Family Relations Research
The Sociology of Families and Households is a film that will be examined in this paper. The film is full of controversial topics as well as complex socioeconomic issues that will be discussed in detail. A textbook, Public and Private Families, written by Andrew Cherlina share a lot of concepts of the film will be brought in to the discussion as well.
The various relationships that exist between Marxist theory, sociological perspectives, structural functionalism, as well as the family and early feminist theory are examined throughout the program. It examines the rapid decline in marriage over the last few decades as well as the great increase in couples choosing cohabitation. Divorce is increasing and the fertility rate is on the decline in the U.K. All of these factors have combined to affect the traditional family in Britain and has created new challenges for them in how everyday relationships are handled (The Sociology of Family and Households). The conclusion of the film discusses the relationships between the change in family and change in society. The series called Understanding Sociology provides additional materials and resources online.
Course Concepts and Film Idea Similarity
The book, Public and Private Families, have 5 specific points discussed in the documentary:
As part of the first chapter of the book, feminist theories are examined. The differences between the gender as they are seen in various cultures, and the social structure of gender roles are both mentioned in this chapter. The text derives that the social rules in a society are created based on where the power and economic advantage lies. Examples of social rules like this include women not being allowed to work or at least that their career opportunities are limited (Cherlin, 2013-page 26). A very important concept from this video is the examination of feminist theory that reflects on females in the nucleus family today. Both the video and book bring up similar points such as the ones previously mentioned.
1) Marriage is brought up in an interesting way throughout the book. Throughout history, marriage has had a large influence over people's personal lives, controlling and mandating what was allowed and not allowed. However, the author brings up an important point that marriage's power is much weaker today (Cherlin, 2013-page 6). Women are significantly less dependent on their husbands for economic stability since they are able to move into the workforce. The film addresses this point by conveying the message that marriage is on the decline and women are able to support themselves without a husband. This is also the cause for the rapid increase in divorce rates according to this media source.
2) The examination of the diversity of modern families is postmodern theory at work. The author discusses how the diversity of families causes unpredictable change and development. Other times the change can be useful to explain life events that otherwise would be difficult to understand. A great example would be the marriage and re-marriage by partners and later their explanation of this to their children (Cherlin, 2013-page 26). Likewise, these issues are also discussed in the documentary.
3) The video also takes a long look at individualism which is a very interesting concept. The claim was that the increase of individualism has increased the number of relationships people have. This is known as Expressive individualism, or at least that is what the book calls it. It is a new idea that places emphasis on fulfilling feelings and achieving satisfaction emotionally (Cherlin, 2013-page 7). Essentially this idea creates a mindset of romance through connection and communication. This of course then causes an increase in relationship expectations.
4) Finally, the modern family is an important concept to discuss. The division of household roles and the moving away from the nuclear family is what the modern family is. A wonderful example is how Cherlin discusses the women's historical role that was both limited and restricted (Cherlin, 2013-page 52). In today's world women have as many opportunities...
This has led to confusion in the home and a lower emphasis placed on family bonds. Households can be more than just blood family in today's world.
Social and Economic Issues That Are Relevant
The family is viewed as an institution and as socialization unit from the sociology standpoint. The relationship between the family and industrial capitalism, and the various parental styles and concepts of childhood are all ways that help identify the family as a socialization unit (The Sociology of the Familiy). Both the book and film discussed these vital points:
- The individual family members' education level, social class, and economic standing.
- The various demographics such as family size, ethnicity, genders, and age
- Social change and how it changes family dynamics.
- Family relationships and interactions.
- The importance of different life spheres to the family (The Sociology of the Family, 2013)
- Gender, ideology, religious, and political diversity within the family unit
- Internal familial relationships and how they members support and rely on each other.
These are the numbers that have to be considered as well over the last few years (The Sociology of the Family, 2013):
- 27% of parents with children under 18 are single.
- Every other child will at some point live in a single parent household.
- There was a drastic jump in the number of single mothers during the years 1970 to 2000, the number increased from 3 million to 10 million.
- The statistics for marriage that end in divorce are: 74% of third marriages, 67% of second marriages, and 50% of first marriages.
- Over 2.4 million grandparents act as the primary caregiver according to the 2000 census.
- The annual adoption rate for children exceeds 100,000
- Over 4.5 million couples, unmarried and married, live in mixed race relationships.
- The statistics for gay couples with children have increased from 12% to 195 between 1990 and 2006. There are also about 2 million children under 18 being raised by homosexual parents today.
- The numbers have been released from 10 states in which the homosexual households saw a drastic increase over the last decade: 700% or more in Delaware and Nevada; 400% or more in Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Vermont; and 200% or more in Illinois, Montana, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
- The ratio of homosexuals with children has been as following: 1/3 for lesbians and 1/5 for gay males.
Our government's federal budget consists of over 45% entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid. Various demographics are the driving forces for these programs. The success of these programs depends greatly on the number of children we have and the lifespan of the average American. Medicare and Social Security are welfare programs that were established in order to give the senior citizens the care that they need. The financing for these programs go through the normal workers income tax and as such, there is a direct relationship between the numbers of workers compared to the number of people on the healthcare programs (Parker, 2013). Over time, as our quality of life improves and our lifespan is increased, this relationship between the worker and welfare recipient has changed dramatically for the worse. At the onset of this program back in the 1940's there were as many as 42 working Americans per welfare recipient, but today there are only three. Additionally, it is projected that in as few as 25 years, over 20% of the American population will be 65 years of age or older. (Parker, 2013).
One of the louder and more common controversies that is still on going today is the fight over gay marriage. Denmark was the first nation in the world to legalize the marriage of homosexuals, thus granting them equal rights with all other citizens. Since then a number of countries and even some U.S. states have followed suits. As of today though, there are still 30 states that haven't amended their constitutions or legalized gay marriage (Sociology of the Family, 2013). This issue is for many a central argument in relation to the sociology of the family. Another controversy, mostly among the religious, is the cohabitation of couples. Co-habitiation is the word attributed to unmarried couples that live together. This type of family structure is growing ever more common in America and is extremely prevalent in other countries like Sweden or Norway. Catholic communities shun this behavior and in heavily religious places like Italy, it is almost never seen. In general though, cohabitation is increasing and the importance of marriage in the family is being downplayed (Sociology of the Family, 2013).
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Documentary
The film did well in presenting the wide array of evidence based theories that discuss the family unit such as feminism. Also, it performed well in presenting the transition from a core family unit to the present day's modern version in which the dynamics of family relationships are…
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