SC008: Marriage and Family Blog Page

Your blog entries should be brief statements commenting on each of the assigned readings. You should make sure to accomplish the following three goals in your blog entries: (1) summarize the assigned readings; (2) critically evaluate the readings and state your opinion; and (3) answer the questions posted here. Be analytic and critical, but also let me know what you’ve learned. And if something is unclear, please let me know in your blog, and I will address the issue in class.

Due May 4, 2007, 12PM:
1. Hansen, Karen V. 2005. Chapter 1, pp. 1-24, in Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care. Rutgers University Press.
2. 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.

1. What kind of clash between beliefs and practices does Hansen describe? How is it related to the ideology of SNAF? What role do structures of work and school play in creating this clash?
2. According to Sarkisian, Gerena, and Gerstel, what are the ethnic differences in extended family integration? What accounts for these differences?

Due April 27, 2007, 12PM:
1. Stephanie Coontz. 1997. "Putting Divorce in Perspective." Pp. 97-108 in The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America's Changing Families. NY: Basic Books.
2. Frank F. Furstenberg and Andrew J. Cherlin. 2001. "Children’s Adjustment to Divorce." Pp. 491-499 in Family Patterns, Gender Relations. Edited by Bonnie J. Fox. Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press.
3. Carr, Deborah. 2006. "Good Grief: Bouncing Back from a Spouse’s Death in Later Life." Contexts, 5, 4, 22-27.

1. According to the research presented by Stephanie Coontz, how does divorce affect children, and what factors account for the variation in these effects?
2. According to Furstenberg and Cherlin, what factors affect short-term and long-term adjustment of children to divorce?
3. According to Carr, what three factors are the most important influences on spousal bereavement? How does gender shape the experience of spousal loss?

Due April 20, 2007, 12PM:
1. Barrie Thorne and Zella Luria. 1997. "Sexuality and Gender in Children’s Daily Worlds." Pp. 141-152 in Down to Earth Sociology: Introductory Readings. Edited by James M. Henslin. New York: The Free Press.
2. Annette Lareau. 2002. "Invisible Inequality: Social Class and Childrearing in Black Families and White Families." American Sociological Review, v. 67 (5): 747-776.
3. Frances K. Goldschneider and Linda J. Waite. 2001. "Children’s Share in Household Tasks." In Shifting the Center: Understanding Contemporary Families, 2nd ed. Edited by Susan J. Ferguson. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.
4. Juliet Schor. 2004. "America’s Most Wanted: Inside the World of Young Consumers." Boston College Magazine, 54, 4 (Fall), pp.30-37.

1. According to Thorne and Luria, what aspect of childhood experience serves as one of the main sources of gender differences? How does it operate?
2. According to Goldscheider and Waite, how much housework do children do in contemporary families? How does it vary by child’s gender and type of family?
3. According to Annette Lareau, how do the models of childrearing differ by race and class?
4. What are the signs of commercialization of childhood presented in Juliet Schor’s article? How does this commercialization affect children’s well-being?

Due April 13, 2007, 12PM:
1. Joseph H. Pleck. 1987. "American Fathering in Historical Perspective." Pp. 83-97 in Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity. Edited by Michael S. Kimmel. Sage Publications.
2. Francine Deutsch. 2002. "Halving It All: The Mother and Mr. Mom." In Families at Work: Expanding the Boundaries. Edited by Naomi Gerstel, Dan Clawson, and Robert Zussman. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
3. Dorothy Roberts. 1998. "The Absent Black Father." Pp. 145-161 in Lost Fathers: The Politics of Fatherlessness in America. Edited by Cynthia R. Daniels. St. Martin's Press.

1. According to Joseph Pleck, how did the role of fathers change in the United States over time? What are the expectations about fatherhood today, both according to the article and based on your own observations?
2. According to Francine Deutsch, why do couples with children decide to work alternating shifts, and how is that decision related to their social class status? How does these families' division of labor compare to their gender ideologies? Would you select an alternating shift arrangement for your family?
3. According to Dorothy Roberts, what are the societal forces that discourage family participation of Black fathers? What elements of Black fatherhood led to the creation of the myth of the Absent Black Father, and what patterns of Black men’s behavior contradict this myth?

Due April 4, 2007, 12PM:
Critical Analysis of Family Life:
For this week's blog entry, I would like you to consider how race, gender, social class, and sexuality (1) impacted and shaped your family life so far, (2) affected your ideas about families, and (3) might affect your family life in the future. The purpose of this assignment is to get you thinking about how social positions affect our family experiences as well as to contemplate what your beliefs are and why you have them. Such things often seem "normal" or "natural" so try to think critically when doing this exercise. This blog entry will be graded based on your critical thinking about these issues. WARNING: Before posting this blog entry, please pause for a minute and think: does this blog reveal any information that you would rather not make public? If so, you can choose to send me your blog entry by email this week.

Due March 28, 2007, 12PM:
1. Sharon Hays. 1996. "From Rods to Reasoning." Pp. 19-50 in The Cultural Contradictions of Mothering. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
2. Ann Crittenden. 2001. "Introduction." Pp. 1-12 in The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued. New York: Metropolitan Books.
3. Patricia Hill Collins. 2000. "Black Women and Motherhood." Pp. 173-200 in Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, 2nd edition. New York: Routledge.
4. Edin, Kathryn, and Maria Kefalas. 2005. Unmarried with Children. Contexts, 4, 2, 16-22.

1. According to Hays, what were the four historical stages of development in the cultural notions of appropriate mothering in America in 17-20th centuries? What is intensive mothering, and does this concept apply to your mother or mothers of your friends?
2. In Crittenden's view, what are the main indicators that mothering is devalued in the United States? Do you agree with her?
3. According to Collins, what are the two types of mothering that Black women tend to do? How are these related to the notion of "motherhood as a symbol of power"?
4. According to Edin and Kefalas, what are the poor women's attitudes on and experiences with marriage and childbearing, and what can the society do to help these women get out of poverty? What is your opinion?

Due March 21, 2007, 12PM:
1. Chris Hafner-Eaton and Laurie K. Pearce. 1994. "Balancing Individual Freedoms and Protection of the Public Health." Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 19, 813-820.
2. Friedman, Lawrence. 2007. Who Are Our Children? Adoption, Past and Present. Pp. 272-281 in Arlene S. Skolnick & Jerome H. Skolnick (Eds.), Family in Transition (14th ed.). New York: Allyn & Bacon.
3. Sharon Hays. 2003. "Money and Morality." Pp. 9-24 in Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform. New York: Oxford University Press.
4. Block, Fred, Anna C. Korteweg, and Kerry Woodward, with Zach Schiller and Imrul Mazid. 2006. The Compassion Gap in American Poverty Policy. Contexts, 5, 2, 14-20.
5. Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel. 2002. "Caring For Young Children: What the U.S. Can Learn from Some European Examples." Contexts, 1, 4, 28-35.

1. According to Hafner-Eaton and Pierce, what are the reasons why some prefer to give birth at home with the assistance of a midwife? What is your opinion about the best setting for giving birth?
2. How did the legal ties between parents and children change over time? How did the adoption laws changed? Historically, what was the purpose of formal adoptions?
3. According to Sharon Hays, what are the conservative and liberal views of welfare? What are the main differences between the requirements introduced by the welfare reform of 1996 and the earlier welfare policies? What are the two contradictory visions represented in the welfare reform? What does the welfare reform tell us about the values of our society?
4. According to Block, Korteweg and Woodward, how do countries such as Norway understand poverty? And what is the prevailing theory of why poor people are poor in the United States? How does this theory operate as a self-fulfilling prophecy? According to the authors, what can we do to make American Dream more accessible to the poor?
5. According to Clawson and Gerstel, how can we improve the child care system in the U.S.?

Due March 14, 2007, 12PM:
1. Felson, Richard. 2006. Is Violence Against Women About Women or About Violence? Contexts, 5, 2, 21-25.
2. Ann Jones. 1994. "Why Doesn’t She Leave?" Pp. 129-139, 152-166 in Next Time, She’ll Be Dead: Battering and How to Stop It. Boston: Beacon Press.
3. James Ptacek. 1988. "Why Do Men Batter Their Wives?" Pp. 133-157 in Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse. Edited by Kerti Yllo and Michele Bogrod. Sage Publications.

1. Based on Felson's article, explain the gender perspective and the violence perspective to understanding violence against women. What evidence does Felson use to make his argument? What is your position regarding these two perspectives?
2. What is Jones's answer to the question posed in the title of her article, "Why Doesn't She Leave?" What is your opinion? Relate Jones's views to the gender vs violence debate described by Felson.
3. According to Ptacek, what are the denials and justifications that men use to explain their abusive behavior? What kind of contradictions can we see in the explanations offered by men? Relate Ptacek's findings to the gender vs violence debate.

Due February 26, 2007, 12PM:
1. Arlie Russell Hochschild. 1990. "Joey’s Problem: Nancy and Evan Holt." Pp. 33-58 (Chapter 4) in The Second Shift. Avon Books.
2. Joan Williams. 2000. "Introduction" and "Is Domesticity Dead? (Chapter 1)." Pp. 1-39 in Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It. New York: Oxford University Press.
3. Christopher Carrington. 2002. "Domesticity and the Political Economy of Lesbigay Families." Pp. 82-107 in Families at Work: Expanding the Boundaries. Edited by Naomi Gerstel, Dan Clawson, and Robert Zussman. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

1. Briefly explain the egalitarian myth that Hochschild documents in her chapter. What is emotion work and how is it related to this myth? Compare Holts' situation with your observations on the division of labor in your family or those of your friends.
2. Explain the concept of the "ideology of domesticity" described by Williams. What are the three constraints that domesticity places on the organization of work in our society? Based on what you learned from lectures and movies, did ideology of domesticity exist in hunters and gatherers societies? In colonial America? Use specific examples to support your answers.
3. Explain Williams’s argument about sex discrimination and the "free choice." Do you agree with her?
4. According to Carrington, how does the household division of labor in lesbigay families compare to that in heterosexual families? In his view, what are the reasons for these differences or similarities?

Due February 19, 2007, 12PM:
1. Stephanie Coontz. 1997. "The Future of Marriage." Pp. 77-95 (Chapter 4) in The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America's Changing Families. New York: Basic Books.
2. Elise Harris. 2000. "Can Marriage Be Saved? An Unsentimental Case for Matrimony." Lingua Franca, November.
3. Gerstel, Naomi, and Natalia Sarkisian. 2006. "Marriage: The Good, the Bad, and the Greedy." Contexts, 5, 4, 16-21.
4. Brown, Susan I. 2005. "How Cohabitation Is Reshaping American Families." Contexts, 4, 3, 33-27.

1. What does it mean when sociologists say, "marriage is an institution"? According to Stephanie Coontz, what are the indicators of the "deinstitutionalization" of marriage? Explain what problems Coontz finds in the proposals to "reinstitutionalize marriage."
2. According to the articles by Harris and by Gerstel and Sarkisian, what are the benefits and disadvantages of marriage for women and men?
3. According to Brown, what are the different reasons people cohabit, and what are the effects of cohabitation on well-being?
4. The findings of the research on benefits and disadvantages of marriage and cohabitation can be affected by selection effects. Explain what that means.

Due February 12, 2007, 12PM:
1. Barbara Risman and Pepper Schwartz. 2002. "After the Sexual Revolution: Gender Politics in Teen Dating." Contexts, 1, Spring, pp. 16-24.
2. England, Paula, and Reuben Thomas. 2007. The Decline of the Date and the Rise of the College Hook Up. Pp.151-162 in Arlene S. Skolnick & Jerome H. Skolnick (Eds.), Family in Transition (14th ed.). New York: Allyn & Bacon.

According to Risman and Schwartz article, what are the main trends in sexual activity among teens? How do the authors explain these trends? According to England and Thomas, what are the main trends in romantic and sexual behavior among college students? What gender differences are documented in both of these articles? Compare these authors' observations to your own high school and college experiences.

Due February 5, 2007, 12PM:
1. John D’Emilio and Estelle Freedman. 1997. "Family Life and the Regulation of Deviance." Pp. 15-38 in Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, 2nd edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
2. John D’Emilio. 1983. "Capitalism and Gay Identity." Pp. 100-113 in Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality. Edited by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Tompson. New York: Monthly Review Press.

1. Describe the Puritan approach to sexual desire. What was the ideal of sexuality in colonial America? How did people learn about sexuality? How did colonial society deal with sexual "deviance" and what were the two main goals of regulating it?
2. D’Emilio argues that the relationship between capitalism and the family is contradictory. Explain this argument, and then summarize his argument about gay identity and capitalism. Do you agree with this argument? Why or why not?

Due January 29, 2007, 12PM:
"Families in the News" Exercise
Select one family-related issue that interests you and collect at least five recent articles that deal with this issue, published in 2006-07 in newspapers or news magazines. Get articles from a range of sources: local newspapers, major national newspapers (USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post), and news magazines. You can use Lexis Nexis to locate the articles.

For each article, report the full citation (article title, newspaper or magazine name, and date) and write a paragraph addressing the following questions:
1. What kinds of "facts" (census statistics, research findings, informal interview results, etc.) are presented in the article? Do the authors provide any information about the way the "facts" were collected or the way subjects were recruited?
2. If research findings are cited, what methods of research were used? Is there sufficient information to evaluate the quality of this research?
3. Does a particular political ideology, theoretical framework, or set of beliefs appear to guide the article?

Then, write a concluding paragraph addressing the following questions:
1. Can you identify some main debates (controversies) for your topic? Do you think the authors’ positions in these debates (i.e., their values) affect their presentation of the facts and their conclusions?
2. What can you conclude about the "trustworthiness" of information about families as presented in the popular press? Are some press sources more "objective" than others? How do you think the coverage of family issues in the media affects our knowledge of families?

Due January 22, 2007, 12PM:
1. David Popenoe. 1993. "American Family Decline, 1960-1990: A Review and Appraisal."Journal of Marriage and the Family, v.55: 527-542.
2. Judith Stacey. 1993. "Good Riddance to "The Family": A Response to David Popenoe."Journal of Marriage and the Family, v.55: 545-547.
3. Philip Cowan. 1993. "The Sky Is Falling, But Popenoe’s Analysis Won’t Help Us Do Anything About It."Journal of Marriage and the Family, v.55: 548-553.

Explain the debate surrounding the contemporary changes in American families ("American Family Decline" debate). According to Popenoe, what indicates that American family is in decline? What are the Stacey’s and Cowan’s critiques of his argument? What position would you take in this debate and why?

Students' Blogs

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Last update: April 30, 2007.