in U.S. of marrying 1 person while still legally married to another  Parents arrange marriages based on social class, religion, politics, aristocracy, and/or occupation  Many societies promote male dominance – thus leading to husbands’ dominance over wives.  In developed Western countries, marriages tend to be more egalitarian.  Women and men view each other as equal partners.  Partners share decision making and assign family roles based on choice rather than on traditional beliefs about gender.  In less developed societies, women get married younger and are expected to have many children.  Norms about childbirth out of wedlock also vary across the globe.  In some countries, homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or even death.  In a handful of countries, and in some U.S. states, same-sex couples are granted legal rights to marry. Contemporary U.S. Families: Patterns, Trends and Variations  Some of the significant changes in U.S. families and households that have occurred over the past several decades include the following:  Increased singlehood and older age at first marriage.  Increased heterosexual and same-sex cohabitation.  Some states, cities, counties, and employers allow unmarried partners (same-sex and/or heterosexual partners) to apply for a domestic partnership designation.  Grants some legal entitlements.  Health insurance benefits  Inheritance rights  Increased three-generation family households:  May be due to:  economic need  cultural values  generational needs such as grandparents needing assistance with daily care or, more commonly, parents needing assistance with child care Martial Decline Perspective  Personal happiness has become more important than martial commitment and family obligations  The decline in lifelong marriage and the increase in single-parent families have contributed to a variety of social problems, such as poverty, delinquency, substance abuse, violence, and the erosion of neighborhoods and communities Martial Resiliency Perspective  Poverty, unemployment, poorly funded schools, discrimination, and the lack of basic services represents more serious threats to the well-being of children and adults than does the decline in married to-parent families  Many marriages in the past were troubled, because divorce was not socially acceptable, these problematic marriages remained intact Structural-Functionalist Perspective  The family is a social institution that performs important functions for society, including producing and socializing new members, regulating sexual activity and procreation, and providing physical and emotional care for family members.  Traditional gender roles contribute to family functioning.  Women perform “expressive” roles  Men perform “instrumental” roles Conflict and Feminist Perspective o Conflict theory – focuses on how capitalism, social class, and power influence marriages and families o Feminist theory – concerned with how gender inequalities influence and are influenced by … Symbolic Interactionist Perspective  Concerned w/ how labels affect meaning and behavior  Symbolic interactionist also point to the effects of interaction on one’s self-concept, especially the self-concept of children  This perspective is useful in understand the dynamics of domestic violence and abuse Problems Associated with Divorce  Divorce is considered problematic because of the negative effects it has on children as well as the difficulties it causes for adults. 2  However, in some societies, legal and social barriers to divorce are considered problematic because such barriers limit the options of spouses in unhappy and abusive marriages.  Certain social and cultural factors contribute to marital breakup: 1. Changing function of marriage. 2. Increased economic autonomy of women. 3. Increased work demands and economic stress. 4. Inequality in marital division of labor. 5. Liberalized divorce laws. 6. Increased Individualism 7. Weak social ties. 8. Increased life expectancy. o Second Shift: The household work and child care that employed parents (usually women) do when they return home from their jobs. o No-fault Divorce: A divorce that is granted based on the claim that there are irreconcilable differences within a marriage (as opposed to one spouse being legally at fault for the marital breakup). o Individualism: The tendency to focus on one’s individual self-interests and personal happiness rather than on the interests of one’s family and community.  Divorced individuals have more health problems and a higher risk of mortality than married individuals.  They also experience lower levels of psychological well-being, including more unhappiness, depression, anxiety, and poorer self-concepts.  There tends to be a dramatic drop in women’s income and a slight drop in men’s income.  Divorced individuals have a lower standard of living, have less wealth, and experience greater economic hardship, although this difference is considerably greater for women than for men.  Parental divorce is a stressful event for children, often accompanied by stressors such as:  continuing conflict between parents  a decline in the standard of living  moving and perhaps changing schools  separation from the noncustodial parent (usually the father)  parental remarriage  These stressors place children of divorce at higher risk for a variety of emotional and behavioral problems.  Young adults whose parents divorced are less likely to report having a close relationship with their father compared with children whose parents are together.  Children may benefit from having more quality time with their fathers after parental divorce.  Some fathers report that they became more active in the role of father after divorce.  The intentional efforts of one parent to turn a child against the other parent and essentially destroy any positive relationship a child has with the other parent.  Long-term effects of parental alienation on children can include low self-esteem, depression, drug and alcohol problems, mistrust, and divorce (Baker 2007). 3  The effects on the rejected parent are equally devastating. Strategies to Strengthen Marriage and Prevent Divorce  Marriage Education  Marriage education, also known as family life education, includes various types of workshops and classes that: 1. teach relationship skills, communication, and problem solving 2. convey the idea that sustaining healthy marriages requires effort 3. convey the importance of having realistic expectations of marriage, commitment, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices  Covenant Marriage and Divorce Law Reform  With the passing of the 1996 Covenant Marriage Act, Louisiana became the first state to offer two types of marriage contracts: 1. The standard marriage contract that allows a no-fault divorce (after a 6 month separation) 2. A covenant marriage, which permits divorce only under condition of fault (e.g., abuse, adultery, or felony conviction) or after a 2-yr separation  Workplace and Economic Supports  The most important pro-marriage and divorce-prevention measures may be those that maximize employment and earnings  Research finds a link btw financial hardship and marital quality  Policies to strengthen marriage should include a focus on the economic well-being of poor and near-poor couples and families  The post-divorce conflict btw parents is most traumatic for children o Forgiveness - Research suggests that divorced parents who forgive each other are more likely to have positive and cooperative co-parenting after divorce. o Divorce Education Programs - designed to help parents reduce parental conflict and educate them about the factors that affect their children’s adjustment. o Divorce Mediation - divorcing couples meet with a mediator, who helps them resolve issues of property division, child support, child custody, and spousal support (i.e., alimony) in a way that minimizes conflict and encourages cooperation. Violence and Abuse in Intimate and Family Relationships  In U.S. society, people are more likely to be physically assaulted, abused and neglected, sexually assaulted and molested, or killed in their own homes rather than anywhere else, and by other family members rather than by anyone else. o Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) - Actual or threatened violent crimes committed against individuals by their current or former spouses, cohabiting partners, boyfriends, or girlfriends 4  Johnson and Ferraro (2003) identified the following four patterns of partner violence: 1. Common couple violence 2. Intimate terrorism 3. Violent resistance 4. Mutual violent control  Includes sexual aggression: sexual interaction that occurs against one’s will through use of physical force, threat of force, pressure, use of alcohol or drugs, or use of position of authority. o Cycle of Abuse - A pattern of abuse in which a violent or abusive episode is followed by a makeup period when the abuser expresses sorrow and asks for forgiveness and “one more chance,” before another instance of abuse occurs  Adult victims of abuse are commonly blamed for tolerating abusive relationships and for not leaving the relationship as soon as the abuse begins.  Many reasons to stay:  economic dependency  emotional attachment  commitment to the relationship  hope that things will get better  the view that violence is legitimate because they “deserve” it  guilt  fear  Three Types of male Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence: 1. The psychopathic abuser 2. The hostile/controlling abuser 3. The borderline/dependent abuser Child Abuse o Child Abuse - The physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, or maltreatment of a child younger than age 18 by a person who is responsible for the child’s welfare. o Neglect - A form of abuse involving the failure to provide adequate attention, supervision, nutrition, hygiene, health care, and a safe and clean living environment for a minor child or a dependent elderly individual  Physical injuries sustained by child abuse cause pain, disfigurement, scarring, physical disability, and death. o Shaken baby syndrome - a caregiver shakes a baby to the point of causing the child to experience brain or retinal hemorrhage, most often occurs in response to a baby, typically younger than 6 months, who will not stop crying.  Adults who were abused as children have an increased risk of a number of problems, including depression, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behavior, and suicide.  Sexual abuse of young girls is associated with decreased self-esteem, increased levels of depression, running away from home, and alcohol and drug use.  Review of the research suggests that sexual abuse of boys produces many of the same reactions that sexually abused girls experience, including depression, sexual dysfunction, anger, self-blame, suicidal feelings, guilt, and flashbacks. 5 Elder Abuse  Physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse (such as improper use of the elder person’s financial resources), and neglect.  Two out of every three cases of elder abuse reported to state adult protective services involve women.  The most likely perpetrators are adult children o Parent Abuse - Some parents are victimized by their children’s violence.  More violence is directed against mothers than against fathers  Sons tend to be more violent toward parents than are daughters o Sibling Abuse - The most prevalent form of abuse in families is sibling abuse.  Risk factors - having witnessed or been a victim of abuse as a child, past violent or aggressive behavior, lack of employment and other stressful life events or circumstances, and drug and alcohol use.  Gender Inequality and Gender Socialization:  This traditional view of women as property may contribute to men’s doing with their “property” as they wish.  In a study of men in battering intervention programs, about half of the men viewed battering as acceptable in certain situations  The view of women and children as property also explains marital rape and father-daughter incest.  Traditional male gender roles have taught men to be aggressive and to be dominant in male–female relationships. Acceptance of Corporal Punishment o Corporal punishment - the intentional infliction of pain intended to change or control behavior—is widely accepted as a parenting practice. Prevention Strategies  Abuse-prevention strategies include public education and media campaigns, which may help to reduce domestic violence.  Other abuse-prevention efforts focus on parent education to teach parents realistic expectations about child behavior and methods of child discipline that do not involve corporal punishment.  Another abuse-prevention strategy involves reducing violence-provoking stress. Understanding Family Problems  The impact of family problems, including divorce and abuse, is felt by society at large.  For some, the solution to family problems implies encouraging marriage and discouraging other family forms, such as single parenting, cohabitation, and same-sex unions. 6  Many family scholars argue that the fundamental issue is making sure that children are well cared for, regardless of their parents’ marital status or sexual orientation. 7


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