Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. 2012. Nuclear Family Values, Extended Family Lives: The Importance of Gender, Race, and Class. New York: Routledge.
Book Description: Nuclear Family Values, Extended Family Lives shows how the current emphasis on the nuclear family -- with its exclusion of the extended family -- is narrow, even deleterious, and misses much of family life. This omission is tied to gender, race, and class. This book is broken down into six chapters. Chapter one discusses how, when promoting "family values" and talking about "family as the basic unit of American society," social commentators, politicians, and social scientists alike typically ignore extended kin ties and focus only on the nuclear family. Chapters two and three show that the focus on marriage and the nuclear family is a narrow view that ignores the familial practices and experiences of many Americans -- particularly those of women who do much of the work of maintaining kin ties and racial/ethnic minorities for whom extended kin are centrally important. Chapter four focuses on class and economic inequality and explores how an emphasis on the nuclear family may actually promulgate a vision of family life that dismisses the very social resources and community ties that are critical to the survival strategies of those in need. In chapter five, the authors argue that marriage actually detracts from social integration and ties to broader communities. Finally, in chapter six, the authors suggest that the focus on marriage and the nuclear family and the inattention to the extended family distort and reduce the power of social policy in the United States.
Garroutte, Eva Marie, Natalia Sarkisian, and Sergey Karamnov. 2012 (forthcoming). "Affective Interactions in Medical Visits: Ethnic Differences among American Indian Older Adults." Journal of Aging and Health.
Abstract: Objective: Investigate influence of ethnicity on older American Indian patients’ interpretations of providers’ affective behaviors. Method: Using data from 115 older American Indian patients, random effects ordered logit models related patient ratings of providers’ respect, empathy, and rapport first to separate measures of American Indian and White American ethnicity, then to "ethnic discordance," or difference between providers’ and patients’ cultural characteristics. Results: In models accounting for patients’ ethnicity only, high scores for American Indian ethnicity were linked to reduced evaluations for providers’ respect; high scores on White ethnicity were associated with elevated ratings for empathy and rapport. In models accounting for provider-patient ethnic discordance, high discordance on either ethnicity scale was associated with reduced ratings for the same behaviors. Discussion: Findings support "orthogonal ethnic identity" theory and extend "cultural health capital" theory, suggesting a pathway by which ethnicity becomes relevant to experience of health care among older adults.
Oh, Seil, and Natalia Sarkisian. 2012. "Spiritual Individualism or Engaged Spirituality? Social Implications of Holistic Spirituality among Mind-Body-Spirit Practitioners." Sociology of Religion.
Abstract: Scholars disagree whether spirituality promotes individualistic withdrawal or fosters social engagement. This study addresses the spiritual individualism versus engaged spirituality debate and investigates the social implications of "holistic" spirituality among mind-body-spirit (MBS) practitioners belonging to fitness (Yoga), therapeutic (Dahn Yoga and Healing), and cult (Art of Living) types of practice. The findings indicate that spirituality is positively associated with altruistic behaviors, participation in nonreligious voluntary associations, and individual political action. Collective forms of political engagement, however, are most prevalent at moderate levels of spirituality. These relationships depend on the type of MBS practice: spirituality is related to social involvement among those practicing Yoga and Art of Living but not among Dahn Yoga practitioners. Thus, spirituality of MBS practitioners does not entrap them in spiritual individualism, although its ability to foster social engagement is limited insofar as collective action is concerned and does not extend to the therapeutic type of MBS.
Collins, Amy L., Natalia Sarkisian, and Ellen Winner. 2009. “Flow and Happiness in Later Life: An Investigation into the Role of Daily and Weekly Flow Experiences.” Journal of Happiness Studies.
Abstract: Fifty-four older adults ranging in age from 70 to 86 years old (M = 77.54) reported daily levels of positive and negative affect, life satisfaction and daily activities for seven consecutive days. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to investigate inter- and intra-individual effects of flow experiences on affect. Higher quality of flow was positively associated with high arousal positive affect (i.e., feeling peppy, enthusiastic, happy), negatively associated with low arousal negative affect (i.e., feeling sad and disappointed), and positively associated with life satisfaction. However, more frequent flow experiences throughout the week predicted lower average levels of positive affect and life satisfaction. Overall, the results demonstrate that flow is linked to the affective experiences of older adults, and that an individual’s overall propensity to experience flow may be influential beyond the immediate effects of a given flow experience.
Garroutte, Eva, Natalia Sarkisian, Dedra Buchwald, Jack Goldberg, and Jan Beals. 2008. “Perceptions of Medical Interaction between Providers and American Indian Older Adults.” Social Science and Medicine, 67, 4 (August), 546-556.
Abstract: Cultural competence models assume that culture affects medical encounters, yet little research uses objective measures to examine how this may be true. Do providers and racial/ethnic minority patients interpret the same interactions similarly or differently? How might patterns of provider–patient concordance and discordance vary for patients with different cultural characteristics? We collected survey data from 115 medical visits with American Indian older adults at a clinic operated by the Cherokee Nation (in Northeastern Oklahoma, USA), asking providers and patients to evaluate nine affective and instrumental interactions. Examining data from the full sample, we found that provider and patient ratings were significantly discordant for all interactions (Wilcoxon signed-rank test p < 0.02). However, discordance typically reflected a trend in which providers were more critical of their own behaviors than were patients. These findings suggest that providers serving American Indian patients often create greater satisfaction than they believe. We then distinguished cultural subgroups of patients, comparing magnitude of provider–patient discordance on specific interactions for patients at different levels of American Indian and White American cultural identity. Patients who affiliated strongly with American Indian cultural identity more closely shared providers’ reduced evaluation for several variables related to information exchange, as compared to patients who identified weakly. These results flag interactions that providers and their most culturally distinctive patients both experience as challenging.
Shen, Ce, Natalia Sarkisian, and Thanh Tran. 2008. “Child Mortality, Economic Development, and Social Inequality in Less Developed Countries: A Cross-National Analysis.” China Journal of Social Work, 1, 2 (July), 172-188.
Abstract: Many cross-national studies of child and infant mortality emphasize predictors linked to modernization theory, such as economic development level as measured by GNI (gross national income) or GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. However, much less research considers the effects of social inequality on child mortality. This paper relies on four theoretical frameworks. In addition to modernization theory, it assesses the social democratic theory, the class stratification theory, and the gender stratification theory by examining the effects of state commitment to health care, class inequality, and gender inequality on child mortality. The findings demonstrate some support for each of the theories. Along with economic development, state commitment to health care, class inequality, and gender inequality demonstrate significant direct effects on child mortality in LDCs (less developed countries). In addition, economic development has a significant indirect effect on child mortality via state commitment to health care and gender inequality, but not via class inequality.
Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. 2008. “Till Marriage Do Us Part: Adult Children’s Relationships with Parents.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 2 (May), 360-376.
Abstract: Although some emphasize the integrative character of marriage, others argue that marriage undermines relations with extended kin, including aging parents. Utilizing NSFH data (N = 6108), we find that married women and men have less intense intergenerational ties than the never married and the divorced: The married are less likely to live with parents, stay in touch, and give or receive emotional, financial, and practical help. These differences hold even when we control for structural characteristics, including time demands, needs and resources ,and demographic and extended family characteristics. We conclude that marriage is a greedy institution for both women and men. Given the inadequacy of structural explanations, we suggest that cultural explanations for this greediness should be explored.
Sarkisian, Natalia. 2007. “Street Men, Family Men: Race and Men’s Extended Family Involvement.” Social Forces, 86, 2 (December), 763-794.
Abstract: Disorganization theories postulate that Black men have largely abandoned their familial roles. Using the NSFH data, this paper refutes the hypothesis of Black men’s familial disengagement by focusing on extended family integration. Black men are more likely than White men to live with or near extended kin, as well as to frequently see kin in person. Men are similar across race in terms of emotional and practical help, although Black men are less likely than White men to provide financial assistance. The racial differences can be mostly attributed to the socioeconomic disadvantage of Black men. The similarities emerge because Blacks’ economic disadvantage hinders their involvement, but cultural values and extended family structure bring their involvement to the levels of the more economically advantaged Whites.
Sarkisian, Natalia, Mariana Gerena, and Naomi Gerstel. 2007. “Extended Family Integration among Euro and Mexican Americans: Ethnicity, Gender, and Class.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 1 (February), 40-54.
Abstract: This article compares the extended family integration of Euro and Mexican American women and men and assesses the importance of class and culture in explaining ethnic differences. Using National Survey of Families and Households II data (N = 7,929), we find that ethnic differences depend on the dimension of integration. Mexican Americans exhibit higher rates of kin coresidence and proximity, but lower rates of financial support than Euro Americans. Two additional differences exist only among women: Mexican American women are more likely than Euro American women to give household or child care help. As to the explanation for these differences, social class is the key factor; cultural variables have little effect. Our findings support a theoretical framework attending to intersections among ethnicity, gender, and class.
Gerstel, Naomi, and Natalia Sarkisian. 2006. “Marriage: The Good, the Bad, and the Greedy.” Contexts, 5, 4 (November), 16-21.
Abstract: Even good marriages can have some bad side effects, taking people away from other social connections.
Sarkisian, Natalia, Mariana Gerena, and Naomi Gerstel. 2006. “Extended Family Ties among Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Whites: Superintegration or Disintegration?” Family Relations, 55, 3 (July), 331-344.
Abstract: Addressing recent theoretical debates, this study examined the differences in extended family integration among Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Whites, as well as the importance of culture and structure in explaining these differences. Our findings showed Whites and Latinos/as have distinctive patterns of extended family integration: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans exhibited higher rates of coresidence and proximate living than Whites; Whites had greater involvement in financial support than Mexicans or Puerto Ricans, but Mexicans were more involved in instrumental help. Structural factors such as income, education, and nuclear family composition explained much of these ethnic differences. The study’s findings suggest that policy should emphasize the unmet needs in Latino/a communities and the role of extended families.
Garroutte, Eva, Natalia Sarkisian, Lester Arguellos, Jack Goldberg, and Dedra Buchwald. 2006. “Cultural Identity and Perceptions of Health Status among American Indian Older Adults and Their Healthcare Providers.” Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21, 2 (February), 111-116.
Abstract: Background: Differences in provider-patient health perceptions have been associated with poor patient outcomes, but little is known about how patients’ cultural identities may be related to discordant perceptions. Objective: To examine whether health care providers and American-Indian patients disagreed on patient health status ratings, and how differences related to these patients’ strength of affiliation with American-Indian and white-American cultural identities. Design: Survey of patients and providers following primary care office visits. Participants: One hundred and fifteen patients >=50 years and 7 health care providers at a Cherokee Nation clinic. All patients were of American-Indian race, but varied in strength of affiliation with separate measures of American-Indian and white-American cultural identities. Measurements: Self-reported sociodemographic and cultural characteristics, and a 5-point rating of patient’s health completed by both patients and providers. Fixed-effects regression modeling examined the relationships of patients’ cultural identities with differences in provider-patient health rating. Results: In 40% of medical visits, providers and patients rated health differently, with providers typically judging patients healthier than patients’ self-rating. Provider-patient differences were greater for patients affiliating weakly with white cultural identity than for those affiliating strongly (adjusted mean difference=0.70 vs 0.12, P=.01). Differences in ratings were not associated with the separate measure of affiliation with American-Indian identity. Conclusions: American-Indian patients, especially those who affiliate weakly with white-American cultural identity, often perceive health status differently from their providers. Future research should explore sources of discordant perceptions.
Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. 2004. “Kin Support Among Blacks and Whites: Race and Family Organization.” American Sociological Review, 69, 4 (December), 812-837.
Abstract: This article addresses two central debates in the scholarship on black families: the disorganization versus superorganization debate and the culture versus structure debate. Focusing on kin support as a measure of family integration and using the National Survey of Families and Households (1992–1994), this article challenges the assumptions about black and white families in both debates. It shows that blacks and whites have different patterns of kin support involvement. Whereas blacks are more involved in practical support (help with transportation, household work, and child care), whites report greater involvement in financial and emotional kin support. This article also shows that gender is crucial for understanding racial differences. Black men and white men are very much alike, whereas there are many significant differences between black women and white women. Furthermore, in understanding kin support, diversity within racial groups appears to matter more than race itself. Social structure explains most of the racial differences in kin support, though cultural differences between whites and blacks do exist and help to explain kin support.
Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. 2004. “Explaining the Gender Gap in Help to Parents: The Importance of Employment.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 2 (May), 431-451.
Abstract: Although it is well established that adult daughters spend more time giving assistance to their parents than do sons, the sources of this gender gap are not well understood. This paper asks: To what extent can this gap be explained by structural variation, especially the different rates of employment and kinds of jobs that women and men tend to hold? Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households (N = 7,350), the paper shows that both employment status and job characteristics, especially wages and self-employment, are important factors in explaining the gender gap in the help given to parents, and that these operate similarly for women and men.