An Introduction to Sociology

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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY
INSTRUCTOR: DAVID L. EIKERENKEOTTER
CHAPTER 15: FAMILIES AND INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS
BY
EARL LEE BRUNSON

FAMILIES AND INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS
Chapter 15 opens with the discussion in the form of a question. Is the American family in a state of crisis? Or are family arrangements simply changing to keep pace with rapid economic, technological, and social changes in the United States? Two Sociologists, David Popenoe and Judith Stacey offer different perspectives on the future of the family. One sociologist argues that the family has changed for the worse since 1960. Since then, divorce, nonmarital births, and the cohabitation rates have increased, while marriage and marital fertility rates have decreased. These trends, taken together are at the root of countless social ills, including child poverty, adolescent pregnancy, substance abuse, and juvenile crime. The increase in divorce rates and nonmarital births has created millions of female headed-households and has consequently removed men from the child-rearing process. Popenoe argues that this is harmful for children.

According to Stacey, the “bread-winner-father and child- rearing mother” family, is defined as the “modern family,” perpetuated the “segregation of the sexes by extracting men from, and consigning white married women to, an increasingly privatized domestic domain.” The modern family has been replaced by many new family forms. These new forms, which Stacey has named the “postmodern family,” include single mothers, blended families, cohabiting couples, lesbian and gay partners, communes, and two-worker families. This family (postmodern) is not inferior to the traditional two-parent family. It is well suited to meet the challenges of the current economy and is an appropriate setting for raising children: Children need capable, loving caretakers-regardless of their gender, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Sociologists agree that in the family, children need...
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