Debunking a Myth: a Structural Analysis of Gerstel and Sarkisian’s “the Color of Family Ties: Race, Class, Gender, and Extended Family Involvement”

Topics: Family, Extended family, Nuclear family Pages: 3 (985 words) Published: July 12, 2012
In Naomi Gerstel and Natalia Sarkisian’s published study “The Color of Family Ties: Race, Class, Gender, and Extended Family Involvement,” which appeared in Stephanie Coontz’s American Families: A Multicultural Reader, Gerstel and Sarkisian present their professional opinions of the popular belief in America that White families have stronger kinship ties than those of minority families, namely Black and Latino/a. Gerstel and Sarkisian are professors of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and at Boston College, respectively; they are also highly acclaimed researchers, publishers, and experts surrounding the sociologic aspects of families, gender, and employment. In “The Color of Family Ties,” the authors Gerstel and Sarkisian argue that a family’s social economic class holds a greater influence on the closeness of its relationships than its ethnicity. The authors accomplish this using an approach that can be paralleled to Galileo’s letter to the Grand Duchess Christina refuting the 16th century false common claim of geocentricism: a brief description of the “false” theory being confronted followed with the suggestion of a novel concept or understanding which contradicts the previously misled concept, backed by supporting evidential research with relevant explanations that untangle the numbers and connect them to the original rebuttal, concluded with a more personal passage that defines and muses about the various real-world applications and significance of the new findings.

Gerstel and Sarkisian begin their argument by examining the idea and definition of “family” itself and explain that a different family structure does not necessarily mean a weaker family structure. Here, the authors examine the general differences in family experiences between the majority race/ethnic group and minority races/ethnic groups. They believe that when social commentators and politicians deliberate about topics such as this regarding family responsibilities and...
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