Families as Relationships

Families as Relationships

Families as Relationships

Families as Relationships

Synopsis

The field of family studies has recently seen the development of a more specialized focus on the character of particular relationships. The nature of these relationships may take many forms but typically involves individuals who view themselves as a unit with a long-term commitment to continue their relationship. Traditionally, at least in western societies, families are defined in terms of two parents living together with responsibility for rearing their children. However, these so-called nuclear families are becoming a rarer phenomenon. Single-parent families, childless couples, lesbian or gay male couples are also all represented in the broad mix of relations referred to as families. Each of the chapters in this book deals with a primary relationship issue. These include: issues of early marriage how young relationships become enduring relationships parent and child relations conflict between partners the interface between work and family life marital quality and maintenance divorce and its impact on the family aging and older families This volume provides a useful reference for professionals whose research and/or clinical practice focuses on family relationship issues. This book is also intended for advanced students in the areas of sociology, close relationships and family sciences. Families as Relationships is one of a series of paperbacks dedicated to the study and application of processes by which individuals relate to each other in social and family settings. Each book provides an expanded and up-to-date version of a section in the original Handbook of Personal Relationships (second edition) edited by Steve Duck.

Excerpt

Although the field of family studies has a long and rich academic history, it has only recently seen the development of a more specialized focus on the character of particular relationships. The nature of these relationships may take many forms but typically involves individuals who view themselves as a unit with a long-term commitment to continue their relationship. Traditionally, at least in western societies, families are defined in terms of two parents living together with responsibility for rearing their children. In fact, these so-called nuclear families are unique in many respects. For instance, in the United States the Bureau of the Census reported in 1998 that married couples living together with one or more children represented only 23% of all American families, married couples have declined as a proportion of all households from over 70% in 1970 to 53% in 1998, and approximately 25% of all white births, 41% of Hispanic births and 70% of African–American births occur outside of marriage (Teachman, Tedrow, & Crowder, in press). Single parent families, childless couples, lesbian or gay male couples with or without children are all represented in the broad mix of relations we may usefully refer to as families.

Families as Relationships is composed of ten chapters. Six of these chapters -originally appeared in the Handbook of Personal Relationships (Duck et al., 1997) although they have all been revised, some quite substantially, to take advantages of developments that have occurred since the initial publication of the Handbook. Three entirely new chapters (Chapters 1, 4 and 8) have been commissioned especially for this volume (those by Katherine Allen and Alexis Walker, Esther Kluwer, and Mark Fine and David Demo) and a substantially revised positioning chapter has been added (Chapter 10 by Duck, Acitelli and Nicholson). Our purpose in assembling this work is based on the belief that the dynamics of personal relationships are a key basis of social life and remain a central concern for students, now that courses on personal relationships are increasing in a variety of disciplines. What is lacking for such readers is an affordable source of high quality and theoretical breadth and strength that focuses on the particular contributions of specific disciplines. The main purpose of the present paperback book was to be not only a compendium of past achievements but a source of inspiration. We hope that it will prove a whetstone for the cutting edge and a stimulus for further work, while also offering a state-of-the-art survey of a particular field of scholarship about . . .

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