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A Sociology of Family Life

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4779-1
256 pages
May 2012, Polity
A Sociology of Family Life (0745647790) cover image

Description

New kinds of intimate relationships such as post-divorce families, co-habiting couples, ‘friends as family' and same-sex unions are now commonplace. This book explores the growing diversity of family life by presenting a comprehensive assessment of recent research and theory, and foregrounds new thinking about ‘family', parenting, childhood and personal life.

A Sociology of Family Life queries notions of moral decline by revealing a remarkable persistence of commitment and reciprocity across cultures in traditional and new family relations. This insightful and innovative work examines factors such as gender, race, ethnic identity and new sexual lifestyles in relation to cultural customs, government policies and social inequalities.

Global dimensions of intimate life are explored, including the impact of population policies on fertility in several nations; ethical dilemmas associated with reproductive technologies among different cultures; interdependencies between rich and poor nations through the globalization of domestic care; and transnational marriage strategies. This book will be indispensable for students across the social sciences interested in change in intimate relations.

Selected by Choice as a 2013 Outstanding Academic Title

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements page viii

Introduction 1

1 Traditional Approaches to the Family 14

Late nineteenth-century sociological perspectives 15

Engels: family, private property and the state 18

The twentieth-century functional family 20

Companionate marriage 23

Community and kinship studies 25

Constructions of race in family studies 26

Feminism and families 29

Conclusions 32

2 Individualization, Intimacy and Family Life 34

Individualization and changing families 35

Doing and displaying families 41

‘Unconventional’ family relationships 45

Same-sex intimacies and families of choice 47

Minority ethnic kinship ties 51

Conclusions 53

3 Parenting Practices and Values 55

Changing ideas about parenthood 55

Morality and motherhood 58

Teenage mothers 62

Traditional and new models of fatherhood 64

Fatherhood after divorce 67

Minority ethnic parenting 68

Gay and lesbian parenting 71

Conclusions 73

4 The Changing Nature of Childhood 76

Past ideas about childhood 77

Children’s agency 78

Children and divorced families 81

Childhood, consumption and class 83

Children, new media and the home 88

The privatization of childhood 90

Conclusions 92

5 Families and Ageing Societies 94

Changing dynamics of ageing and family life in western societies 95

Older people and patterns of family support 96

Gender differences among older people 101

Same-sex relationships among older people 102

Globalization, old age and traditional kinship customs 105

Conclusions 111

6 Globalization, Migration and Intimate Relations 114

Gendered migration patterns 115

Globalization, migration and family care 116

Marriage strategies and mobility 122

Commercially negotiated marriage 124

Sustaining cultural traditions in diasporic settings 127

Internet dating and ‘mail-order brides’ 129

Conclusions 132

7 Families, Fertility and Populations 135

Governments and family planning 135

Romania’s pro-natalist policy under Ceausescu 137

India’s preference for sons 140

China’s ‘one-child’ policy 145

Demographic defi cit in developed nations 149

Conclusions 152

8 Families and New Reproductive Technologies 154

Assisted conception and relatedness 155

Approaches to new reproductive technologies 156

Donor insemination and the regulation of families 159

Views on infertility treatment among the South Asian diasporas 163

Donor technologies in the Muslim Middle East 166

Commercial surrogacy in India 169

Conclusions 172

9 New Directions: Personal Life, Family and Friendship 174

The politics of family values 175

Family diversity and personal life 179

Friends and personal communities 182

New intimacies 184

Global and economic dimensions of intimacy and family 187

Notes 191

Bibliography 193

Index 230

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Author Information

Deborah Chambers is professor of media and cultural studies at Newcastle University.
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The Wiley Advantage

  • Explores the growing diversity of family life and new sociological thinking about ‘family’, parenting, childhood and personal life.
  • Presents a comprehensive assessment of recent research and theory.
  • Examines factors such as gender, race, ethnic identity and new sexual lifestyles in relation to cultural customs, government policies and social inequalities.
  • Includes global dimensions of families in the 21st century, taking in different national and cultural perspectives.
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Reviews

'This book covers an impressive amount of ground both geographically and in terms of topics. Stressing the themes of diversity and the need to take a global perspective in family studies, Deborah Chambers provides authoritative and lucid insights into some urgent scholarly and political debates. This is a family text for our times.'
David H. J. Morgan, University of Manchester

'This is a terrific book. It aptly demonstrates just how much families have changed even as it demonstrates that care and connection remain central aspects of the personal communities individuals construct. In addition, the author uses fascinating cross-cultural examples to shake complacency about which way is best. It is a perfect choice for courses on the sociology of the family.'
Margaret K. Nelson, Middlebury College

'A Sociology of Family Life is an excellent text. Well structured and clearly written, the book will appeal to a wide range of students taking family sociology modules. It lucidly introduces readers to contemporary debates within the sociology of the family, expressing complex themes in a coherent and accessible fashion.'
Graham Allan, Keele University

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