Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Sibling Relationsips in Step-Families: A Sociological Study

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Sibling Relationsips in Step-Families: A Sociological Study

Article excerpt

Monique Dietrich. SIBLING RELATIONSIPS IN STEP-FAMILIES: A SOCIOLOGICAL STUDY. Edwin Mellan Press, Decarber 2008, 160 pp. Hardcover, $99.95 US.

The sibling relationship is one of the longest enduring relationships in families, including stepfamilies. However , we knew very little about them in this family form. Therefore, with much anticipation I began reading this bock as it had the potential for contibuting to an area that lacks an adequate research base. In some respects this back does provide an interesting insight on the existing sibling literature. However the studies upon which the back is based contain weaknesses that undermine the strength of her findings regardig sibling relationships in stepfamilies. He back is based on the findings of three different studies by the author: an observational study of a series of blended family workshops, reflections of 215 young adults from a "Family of Orientaticn'' assignment, and an examination of three secondary data sets.

The first two chapters go into great detail on the histoy of family life in the U.S. and classical and contemporary views of marriage in America. In this section the author demonstrates that children are resilient and able to cope with their parents' divorce. She then highlights how stable and loving stepfamilies can be. Diderich follows this discussion with an outline of four theoretical perspectives commonly used in family research: Structural functionalism, Social exchange theory, Evolutionary theory, and Feminist theory. While I enjoyed reading the author's description of the history of American family life and major theoretical perspectives, I found that this section lacked a strong critique of past research. As this beck highlights studies completed by Diderich, I expected her to make clear tme theoretical perspective that she would be using as a framework for the study in this section; she does not.

The third chapter gives a very comprehensive review of research on sibling relationships including: sibling differentiation, sibling solidarity , and sibling rivalry. This section was well -researched and possibly the greatest contribution of the book.

The author presents a description of the methedology of the study in the fourth chapter. She begins by presenting her hypotheses for the study including finding: more functional, associational and affectual solidarity between full siblings than between half or step siblings, a greater level of interaction amng siblings with higher levels of solidarity, same-sex siblings close in age will have more solidarity, and married siblings will display less solidarity than unmarried siblings. …

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