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Research Papers on the Transformation of the American Family

Research papers on the transformation of the American family discuss the sociological changes that have taken place to the structure of the family in America. Paper Masters custom writes research on marriage, family and relationships for sociology classes on any topic you need.

Social change is an important part of the world in which we live.  As society changes, so too have the demands placed on families.  Over the past fifty years, for instance, we have witnessed the transformation of the American family from the “Brady Bunch” ideal, into a melting pot of what is considered the mainstream of family life.  From single-parent homes, to dual income homes in which neither parent is continually available to the children, the rapid social change that consumes us on a daily basis has given rise to a myriad of lifestyles and family structures.

Transformation of the American Family

Considering the vast amount of change that has taken place within the structure of the American family, one invariably begins to make comparisons between structures to see which closely resembles the modern American family.  While some authors argue that the modern American family most closely resembles the affectional family structure, with modifications for the reality of family life, many experts have argued that the ideals of family life have changed so dramatically that there is no resemblance between the modern American family and the affectional family.

To ascertain which side is correct, one must first consider the affectional family structure.  The affectional family represents a family structure which is typically characterized by “autonomous nuclear family units, with ties between generations based in a willingness to support each other when necessary. This means that although there are very few three generational households today, family ties and values are maintained through visits, telephone calls, and exchange of goods and services.  Customarily, this type of family structure focused on the education of the children so that family values, morals and traditions could be passed down from generation to generation.

Many critics have argued the change in the affectional family structure is more a result of the realities of family life rather than a shift in ideals.  The idea of the changing reality of family life is well noted by one author who maintains: “Even if everyone wanted to spend part of their family cycle in a three-generation household, it still would not be possible for many families”.  Kain believes that, historically, this reality is promulgated by the fact that often times, third-generation elders seldom lived long enough to co-exist within the confines of the nuclear family.

Popenoe defines “Family decline” as becoming weaker as an institution. He also lists five trends that can be used to measure the degree to which a declination has occurred.

  1. The act of individual members of a family to become more autonomous and less bound by the family.
  2. The family becomes less able to carry out its “greater social function” – “procreation at a level to replace the population, the regulation of sexual behaviors, socializing children and providing care for it members”.
  3. The family loses its power of influence over its members to other social institutions, such as schools, the media and government.
  4. The decreased size of the family unit also decreases its stability, and its ability to maintain an adequate amount of time with its members.
  5. The “ism” of family loses ground to other values such as individualism and egalitarianism.

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