Lesson 1 Assignment
Explore a sociology association found on the link provided. Write a 1-2-page written paper on the association you explored, how it relates to marriage and family, your interest level in the group and your thoughts regarding joining the organization.
LESSON 1- Readings and Videos
CrashCourse. (2017, December 11). Theories About Family & Marriage: Crash Course Sociology #37 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaeiCEro0iU&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMJ-AfB_7J1538YKWkZAnGA
SOCIOLOGY of the Family Ron Hammond, Paul Cheney, Raewyn Pearsey
Chapter 01 – Changes and De�nitions Welcome to this Sociology of the Family Free Online textbook. I am the author and have worked with my own university students
over these recent years to provide open courseware free textbooks for anyone, anywhere who would like to read them. As of the
writing of this edition, over 500,000 students have used our free books and many of them live in many diverse countries around the
I have a Ph.D. in Sociology of Family Studies from Brigham Young University (Class of 1991) and have taught Sociology of the Family
for over 30 years. I have taught thousands of students how to understand the family using sociology as a framework for gaining
insight and expertise. Most of my students did not continue on in the �eld of family studies, but a few are now professors in their
own right and others are therapists practicing in their communities. My �rst full-time gig as a professor of sociology was in a
community college where administrators demanded that we provide a service to our students that was worth the money they paid
us for teaching. I have honored that professional commitment ever since. So we hope you will enjoy the chapter.
My purpose in teaching about the family is to provide you with information that is scienti�cally sound and practically useful. It is not
enough for me to simply spread facts. I want to tell students what works, what doesn't work, and how to tell the difference in �nding
real solutions to their own life troubles. Call it bias or just common sense, if you read this book you'll �nd more answers than
In all societies, the family is the premier institution for all of the following: socialization of children, adult intimate relationships,
lifelong economic support and cooperation, and continuity of relationships along the life course. Sociologists are leaders among
scientists who study the family. They function in a core assessment role for describing, explaining, and predicting family-based social
patterns for the United States and other countries of the world. Sociologists allow us to understand the larger social and personal-
level trends in families.
Family Structures The family structures that were very common a century ago are not nearly as common today. In the U.S. around the year 1900 most
families had three generations living in one home (i.e., children, parents, and grandparents). In 2012, only 4.6 percent of all US
households had multi-generational family members living in them (retrieved 6 June 2014 from SOURCE America’s Families and
Living Arrangements: 2012, P20-570). Most modern families take one of two forms: nuclear or blended. The Nuclear Family is a
family group consisting of a mother and a father and their children. This is the family type that is mostly preferred. One variation of
this type is the single-parent family, which can be created by unwed motherhood, divorce, or death of a spouse. The second most
common type of family is the Blended Family, which is a family group created by remarriage that includes step-parents or step-
siblings or both. All of the family relationships beyond the basic two-generation nuclear or blended family we call Extended Family,
which includes relatives beyond nuclear and blended family levels (i.e., cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and great
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts annual surveys of the U.S. population and publishes them as the Current Population Surveys.
Table 1 represents the numbers and percentages of 2019 and 2011 U.S. Family Types. You will notice that marrieds comprised the
largest proportion of family types in 2019 and in 2011. Marriage is still the marital status preferred the most and it might include
�rst marriages, second or later marriages (remarriages, heterosexual or same-sex marriages inter-racial or inter-ethnic marriages,
traditional or conservative marriages. Both the number and the percentage of marriages increased from 2011 to 2019. The
widowed were fairly constant with few changes. The divorced and separated increased in numbers but not in percentages. The
never married singles also increased in numbers and percentages from 2011 to 2019.
Table 1. US Family Types, 2019 and (2011)
Types 2019 & (2011) Numbers in Millions 2019 & (2011) Percentages
Married 137 & (123.9) 53% & (52%)
Widowed 14.2 & (14.2) 6% & (6%)
Divorced & Seperated 40.3 & (30.0) 11% & (12.6%)
Never Married-Single 85.2 & (75.8) 32 % & (30%)
Retrieved 1 July 2020 from MS-1. Marital Status of the Population 15 Years Old and Over by Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin: 1950 to Present SOURCE and
from Taken from Internet on 30 May 2014 from Table A1. Marital Status of People 15 Years and Over, by Age, Sex, Personal Earnings, Race, and Hispanic
There has been a marked increase of non-married cohabiting couples over the last few decades.which PewResearch reported is
continuing on the rise as of 2019. Pew Research reported in as of 2017, 50 percent of adults had ever married and 59 percent had
ever cohabited. This is changed from their 2002 �ndings that about 60 percent had ever married and only 54 percent had ever
cohabited. PewResearch also reported that from 1995 to 2019 the share of adults who are living with an unmarried partner has
risen from 3% to 7%.” The report also noted that 78 percent of young adults gave an indication of approval for a couple cohabiting
(compared to only 36% of 65 and older adults giving approval to cohabitation). (Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S., 6 Nov. 2019
retrieved 1 July 2020 from SOURCE ) Interestingly, the same report evaluated results from PewResearch surveys and found out
that the majority of U.S. adults who cohabit and those who are married expressed a great deal of trust in their partner or spouse. But
the married adults expressed more trust than the cohabiting ones in their spouse/partner’s: being faithful to them (84% Mar. & only
71% Cohab); acting in their best interest (74% Mar. & only 58% Cohab.); always telling the truth (68% Mar. & only 52% Cohab.); and
handling money responsibly (56% Mar. & only 40% Cohab.).
When asked why they cohabited, they replied: “love” (90% Mar. & only 73% Cohab.); “companionship” (86% Mar. & only 61%
Cohab.); “wanted to make a formal commitment” (63% Mar. & only 63% Cohab.); “it made sense �nancially” (38% Mar. & only 13%
Cohab.); “they wanted to have children someday” (31% Mar. & only 14% Cohab.); “it was convenient” (37% Mar. & only 10% Cohab.);
and “wanted to test the relationship” (23% Mar. & only 23% Cohab.). Figure 1 shows the PewResearch reports diagram of U.S.
cohabitation rates between 1995 and 2018. These have �attened in recent years (there is not a real increase or decrease for most
Figure 1. PewResearch Diagram of U.S. Cohabitation Rates* 1995-2018
Men’s Marital Status: 1950-2013
*Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S., 6 Nov. 2019 Cohabitation rates have plateaued over past decade: Percent of adults who are cohabiting, by age group
retrieved 1 July 2020 from SOURCE
In 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were also 7,845,000 million heterosexual cohabiters and about 687,000 same-
sex cohabiters (retrieved 6 June 2014 from America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012, P20-570, Tables 3 & 7). But, in 2017,
Gallup reported that Same-sex cohabitation had declined from 12.8 percent before the Supreme Court Ruled in favor of Same-sex
marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges, 26 June 2015) down to only 6.6 percent by 2017. Why the change? The same Gallup report found
an that there were about 10.2 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) adults who were legally married to a same
sex spouse. The report stated that: “Two years after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states could not prohibit
same-sex marriages, 10.2% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) adults in the U.S. are married to a same-sex spouse. That
is up from 7.9% in the months prior to the Supreme Court decision in 2015, but only marginally higher than the 9.6% measured in
the �rst year after the ruling.” (see Jones, J. M., (22 June 2017) “In U.S., 10.2% of LGBT Adults Now Married to Same-Sex Spouse
Marital status composition is changing for the entire society as well. What do U.S. Census data show the changes in proportions of
marital status for men and for women to be between 1950 and 2019? Look at Figure 2 below to see the U.S. trend of percentages of
U.S. Men’s marital status types between the years 1950-2019. It shows that the most common marital status is still married (down
from a high of about 70% in 1960 to about 53% in 2019). The rising trend is clearly among the never married singles which rose
from about 26 percent in 1950 to about 36% in 2019). More and more the Generation Y and Z are delaying marriage in the U.S.
Figure 2. Men’s Percentage Marital Status Proportions 1950-2019
*U.S. Census Historical Marital Status Tables and Visualizations (Nov. 2019) Retrieved 15 July 2020 from SOURCE
Look at Figure 3 below to see the U.S. trend of percentages of Women’s marital status types between the years 1950-2019. It shows
that the most common marital status is still married (down from a high of about 68% in 1960 to about 51% in 2019). The rising trend
is clearly among the never married singles which rose from about 20 percent in 1950 to about 30% in 2019). Again, more and more
women among the Generation Y and Z are delaying marriage in the U.S.
Figure 3. Women’s Percentage Marital Status Proportions 1950-2019
*U.S. Census Historical Marital Status Tables and Visualizations (Nov. 2019) Retrieved 15 July 2020 from SOURCE
Family Functions What are the functions of families? In studying the family, Functional Theorists (see chapter 3) have identi�ed some common and
nearly universal family functions, meaning that almost all families in all countries around the world have at least some of these
functions in common. Table 2 shows many of the global functions of the family.
Table 2. Global Functions of the Family
1. Economic support—food, clothing, shelter, etc.
2. Emotional support—intimacy, companionship, belonging, etc.
3. Socialization of children—raising children, parenting
4. Control of sexuality—de�nes and controls when and with whom (e.g., marriage)
5. Control of reproduction—de�nes the types of relationships where children should/could be born
6. Ascribed status—contexts of race, SES, religion, kinship, etc.
By far, economic support is the most common function of today's
families. When your parents let you raid their pantry, wash your clothes for you, or replenish your checking account, that's economic
support. For another young adult, say in New Guinea, if she captures a wild animal and cooks it on an open �re, that's also economic
support in a different cultural context. I've always been amazed at how far family economic cooperation extends. Some families
cooperate in businesslike relationships. In Montreal, Quebec, Canada, there is an established pattern of Italian immigrants helping
family and friends emigrate from Italy to Canada. They subsidize each other's travel costs, help each other �nd employment once in
Canada, and even privately fund some mortgages for one another. Each immigrant supported through this system is expected to
later support others in the same manner. To partake in this form of economic cooperation is to assume a very businesslike
Emotional relationships are also very common, but you must understand there is a tremendous amount of cultural diversity in how
intimacy is experienced in various families around the world. Intimacy is the social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical
trust that is mutually shared between family members. Family members share con�dences, advice, trust, secrets, and ongoing
mutual concern. Many family scientists believe that intimacy in family relationships functions as a strong buffer to the ongoing
stresses family members experience outside of the home.
Socialization of Children
Socialization of children is covered in more detail in chapter 4. For now, keep in mind that children are born with the potential to be
raised as humans. They will realize this potential if older family members or friends take the time to protect and nurture them into
their cultural and societal roles. Today the family is the core of primary socialization. But many other societal institutions contribute
to the process, including schools, religious establishments, workplaces, and media.
Control of Sexuality and Reproduction
The family has traditionally asserted control over sexuality and reproduction. A few centuries ago many fathers and mothers even
selected the spouses for their children (they still do in many countries). Today, U.S. parents want their adult children to select their
own spouses. Older family members tend to discourage unwed mothers and encourage pregnancy and childbirth only in marriage or
a long-term relationship. Unwed Mothers are mothers who are not legally married at the time of the child's birth. Being unwed
brings up concerns about economic, emotional, social, and other forms of support for the mother that may or may not be available
from the father. Many unwed fathers reject their fatherly obligations while hundreds of thousands of others center their entire lives
on their parenting responsibilities. Marriage no longer controls sexuality either at a cultural, criminal, or tax code level of sanctions
being enforced (as it was in decades past).
Figure 4 shows the birth rates in the U.S. for women, broken down by age categories. The 2 catgories which include 20-24 and 25-29
year old women have been declining steadily between 1990 and 2018. This is particularly impactful in the U.S. because historically
about two-thirds of all U.S. births used to happen among the 20-29 year old women. The rates for 30-34, 35-39, and 40-44 year old
women have slightly increased. The rates for the 15019 year olds have dramatically declined as have the rates of teen births in the
same time period. Overall, the birth rate has dramatically declined since 2007. The births to unmarried women accounted for only
39.6 percent in 2018 but represents the lowest unmarried birth rate since 2009. This decline is present foir unmarried 15-19 year
olds in the same years.
Figure 4 United States Birth Rates by Age Categories 1990-2018
*Births: Final Data 2018 Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK. Births: Final Data for 2018. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 68, no 13.
Figure 3. Birth rates, by age of mother: United States, 1990–2018 Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Stats. 2019 retrieved 15 July 2020 from
In Chapter Twelve we discussed how grandparents are often raising their grandchildren during their later life years. Some times
both parents are in the home, sometimes, only the mother and other times only the father. Sometimes neither parent is in the home.
Sometimes the children have grandparents raising them for only a short period of time and many times they have grandparents as
their “parents” for life. The latter is the case for Olympic Gold Medalist, Simone Biles (see Wikipedia page at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_Biles ). In many way Simone and her siblings who were all adopted out of the Ohio foster care
system by relatives, had advantages in their childhood. The advantage her maternal grandparents gave her speci�cally included
stability in residence, continuity of being raised by the same two people who served as her parents (Grandpa Ron and Grandma
Nellie Biles), adequate food, a home schooling education and consistent opportunity to be trained and to develop her gymnastic
abilities (just to name a few).
As previously mentioned, in the U.S. in 2014 there were approximately 73,692,000 children. Many were being raised in their
grandparent’s home, some with a father, mother, both, or neither. Figure 5 shows the trend of which type of living arrangements U.S.
children who live in the home of their grandparents experience between 1990 and 2014. This �gure has percentage values on both
sides of the vertical axis. On the left, you see the percentage of all children growing up in their grandparent’s home which is about 5
percent in 1990. Look at the rising and falling trend lines 1990 to 2014. That symbolically represents the consequences all these
dramatic shifts in marital statuses and household compositions have; not on the adults involved but on the children involved.
indicate steady larger social trends of grandparents providing kinship care.
Figure 5. Presence of parents for children living in the home of a grandparent*
*From U.S. Census Bureau “Figure 7:Presence of parents for children living in the home of a Grandparent” retrieved 14 July 2020 from SOURCE
Childhood instability=is the frequent change in household and marital/relationship status of parents over the course of the �rst 18
years of a child’s life. It can include any or all of the following: a child born to single, cohabiting, or married parent/s; a child who
experiences parents’ divorce, separation, breakup of relationship, or remarriage or repairing of cohabiting parent/s; a child who
loses parent/s to incarceration, drug addiction, or death; and a child who enters the state’s foster care system (just to name some of
the more common scenarios). To help illustrate the nature of how all the larger social trends that have directly changed the U.S.
family structures since 1960, I am using the 2010 book of one of my favorite contemporary Sociologists, Andrew J. Cherlin (see
professional page at https://soc.jhu.edu/directory/andrew-j-cherlin/ ). Cherlin is a Sociological researcher that represents some of
the best research Sociologists can conduct in modern societies. His 2010 book “The Marriage Go Round: The State of Marriage and
the Family in America Today” (available in print or e-book form, Vintage Pub. 1st Ed ISBN 978-0307386380).
Cherlin’s book provides extensive insight and research to quantify the changes in the larger social and cultural levels of families in
the United States over the last century leading up to the publishing of his 2010 book. One of the major claims he makes is that a shift
in U.S. individualism has included only the individual now. Whereas in past decades “rugged individualism” with a heavy focus on
collectivism (other focused) was courageous and allowed families to build in less inhabited parts of the country, but also focus
speci�cally more on “individualism” as it included: me and my family.” A more detailed discussion of ‘individualism’ and “collectivism”
in a variety of countries can be found at the Clearly Cultural Website (see Clearly Cultural Making Sense of Cross Cultural
Communication retrieved 18 Jan 2019 http://clearlycultural.com/geert-hofstede-cultural-dimensions/individualism/ ). By 2010 a
huge shift in individualism had gradually shifted away from “me and my family” toward simply “self-ful�llment of me” as each
individual takes care of their own individual life goals and pursuits and adventures.
He shows (with exceptional research data to back up his assertions) how highly we in the U.S. truly value marriage, but also clearly
shows how the individual “me-only” value that permeates Baby Boomer, Gens: X, Y, and now Z, collides with that high value of
marriage in such a way that it leads to many of the trends we have already established in this textbook and that exists outside the
scope of this textbook in international and historical data analysis. Table 3 shows a selection of some of the U.S. trends Cherlin
articulates in comparison to similar European nations:
Table 3. Cherlin’s Reported Larger Social Trends Relating to Families in the United States
In comparison to other nations, the U.S. has an exceptionally high positive regard for marriage.
The U.S. is the only nation that experience a national legal battle of allowing same-sex couples to marry.
In the U.S., we marry more, divorce more, and remarry more than takes place in other countries (Thus Cherlin’s “Marriage Go Round” book
In the U.S. we have more children born to unmarried mothers
As of 2010 the U.S. was the only nation spending federal money to promote marriage
In the U.S. children experience shorter marriage duration periods (about twice as many U.S. children see their parents’ divorce in �rst 5 years
(23%) compared to much lower percentages other countries; see page 206 tables).
-In the U.S. children experience fewer long-term cohabiting duration periods (55% of U.S. parents break up within 5 years soon highest
among other countries; see page 206 tables). -In the U.S. children born to single mothers have the highest average number of “father-like”
adult men who move in and partner with their mother then leave soon (U.S. was an average of 3+ “father-like” partners of their mother
compared to far fewer in other countries; see page 209).
Cherlin also showed how U.S. remarriages end in divorce more often than �rst marriages do. The U.S. Census Bureau often
publishes trends based on their many ongoing annual surveys and on decennial census data. Figure 6 shows the living arrangements
of U.S. children between 1960 and 2019. The percentage of children living with two parents (Married and Cohabiting combined)
declined from about 88 percent in 1960 down to around 70 percent in 2019. In 1960 most children who did live with married
parents lived with their biological or adoptive parents with only a few who had been through their parents’ divorce, remarriage, and
because of WWII remarriage after widowhood. In 2019, Many of the children in “two parent homes” have instable childhoods
before the remarriage ever occurs (because of the larger social and personal trend of the “Marriage Go Round”).
Figure 6. Living Arrangements* of U.S. Children between 1960 and 2019.*
*See U.S. Census (October 10, 2019) Figure CH-1 “Living Arrangements of children 1960 to present retrieved 16 July 2020 from SOURCE
Finally, Figure 8 adds one more crucial dimension to the instability of U.S. children which is living in poverty which shows the 29.5
million living in unmarried homes (40%) and the 44.2 million who lived in married homes (60%) in 2018 and the percentage of each
subcategories that lived in poverty. The subcategories are listed in descending order with the highest percent in poverty nearest the
top of each list. In the right hand column of children living with married parents, we see the overall trend of children living in married
homes with their original biological or adoptive parents (who were still in their �rst marriage) had the overall lowest percent living
in poverty (8.2%) followed closely by children in homes with remarried parents (11.3%).
The subcategories in the left hand column were for children living in unmarried homes. A quick overview shows a clear gender trend
with the lowest unmarried home-poverty rates to be found in homes with single fathers (16.0%) and cohabiting fathers (18.6%). The
levels of poverty increase as you keep reading toward the top of the list with levels of poverty in the following types of homes being:
Grandparent (24.2%); Bio-parent and Cohabitating step-parent (28.3%); single mother (37.3%); other than grandparent relatives
(39.3%); cohabiting biological parents (41.6%); cohabiting mother (42.2%); “Other circumstances (60.5%); with non-relatives
(96.6%); and with those children in formal foster care (100%). Foster Care Programs consider children to be “wards of state” and
provide complete welfare support for the foster care givers, even if the caregivers are not themselves living in poverty. An entire
book could be written on why these levels of poverty are so much higher for unmarried parent homes. But, for this online textbook
we will point to the larger social trends of recording higher: cohabiting, divorce, single mothering, divorcing, drug and substance
addiction, crime participation and incarceration levels among the less educated poor than among the more educated middle and
upper class. Thus, the instability of children that continues as results of the unique “marriage Go Round” actions of parents in the
U.S. is compounded by the experience of poverty.
Figure 7. U.S. Children (N=73,740,000): 2018* with Unmarried Homes (40%) & Married Homes (60%) with (% Living in poverty).*
*Retrieved 16 July 2020 from American Community Survey table FAM1.B FAMILY STRUCTURE AND CHILDREN’S LIVING ARRANGEMENTS: DETAILED
LIVING ARRANGEMENTS OF CHILDREN BY GENDER, RACE AND HISPANIC ORIGIN, AGE, PARENT’S EDUCATION, AND POVERTY STATUS, 2018
**Provisional number of divorces and anulments and rate 2000-2018 retrieved 16 July 2020 from SOURCE
Children are born into a family structure and at the time of their birth attain an Ascribed Status. As discussed in the Strati�cation
Chapter (CH9) in the United States it is possible to change many of your birth-related ascribed statuses. But, what is a “Status?” Well
with your friends, have you noticed that one or two tend to be informally in charge of the details? You might be the one who calls
everyone and makes reservations or buys the tickets for the others. If so, you would have the informal role of "organizer." Status is a
socially defined position, or what you do in a role. There are three types of status considerations: Ascribed Status is present at birth (race, sex, or class), Achieved Status is attained through one's choices and efforts (college student, movie star, teacher, or athlete),
and Master Status stands out above our other statuses and distracts others from seeing who we really are
You were born into your racial, cultural-ethnic, religious and economic statuses. Those shaped to some degree the way you grew up
and were socialized. By far in our modern societies, achieved status (which comes as a result of your own efforts) is more important
than ascribed status (which you're born with) for most members of society. However, the degree of achievement you attain often
depends heavily on the level of support your family gives to you and the stability or instability in the home you grow up in that
allows you to develop and mature at multiple levels or to not develop.
Another consideration about roles is the fact that one single role can place a rather heavy burden on you (e.g., student). Role Strain
is the burden one feels within any given role. And when one role comes into direct con�ict with another or other roles, you might
experience role con�ict. Role Con�ict is the con�ict and burdens one feels when the expectations of one role compete with the
expectations of another role.
Groups The �rst and most important unit of measure in sociology is the Group, which is a set of two or more people who share common
identity, interact regularly, have shared expectations (roles), and function in their mutually agreed upon roles. Most people use the
word "group" differently from the sociological use. They say "group" even if the cluster of people they are referring to don't even
know each other (like six people standing at the same bus stop). Sociologists call such a cluster an "Aggregate," which is a number of
people in the same place at the same time. So, clusters of people in the same movie theater, people at the same bus stop, and even
people at a university football game are considered aggregates rather than groups. Sociologists also discuss categories. A Category
is a number of people who share common characteristics. Brown-eyed people, people who wear hats, and people who vote
independent are categories—they don't necessarily share the same space, nor do they have shared expectations. In this text we
mostly discuss trends and patterns in family groups and in large categories of family types.
Family groups are crucial to society and are what most of you will
form in your own adult lives. Groups come in varying sizes. For example, Dyads, which are groups of two people, and Triads, which
are groups of three people. The number of people in a group plays an important structural role in the nature of the group's
functioning. Dyads are the simplest groups because two people have only one relationship between them. Triads have three
relationships. A group of four has six relationships, �ve has 10, six has 15, seven has 21, and one of my students from Brazil has 10
brothers and sisters and she counts 91 relationships just in her immediate family (not counting the brothers- and sisters-in-law).
When triads form it looks much like a triangle, and these typically take much more …
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