Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Handbook of Social Support and the Family

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Handbook of Social Support and the Family

Article excerpt

Handbook of Social Support and the Family. Gregory R. Pierce, Barbara R. Sarason, & Irwin G. Sarason (Eds.). New York: Plenum Press. 1996. 573 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-306-452324. $85.00 cloth.

This book is part of the Plenum series on stress and coping. The collection of 21 chapters is divided into three sections. The four chapters in the first section provide an overview of conceptual and methodological issues in social support research. The second section includes nine chapters that examine how support influences spousal and parent-child relationships over the life span. The last section contains eight chapters that examine support in the context of normative (e.g., transition to parenting) and nonnormative (e.g., substance abuse) family stressors.

The contributors to this text represent several disciplines, including psychology, comunication, social ecology, family studies, and medicine. This approach is one of the volume's strengths-the authors integrate support research from diverse perspectives. For example, at the macro level, three chapters address how collectivism-individualism and ethnic variations in identity influence support provision and receipt. At the micro level, four chapters examine the role of intrapersonal cognitive factors (e.g., information processing, selfevaluation) in family and peer support, as well. In this way, these chapters bring together literature to which family professionals may not have been previously exposed.

However, this approach is also the text's primary weakness. The book is unbalanced in several ways. For example, the editors state that "scholars concerned with the contribution of the family environment to children's social development have a long tradition of acknowledging the important role played by a supportive, caring environment" (p. …

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