Editor's Comments

By White, James M. | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, May-June 2013 | Go to article overview

Editor's Comments


White, James M., Journal of Comparative Family Studies


It is sometimes difficult to envision common themes across research articles within any given issue of the Journal of Comparative Family Studies. This is not the case with the current issue number three. Indeed, it is serendipitous that the papers accepted for this issue also compose a unitary theme. This theme is the pace and nature of social change in families at this early point in the twenty-first century. We divide this major theme into three specific areas of research: postmodern families, changing gendered division of household labor, and the development of arranged marriages in changing social contexts.

Researching Postmodern Families in the 21st Century is a general theme nicely introduced by Rosalina Pisco Costa's Family Rituals: Mapping the Postmodern Family through Time, Space and Emotion, winner of the 2012 Early Stage Family Scholar Award from the research Committee on Family Research of the International Sociological Association. This paper addresses the notion of family events as phenomenological markers in time and place. This is a splendid example of research that is theoretically driven and makes a contribution not only to the phenomenology of the family but also has implications as to how we as researcher handle 'time' as a variable in such areas as life course and event histories.

The theme of postmodern families is continued in the paper by Wijckmans and Van Bavel, Divorce and Adult Children's Perceptions of Family Obligations. Much of the existing research on divorce seems to document declining assistance and resources as an outcome. But this finding may be contextualized by a period of development where we are moving to new family forms in the life course. This paper present findings that would suggest we need to take a deeper look at this area For example, Wijckmans and Van Bavel use data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NICPS) to investigate the more attitudinal and normative dimensions of resources and assistance and "that divorce is positively associated with norms of family obligations, even after controlling for the exchange of support between the generations and the perceived quality of the relationship." This paper strongly recommends that we continue to revisit the area of post-divorce family reorganization as we move into increasingly complex life course trajectories.

Certainly the area of Gendered Housework and Effects on Relationships is well researched by family scholars. Although this area has shown some theoretical development in regard to divorce, there is scant attention to interactions such as the income of the wife on husband's housework attitudes. John Simister's paper Is Men's Share of Housework Reduced by "Gender Deviance Neutralization?" Evidence from Seven Countries examines this hypothesis. His finding also "push" our theoretical development with the notions of 'gender symmetry and asymmetry' in work roles. …

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