Academic journal article Family Relations

Families in Multicultural Perspective

Academic journal article Family Relations

Families in Multicultural Perspective

Article excerpt

Ingoldsby, Bron B., and Smith, Suzanna. (Eds.). (1995). Families in Multicultural Perspective. New York: Guilford. 432 pp. Hardcover ISBN 089862-307-3, price $45.00.

In this text, the editors bring together a team of contributors who focus on family studies using a comparative approach. This book is divided into five parts, each of which is designed to give an understanding of families in a broad context. The parts are broken down as follows: foundations of comparative family studies, family variation, family development, gender and family relations, and social inequality in the contemporary world. The authors state up front that they had three major goals in writing this text: (a) to increase students' recognition of and respect for cultural diversity as it influences family life; (b) to meet educators' needs for a comparative family text; and (c) to contribute to the development of new ways of thinking about families by examining diversity in families. Despite a very limited section on ethnic families in the U.S., generally I think the editors did an adequate job of achieving their stated goals.

Section one consists of three chapters that address the foundations of comparative family studies. The authors take a historical look at family theories, ways of defining the family, and research methodologies. Throughout this section, the authors dispel the myth that there was once a happy Western civilization family where everyone joined together to make the society a better place. It is argued effectively that Western social practices and research have been ethnoand Eurocentric and that other cultures have not been given consideration in the development of our cultural history. The chapter on family theory, in particular, would be beneficial to undergraduate classes in family studies and an excellent example of how to study families from a multicultural perspective.

Section two consists of three chapters that address family variation worldwide. This section, much like the first, provides us with definitions and regular usage of concepts like nuclear family, extended family, kinship, monogamy, and so forth. Definitions and applicability of these terms are compared crossculturally. …

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