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Competing Family Models, Competing Social Policies

Reviews 0. Updating Results. If you wish to place a tax exempt order please contact us. Only in the s did the myth of the happy, nuclear family as the correct family structure arise. Grandparents are also doing their bit. To paraphrase the quote, family structure is changing drastically and there is a vast variety of different family structures. Yet Coontz argues in Marriage, A History that during the 20th century, marriages have become increasingly unstable in the United States as individuals have begun to seek unions for the ideals of love and affection rather than social or economic expediency.

Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild argues in The Second Shift that despite changes in perceptions of the purpose of marriage and the economic foundations for marriage, women continue to do the bulk of care work to the detriment of the American family. Hochschild illustrates the ways in which an unequal division of the second shift undermines family welfare by reducing marital equality and spousal satisfaction. Families and marriage have increasingly become areas where gender matters.

However, it is important to note that gender differences in marriage have too often been perceived as merely an "individual struggle and depoliticized by reducing social inequalities to differences". There are many theoretical models to describe how people determine who to marry.

An Introduction to Family Sociology in Canada

An important gender-focused approach is an intersectional approach that combines education level and gender. Men and women operate in a "marriage market" that is influenced by many competing factors. One of the most decisive factors is education level. Studies have shown that men and women tend to marry partners that have attained a level of education similar to their own. In the study by Bruze, Svarer, and Weiss, low education is defined as a high school education or less, medium education is defined as vocational education, and high education is defined as a college education Consequently, individuals "are selected into and out of the marriage market on the basis of their education".

The driving force behind this process is that a marriage in which both partners or only the husband have low education end with divorce at a substantially higher rate than marriages where both partners or the husband do not have low education. Young women with medium education levels tend to have the highest rates of marriage. Highly educated men tend to marry highly educated women. Moreover, men and women who have attained high levels of education delay marriage past the age when other individuals typically marry.

Another important intersectional factor to consider in relation to gender and marriage is marriage markets. Analyzing marriage markets as they pertain to marriage has several benefits. First, marriage market conditions are forces that influence marriage from outside they subjects affect, which means they impact the general trends of marriage decisions. In addition, Job stability benefits both employeers through greater productivity and families though more cohesion.

Second, marriage market conditions may capture many economic influences.


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In weak marriage markets when there is high unemployment couples who would like to get married may delay doing so due to unemployment or financial troubles. Furthermore, even couples that are already married may face doubts about the future economic status of themselves or their partners, which can create marital instability. Conversely, strong labor markets when unemployment is low may improve the employment situation and financial situation of either partner, which may facilitate marriage and increase economic stability.

Chapter 14. Marriage and Family

Social class interacts with gender to impact the male-female dynamic in marriage, particularly with respect to "temporal flexibility at work and home". Conversely, men and women who do not have access to such flexibility and control of their time are pressured to weaken conventional gender expectations regarding marriage, family, and jobs.

Gertsel and Clawson conducted a study in which they collected data from four groups of paid care workers, divided by class and gender The nurses were almost exclusively women and the doctors were almost exclusively men. This group had a number of choices about work hours and their ability to utilize family-friendly workplace policies. The class-disadvantaged group had fewer choices regarding their work hours and faced greater constraints in flexibility and control of their time. Women in particular need flexible work hours in order to meet the inflexible demands that marriage and a family place upon them, as traditional gender expectations stipulate that the woman be the primary caregiver.

Furthermore, gender shapes the particular variety of flexibility demanded. In advantaged occupations, both men and women are able to acquire the flexibility they so desire. However, they choose to use the control that this affords them in different manners. Women cut back on paid work hours and take leaves to handle domestic labor and child-care. In other words, they make job sacrifices.

Family Matters - 1st Edition

On the other hand, men are less likely to utilize family-friendly policies to make work sacrifices; they spend less at home and more time working. In essence, both men and women of class-advantaged occupations use the flexibility that their status provides them to "enact neotraditional gender expectations". Class-disadvantaged men and women do not have the same temporal flexibility that allows them to make decisions on how to allocate their time.

They face stricter constraints on their work hours and policies, thus making it impossible for them to choose whether to spend more time at work or more time at home. For example, even if a class-disadvantaged woman wanted to spend less time at work and more time with her children or in the home, she might not be able due to the inability to get time off from work or take a leave of absence. Thus, class-disadvantage makes it more difficult for both men and women to adhere to traditional gender expectations. The researchers showed that class advantage is used to "do gender" in traditional ways, while class disadvantage may lead to a violation of traditional gender expectations in a way that "undoes gender".

Research indicates that three principal factors predict how well men and women perceive their work-life balance in marriage: job characteristics, family characteristics, and spillover between work and family. As demonstrated by Gertsel and Clawson, higher-level occupations are generally more accommodating to family life than are lower level occupations Keene and Quadagno found a greater likelihood of perceived imbalance when work duties caused men or women to miss a family event or make it difficult to maintain their home Additional research by Keene and Quadagno suggests that the gender expectations that men should prioritize their work lives and women should prioritize their marriage and home life no longer exist.


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  8. One theoretical approach to explain this concept is the "gender similarity" approach, which "predicts that the convergence in men's and women's work and family demands should lead to a convergence in attitudes toward work and family responsibilities and feelings of work-family balance". Some research supports the convergence of men's and women's work experiences: both men and women make adjustments in their marriage and personal lives to meet their employer's expectations, while also making adjustments at work to maintain their marital and family obligations.

    However, the analysis from the abovementioned study supports the gender differences model. Gender differences exist in the division of household labor and chores, with men working more hours and women spending more time on domestic and child-care responsibilities. The divorce rate in western countries has generally increased over time. Divorce rates have however started to decrease over the last twenty years.

    In the US, divorce rate changed from l. Many scholars have attempted to explain why humans enter relationships, stay in relationships and end relationships. Levinger's , theory on divorce is based on a theoretical tradition consisting of three basic components: attractions, barriers and alternatives. All the things that can be seen as gains from the relationship such as love, sex, companionship, emotional support and daily assistance are the rewards of the relationship.

    The costs would the negative aspects of the relationship such as domestic violence , infidelity, quarrels and limitations on personal freedom. Generally people tend to stay in high rewards and low cost relationships. However, the reverse situation, that is, a costly marriage with few benefits does not automatically lead to divorce. Couples must overcome barriers such as religious beliefs, social stigma, and financial dependence or law restrictions before they successfully dissolve their marriage.

    Another theory to explain why relationships end is the "Mate ejection theory", by Brian Boutwell, J.