Towards Improving Surveys of Living Arrangements among Poor African Americans

By Golub, Andrew; Strickler, Jennifer et al. | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, July-August 2012 | Go to article overview

Towards Improving Surveys of Living Arrangements among Poor African Americans


Golub, Andrew, Strickler, Jennifer, Dunlap, Eloise, Journal of Comparative Family Studies


INTRODUCTION

This paper examines a mismatch between the surveys used to study U.S. household composition and the dynamics of living arrangements prevailing among many low-income African Americans. Recent changes in surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau described below are partially responsive to this need, but not nearly sufficient. Historically, U.S. survey instruments have been organized around measuring the number of households that include a married heterosexual couple with their children and the proportion of households or families that deviate from this common pattern. In this manner, these questionnaires have presumed that the married nuclear family is the focal point of social organization in the U.S. (Edgell & Docka, 2007; Gring-Pemble, 2003; Smith, 1993). We refer to this perspective as the marriage paradigm. This framework is proving increasingly insufficient for understanding prevailing household living arrangements, especially among minority populations (Seltzer et al., 2005). Marriage among African Americans, especially low-income African Americans, has been in decline for decades (Ruggles, 1994; Tucker & Mitchell-Kernan, 1995). Additionally, low-income African American youths are less likely to report that they expect to get married suggesting this pattern may be deeply entrenched (Crissey, 2005; Manning, Longmore, & Giordano, 2007).

Improving survey questions involves operationalizing our growing understanding of the prevailing paradigms for household and family formation to measure a wider range of relationship statuses. Based on a synthesis of the literature, we contend that many low-income African Americans are involved with a paradigm for family formation that needs to be understood on its own terms. Many low-income African Americans (perhaps especially those living in the inner city) engage in a series of short-lived cohabitations leading to children with a succession of partners (Furstenberg, 1995a; Lichter & Qian, 2008; Manning & Smock, 2000). Among low-income African Americans, cohabitation relationships are much less likely to result in marriage and are often short lived (Brown, 2000; Carlson, McLanahan, & England, 2004; Smock & Manning, 2004). This results in multiple-partner fertility in which a female has children with more than one biological father or a male has biological children by more than one female (Carlson & Furstenberg, 2006; Golub & Dunlap, 2010; Guzzo & Furstenberg, 2007a, 2007b; Manlove, Logan, Ikramullah, & Holcombe, 2008). Typically, the female partner retains custody of any children when a relationship ends. These single mothers are then in a strong position to obtain government subsidized housing. When a relationship ends, males often move back in with their mother or another relative, start a new relationship, or live on the street. Females tend to have more established living arrangements than their male counterparts. Hence, when a new relationship forms it is typically the male that is invited to move in with a female and her children from any prior relationships. When a new partner moves in, he becomes integrated into the household and typically serves as a social father to any children present for as long as he remains (Dunlap, Golub, & Benoit, 2010; Furstenberg, 1995b; Jarrett, Roy, & Burton, 2002; Jayakody & Kalil, 2002; Roy & Burton, 2007).

As yet, the literature has not settled upon a term for this living arrangement paradigm. There are a variety of terms used to refer to specific aspects of this experience. Serial cohabitation emphasizes having multiple successive partners. Multiple-partner fertility emphasizes having children with more than one partner. Fragile families emphasizes that cohabiting partners of young children are unlikely to stay together. At this time, we use the term transient domesticity to emphasize the tenuous nature of the relationships involved.

To date, most of our work on transient domesticity has been ethnographic and focused on urban residents. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Towards Improving Surveys of Living Arrangements among Poor African Americans
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.