“Marriages and Families” and “Diversity and Change”

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What does marriage in the United States and other countries around the world mean? Debunking has five myths about marriage 1- The Universal Nuclear Family, 2-The Self-Reliant Traditional Family, 3- The Naturalness of Different spheres for Wives and Husbands, 4- The Unstable African American Family, and 5- The Idealized Nuclear family of the 1950’s. The Universal Nuclear Family is basically everything under the sun. It is everything and anything describing family from monogamy to permanence. Having one spouse, two spouses, or even more, even just living together under the same roof is considered family. Basically regardless of race, gender, social status, and education, anyone living in the same house is family. The second myth, the Self-Reliant Traditional family, they did not get help for others they had to help themselves. No government assistance or any handouts of any kind would be taken by the family. They did not like owing debts and refuse to rely or depend on anyone but themselves. If there were a crisis they did what it took to survive and got through it with their family.

The third myth, different spheres for men and women, was around the mid- nineteenth century, and this is where it became the woman’s responsibility to be the main person to rear the child and the man was to provide and protect the family. Women stayed at home and did the household chores and small jobs while teaching the children. The man did the hard labor, mainly from sunrise to sunset, and worked all week. The best way to sum up myth four is “African American families experience a pattern of chronic and persistent poverty. Some of the most visible manifestations of this pattern are high levels of unemployment, welfare dependency, low marriage rates, high rates of teenage pregnancy, mother-focused families composed of a mother and her dependent children without a father, an increasing number of crack-addicted children, and an escalating level of violence in both men and women.” (Marriages and Families Over Time page 11). This stereotype still exists, many do not realize that African Americans are not all wallowing in poverty, and do not see how slavery is not the only thing that they have experienced. Myth five The Idealized Nuclear Family of the 1950’s are mostly due to the World War 1. It was the “Leave It To Beaver” time, in which the mother took care of the family and the children were respectful. The outside aperies were a happy family.

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The colonists bought many different family cultural backgrounds with them to America. Many colonists came to be free. A lot of the early colonists consisted of a wife, husband, and children. However, you were allowed to join the family if you were an orphan, hired laborer, unmarried individual, or child from another family. The men were the head of the household and had full control of discipline to everyone in the household. The African American family was greatly mistreated. They were taken out of their country and families and brought to the United States for slavery. Most slaves were not allowed to marry and when they did the values were not normal, it also said “distance do you part”. Their children were sold to keep the slaves from forming a bond with them, and at the age of 7 to 10, they had to live with the other unmarried youth. I would not make it as a slave. The Native American families were widely spread and have many cultures due to the separation. In most families, two families or lived under one roof. Most women married at the age of 12 to 15 to men several years older.

The word Family was transformed in the nineteenth century. Industrialization and urbanization was a huge impact on families. Technology came and brought the normal family work from home to working outside the home instead. This impacted mostly the white middle and upper class people. Millions of families immigrated from foreign countries to the United States to work. In the twentieth century technology affected almost every social relationship. Mother’s Day was birthed in the twentieth century and medical advances were made with life expectancy increased. The Great Depression took place in this century; thus came the hard economic times for many families. Thousands of jobs were lost and families that were once well off were then struggling to survive. The studies of methodological techniques involve surveys, observations, case studies, and ethnography. It is also a tool in sociological inquiry. Surveys can be done by asking people in person or questionnaire was given to the family to fill out. Observation is just that observing people to see how the interaction takes place. Case studies are a single unit of study. Ethnography it is a view point of a group. There are seven theoretical perspectives which consist of: structural functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, social-exchange theory, developmental family life cycle model, and feminist theories. All theories are based upon how we look and portray human behavior. Theoretical perspectives are important because assumptions provide framework for interpreting what we observe. Structural functionalisms are societies that are organic being of interrelated parts that work together in harmony like a human system. Talcott Parsons was the father of structural functionalism and Robert Merton expanded Parsons understanding of structural functionalism. Structural functionalisms are more concentrated on the position individuals fill than the individuals themselves.

Conflict theory is a society that is competitive over things, as to resources or power. Karl Marx came up with this theory in the 1960’s. Symbolic interactionism view symbols as a set of daily interactions that are guided by symbols in social life. People are able to define relationships to others and develop who they are as a person by using symbols. We attach meaning to things and actions. Social-Exchange theory is maximizing benefits and minimizing cost. When the risks outweigh the rewards, people will terminate and/or abandon the relationship. It may benefit the person more to stay in the relationship than to walk away from it, even if they are not happy. An example is a girl buys a gift for a sibling and when he shows a lack of interest, she abandons her attempt and spends her money and time on herself. The developmental family life cycle model is a model shows how the person is different in each stage of life. You change throughout life being in a family. At first you may be a wife or husband then a mother or dad. The family evolves every day, how about when the children move out or away from home. Even when your spouse passes away this changes you in your roll of whom you are in the family. The final feminist theories and perspectives cannot be explained without definition, as it has many. “It should adopt three basic philosophical approaches: 1 gender is the central focus, 2 status quo gender relations are viewed as problematic in that woman are defined as subordinate to men; 3 gender relations are viewed as the result of social, not natural factors “ (Chafetz, 1988)(Chapter 2 Ways of Studying and Explaining Marriages and Families pg 51) It is an outgrowth of the general movement to empower women worldwide.

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“Marriages and Families” and “Diversity and Change”. (2016, Nov 12). Retrieved from


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