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Sociology Family
by
Lisa M. Warner, Brian Powell

Introduction

Family is among the most important social institutions—if not the most important. Sociologists recognize the centrality of families in providing their members with valuable resources, both economic and noneconomic, in creating and shaping self and collective identities, and in the rearing and socialization of children. There is no doubt that family relationships and processes affect individual well-being in profound ways. Families also interact with other social institutions and contribute to social stability and change. Sociologists—both those who self-identify as family sociologists and those who do not—have written extensively in these areas. They also have explored the precursors to and consequences of major demographic changes over time and place. In addition, they increasingly have moved away from a monolithic view of “the family” and instead recognize, and in many cases embrace, the diversity that exists in family forms.

Classic Works

These classic pieces typically view and discuss family in the traditional sense—a married man and woman with children—reflecting the eras in which they were written. Although contemporary sociologists are more apt to explore the diversity of family forms, these classic works remain influential. Burgess and Locke 1945 provides an early discussion of the changing nature of family relationships. Goode 1970 represents an enduring example of linking macro-level social changes to family life. Becker 1981 and Parsons and Bales 2007 rely on different theoretical frameworks, but both argue for a gendered division of labor, which remains a contested issue. Bernard 1982 continues to inspire scholars interested in the gendered nature of marriage and family.

  • Becker, Gary. 1981. A treatise on the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Becker applies economic theory to various aspects of family life. This book is best known for Becker’s advocacy of specialization in marriage, with husbands participating in the paid labor force and wives focusing on household activities.

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  • Bernard, Jessie. 1982. The future of marriage. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Bernard suggests that researchers’ understanding of marriage—and, by extension, family—requires the investigation of the experiences of both husbands and wives, which often vary. While much about marriage has changed since this book was first published, Bernard’s main argument remains an important and compelling one.

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  • Burgess, Ernest W., and Harvey J. Locke. 1945. The family: From institution to companionship. New York: American Book Company.

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    In this early family sociology text, Burgess and Locke discuss changes in family life over time. Among the changes they highlight is the increased prominence of intimacy in familial relationships. The third edition was published in 1963. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold).

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  • Goode, William. 1970. World revolution and family patterns. New York: Free Press.

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    Goode provides an impressively comprehensive overview of the extent to which industrialization and urbanization affect families similarly across the globe.

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  • Parsons, Talcott, and Robert Bales. 2007. Family, socialization and interaction process. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

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    Parsons and Bales view child socialization as a critical family function and among the most difficult challenges in family life. They advocate for a gender-specific—more specifically, male-breadwinner, female-homemaker—family structure that putatively offers the most effective way to meet this challenge. Their argument continues to be debated among sociologists. Originally published in 1956.

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Textbooks and General Overviews

A broad array of textbooks and edited volumes covering family sociology are widely used in college classrooms. Below we list a small sample of these texts. Of note, most recent texts emphasize the diversity among families, thereby reflecting the position that there is no longer one dominant form of family. Casper and Bianchi 2002 and Skolnick and Skolnick 2010 call attention to changes in family life that have occurred over time. Cherlin 2009a, a textbook, and Cherlin 2009b, a supplementary reader, offer overviews of both public and private family functions. The Ferguson 2010 anthology highlights differences across gender, racial/ethnic, and social class groups. Finally, Risman 2010, a reader that includes entries by members of the Council on Contemporary Families, addresses a number of family issues of public interest and importance.

Journals

Given family’s centrality to the field of sociology, research on family can be found in virtually all generalist and specialty journals in sociology and the social sciences. A number of journals, however, are devoted to family sociology or, more broadly, family studies. The Journal of Marriage and Family is the flagship journal of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). The NCFR also sponsors the publication of an applied journal, Family Relations, and a journal for relevant theoretical discussions, Journal of Family Theory and Review. Another leading journal is the Journal of Family Issues, which tends to be more interdisciplinary than others. The Journal of Comparative Family Studies publishes research on families from a cross-cultural perspective. Finally, the interdisciplinary journal Demography publishes current demographic information that is often useful to family sociologists interested in patterns of family formation.

Data Sources

Family sociologists and other sociologists incorporating families in their scholarship benefit from a variety of national and cross-national, panel and cross-sectional, datasets. The data sources listed below include information covering demographic trends, family structure, relationships, and child development, among other topics. The General Social Survey and the International Social Survey Programme are two datasets used by social scientists in many subfields. They provide survey data on a range of topics, including family issues. The US Census and the American Community Survey collects demographic information that may be used to identify national trends. Similarly, the National Survey of Family Growth tracks changes in Americans’ family formation and dissolution rates. The main goal of the National Survey of Families and Households is to investigate changes in the structure of individual families over time. The Panel Study of Income Dynamics collects data on the economic, health, and social behaviors of families over time. The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study explores the lives of children born to unmarried parents. The cross-national data set Generations and Gender Surveys includes information on European adults’ relationships. Finally, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health investigates the experiences of adolescents as they transition to adulthood.

History

The works listed below provide historical context for our understanding of continuity and especially changes in family structure, intimate relationships, and parenting. Popenoe 1988 laments these changes as evidence of a decline of the family, while Coontz 2000 views them from a more positive vantage point and argues that families have always been marked by diversity. Both Giddens 1992 and Coontz 2005 discuss the rise of the intimacy-based relationship as a modern phenomenon. Pavalko and Elder 1990 emphasizes the centrality of cohort and period in their account of the role World War II played in family stability and instability. Zelizer 1994 attributes the contemporary meaning and treatment of children in large part to changes brought about by industrialization. LaRossa, et al. 1991 discusses social changes that have affected our cultural understanding of fatherhood over time.

  • Coontz, Stephanie. 2000. The way we never were: American families and the nostalgia trap. New York: Basic Books.

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    Coontz argues that our nostalgia for the 1950s-era traditional family is unfounded. She suggests that family experiences during this period were not universally positive and instead were much more varied than suggested by others.

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  • Coontz, Stephanie. 2005. Marriage, a history: From obedience to intimacy, or how love conquered marriage. New York: Viking.

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    Coontz provides a long history of marriage to demonstrate that marrying for love is a recent development. She argues that this new approach to marriage has undermined the stability of marriages and is largely responsible for increases in the divorce rate.

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  • Giddens, Anthony. 1992. The transformation of intimacy: Sexuality, love, and eroticism in modern societies. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    The most notable contribution of this book is Giddens’s proposal of the “pure relationship.” He claims that relationships entered into and maintained because of mutual personal satisfaction have become the norm. He concludes that this will lead to greater gender equality.

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  • LaRossa, Ralph, Betty Anne Gordon, Ronald Jay Wilson, Annette Bairan, and Charles Jaret. 1991. The fluctuating image of the 20th century American father. Journal of Marriage and Family 53:987–997.

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    Using a content analysis of print cartoons, LaRossa and colleagues find that the dominant image of fatherhood has fluctuated across the 20th century. Generally, at times when gender egalitarianism is favored, fathers are portrayed as more competent than at other times.

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  • Pavalko, Eliza K., and Glen H. Elder, Jr. 1990. World War II and divorce: A life-course perspective. American Journal of Sociology 95:1213–1234.

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    The authors use a life-course perspective to explain the effect of World War II on the divorce rate. One of their most interesting findings is that the timing of marriage—whether before or during the war—affected soldiers’ likelihood of getting divorced.

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  • Popenoe, David. 1988. Disturbing the nest: Family change and decline in modern societies. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

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    Based on his definition of family as a group consisting of at least one adult and one dependent that fulfills important functions for society, Popenoe argues that the family is in decline. To support this claim, he points to families’ loss of social power, social functions, and influence over individuals’ behavior and opinions.

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  • Zelizer, Vivian. 1994. Pricing the priceless child: The changing social value of children. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    Zelizer traces our current view of childhood to changes due to industrialization. She argues that a shift away from agriculture meant that children were no longer economically useful. Instead, they came to be seen as sacred and emotionally priceless, though more financially costly than in previous eras.

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Definitions

With the increasing diversity in family forms and experiences, sociologists have begun to question longstanding definitions of “the family” or “family.” Murdock 1949 represents an early understanding of family that is now being contested. Smith 1993 challenges the longstanding reliance on traditional definitions that create a yardstick to which other families or living arrangement are compared. Gubrium and Holstein 1990 suggests abandoning structural and functional definitions of family and instead focusing on the meanings individuals attach to family. Bernardes 1999 questions the utility of implementing any definition of family. Weigel 2008 and Powell, et al. 2010 add to this discussion by exploring the ways laypeople define family and suggest that laypeople’s definitions are or are becoming more inclusive than implied by other scholarship.

  • Bernardes, Jon. 1999. We must not define “the family”! Marriage and Family Review 28:21–31.

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    Taking into consideration the absence of statistical evidence to support the existence of a dominant family form, Bernardes argues against any definition of family by social scientists. He cautions that the reliance on a privileged or idealized family form will reinforce stereotypes about families.

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  • Gubrium, Jaber F., and James A. Holstein. 1990. What is family? Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.

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    Gubrium and Holstein advance a social constructionist view of family in which families are defined by the meanings we attach to them rather than any objective conditions.

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  • Murdock, George P. 1949. Social structure. New York: Macmillan.

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    Murdock proposes an early definition of family based primarily on the functions families perform. His definition requires that families include adults of both sexes who share a common residence, economic cooperation, and reproduction. Reprinted 1969.

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  • Powell, Brian, Catherine Bolzendahl, Claudia Geist, and Lala Carr Steelman. 2010. Counted out: Same-sex relations and Americans’ definitions of family. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    The authors report findings from a national survey on Americans’ definitions of family, conducted in 2003 and 2006. They conclude that Americans’ understanding of family is becoming more inclusive. The authors report on the increasing recognition of cohabiting heterosexual and same-sex couples—especially those with children—as family.

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  • Smith, Dorothy E. 1993. The standard North American family: SNAF as an ideological code. Journal of Family Issues 14:50–65.

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    Smith argues that the standard North American family (SNAF)—characterized by the male-breadwinner, female-homemaker household with children—pervades our public and scholarly discourse on families. She critiques the use of this family form as the standard against which all other living arrangements are compared and are seen as “lesser” families, or not families at all.

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  • Weigel, Daniel J. 2008. The concept of family: An analysis of laypeople’s views of family. Journal of Family Issues 28:1426–1447.

    DOI: 10.1177/0192513X08318488Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this study of college students, Weigel finds that laypeople are more likely to describe families in terms of emotional bonds rather than structural features. He also presents evidence that the presence of children increases the likelihood of laypeople defining a group as a family.

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Marriage

These works on marriage patterns reflect the current interests of family sociologists in the importance of marriage for various subgroups and the likelihood that they will participate in marriage. Cherlin 2004 explains that marriage has become deinstitutionalized, but Cherlin 2009 also recognizes that it is still attractive to Americans because of its symbolic importance. Addressing a popular topic in public discourse on marriage, Lichter, et al. 2003 and Carlson, et al. 2004 discuss union formation and its consequences for disadvantaged families. Blossfeld 2009 provides a review of literature on the degree of educational homogamy in marriages across countries. Finally, Kalmijn and Van Tubergen 2010 discusses trends in intermarriage, and Qian and Lichter 2007 examines the social impact of intermarriage.

  • Blossfeld, Hans-Peter. 2009. Educational assortative marriage in comparative perspective. Annual Review of Sociology 35:513–530.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-070308-115913Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In his review of comparative research on educational homogamy in marriage, Blossfeld advocates for the use of a life course approach in understanding partner choice.

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  • Carlson, Marcia, Sara McLanahan, and Paula England. 2004. Union formation in fragile families. Demography 41:237–261.

    DOI: 10.1353/dem.2004.0012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors explore the implications of economic resources and attitudes regarding marriage for affective ties and relationships between unmarried parents raising a child.

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  • Cherlin, Andrew. 2004. The deinstitutionalization of American marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family 66:848–861.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00058.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Relying on trends in the United States, Canada, and Europe, Cherlin argues that the norms governing marriage have weakened over time and that marriage has become deinstitutionalized.

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  • Cherlin, Andrew. 2009. The marriage-go-round: The state of marriage. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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    Cherlin provides a historical account for the high rates of both marriage and divorce in the United States. He points to ostensibly competing cultural ideals—among them, the idealization of marriage and the belief in individualism—that are implicated in these high rates.

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  • Kalmijn, Matthijs, and Frank Van Tubergen. 2010. A comparative perspective on intermarriage: Explaining differences among national-origin groups in the United States. Demography 47:459–479.

    DOI: 10.1353/dem.0.0103Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kalmijn and Van Tubergen investigate the trends in intermarriage among ninety-four national-origin groups and find that structural and cultural factors both explain the differences in intermarriage among these groups.

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  • Lichter, Daniel T., Deborah Roempke Graefe, and J. Brian Brown. 2003. Is marriage a panacea? Union formation among economically disadvantaged unwed mothers. Social Problems 50:60–86.

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    In assessing current federal policies promoting marriage among disadvantaged unwed mothers, the authors examine the extent to which marriage is economically beneficial for this group. They find benefits from marriage, especially for women who marry men with resources and stay married, but they also indicate caveats to this finding.

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  • Qian, Zhenchao, and Daniel T. Lichter. 2007. Social boundaries and marital assimilation: Interpreting trends in racial and ethnic intermarriage. American Sociological Review 72:68–94.

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    Qian and Lichter describe recent trends in intermarriage among various racial and ethnic groups. They discuss the implications of intermarriage rates for breaking down barriers between these groups.

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Cohabitation

The unmistakable rise in the number of unmarried couples residing together has been accompanied by a notable increase in scholarly attention to cohabitation. Brines and Joyner 1999 represents an example of comparison studies of cohabiting and married couples. Bumpass, et al. 1991 also relates cohabitation to marriage by exploring the extent to which cohabitation rates offset the declining marriage rate. Manning and Smock 2005 discusses the meaning of cohabitation to those who experience it. Heuveline and Timberlake 2004 follows this lead by comparing multiple types of cohabitation across countries. Smock, et al. 2005 identifies reasons why cohabiting couples do not universally move toward marriage.

  • Brines, Julie, and Kara Joyner. 1999. The ties that bind: Principles of cohesion in cohabitation and marriage. American Sociological Review 64:333–355.

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    Brines and Joyner find modest support for the benefit of specialized division of household labor and employment among married couples, but find that cohabiting relationships are more stable if there is equality in employment and earnings.

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  • Bumpass, Larry L., James A. Sweet, and Andrew Cherlin. 1991. The role of cohabitation in declining rates of marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family 53:913–927.

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    With the rise in cohabitation, the authors caution against equating “unmarried” with “single.” They find that the number of people who may be considered “single” but are actually cohabiting largely offsets recent declines in marriage and remarriage.

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  • Heuveline, Patrick, and Jeffrey M. Timberlake. 2004. The role of cohabitation in family formation: The United States in comparative perspective. Journal of Marriage and Family 66:1214–1230.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00088.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Heuveline and Timberlake itemize six types of cohabitation and explore their prevalence in seventeen industrialized nations, including the United States. The authors conclude that cohabitation is more varied and consequently more difficult to characterize in the United States than in many other countries.

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  • Manning, Wendy D., and Pamela J. Smock. 2005. Measuring and modeling cohabitation: New perspectives from qualitative data. Journal of Marriage and Family 67:989–1002.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00189.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Manning and Smock use qualitative methods to explore the meaning of cohabitation for couples residing together but are unmarried. They find that couples often drift into and out of cohabiting relationships, and that cohabitation is generally viewed as an alternative to being single rather than an alternative to marriage.

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  • Smock, Pamela J., Wendy D. Manning, and Meredith Porter. 2005. “Everything’s there except money”: How money shapes decisions to marry among cohabitors. Journal of Marriage and Family 67:680–696.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00162.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors report that many cohabitors delay marriage because they are not financially stable. The authors conclude that for these cohabitors marriage conveys economic stability and achievement.

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Divorce and Remarriage

Amato 2000, Amato 2010, and Coleman, et al. 2000 review a range of central concerns regarding divorce and remarriage, including their causes and consequences. South and Lloyd 1995 is illustrative of research on the causes of divorce, in this case, the availability of spousal alternatives. White and Booth 1985 and Booth and Edwards 1992 explore factors associated with the stability of remarriages. Finally, Manning and Smock 2000 and DeWilde and Uunk 2008 discuss consequences of remarriage for children and women, respectively.

Parenthood

Literature on parenthood often focuses on the effects of parents on their progeny. Minton and Pasley 1996 and Sayer, et al. 2004 discuss factors related to parental involvement. Cheng and Powell 2007 and Hamilton, et al. 2007 explore differences across types of families in resources allocated to children. Crosnoe and Cavanagh 2010 discusses trends in the past decade’s research on families with children and adolescents. The effects can go in both directions, however. Logan and Spitze 1996, for example, emphasizes the mutually beneficial relationship that many adult children and their parents experience. Also mentioned below are Smock and Greenland 2010, a review of research on the diverse ways in which individuals become parents, and Rendall, et al. 2009 on the importance of family policy context for becoming a parent.

  • Cheng, Simon, and Brian Powell. 2007. Under and beyond constraints: Resource allocation to young children from biracial families. American Journal of Sociology 112:1044–1094.

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    Cheng and Powell compare the transmission of resources to young children by monoracial and biracial parents. Among their findings is that most types of biracial parents provide comparable or more economic and cultural resources to their children than do monoracial parents, but they provide fewer interactional or social resources.

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  • Crosnoe, Robert, and Shannon E. Cavanagh. 2010. Families with children and adolescents: A review, critique, and future agenda. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:594–611.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00720.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Crosnoe and Cavanagh discuss recent research on families with children and adolescents. They suggest that most research centers on implications for youth of family structures and family processes.

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  • Hamilton, Laura, Simon Cheng, and Brian Powell. 2007. Adoptive parents, adaptive parents: Evaluating the importance of biological ties for parental investment. American Sociological Review 72:95–116.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240707200105Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors test multiple theories of parental investment by comparing the resources adoptive and biological parents provide to their children. They find that adoptive parents invest more, though this is largely explained by differences in socioeconomic resources.

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  • Logan, John R., and Glenna Spitze. 1996. Family ties: Enduring relationships between parents and their grown children. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    Logan and Spitze examine the relationships between adult children and their parents. They challenge widely held beliefs about parent–child relationships in later life, including the belief that elderly parents receive more help from their adult children than they give.

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  • Minton, Carmelle, and Kay Pasley. 1996. Fathers’ parenting role identity and father involvement: A comparison of nondivorced and divorced, nonresident fathers. Journal of Family Issues 17:26–45.

    DOI: 10.1177/019251396017001003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Minton and Pasley explore the relationship between dimensions of a father identity and fathers’ involvement. They find that competence, satisfaction, and investment with the role of father are related positively to involvement. The relationship between competence and involvement is stronger for divorced fathers.

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  • Rendall, Michael S., Olivia Ekert-Jaffe, Heather Joshi, Kevin Lynch, and Remi Mougin. 2009. Universal versus economically polarizing change in age at first birth: A French-British comparison. Political and Development Review 35:89–115.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2009.00262.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors compare women’s age at first birth in France and Britain, two countries with very different family policy regimes. This study identifies occupation as an important correlate of age at first birth for British women, but not for French women.

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  • Sayer, Liana C., Anne H. Gauthier, and Frank F. Furstenberg Jr. 2004. Educational differences in parents’ time with children: Cross-national variations. Journal of Marriage and Family 66:1152–1169.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00084.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors find strong positive effects between parental education and time spent with children for women in several countries with varying levels of economic support for families. The connection between parental education and time spent with children is weaker for fathers.

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  • Smock, Pamela J., and Fiona Rose Greenland. 2010. Diversity in pathways to parenthood: Patterns, implications, and emerging research directions. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:576–593.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00719.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Smock and Greenland review recent research on the many ways in which individuals become parents. They discuss emerging trends in pathways to parenthood and highlight racial/ethnic and social class differences in these trends.

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Diversity

Recent explorations of family diversity have included discussions of new family forms as well as the family experiences of subgroups. Bengston 2001 emphasizes the growing importance of multigenerational family ties. Carlson and Furstenberg 2006 discusses the rise in multipartnered fertility. Rosenfeld 2007 explains the increase in same-sex and interracial union formation. Strohm, et al. 2009 describes a new phenomenon, “living apart together.” Subsections also present works on race/ethnicity and social class diversity in family life and research on stepfamilies and gay and lesbian families.

  • Bengston, Vern L. 2001. Beyond the nuclear family: The increasing importance of multigenerational bonds. Journal of Marriage and Family 63:1–16.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00001.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Bengston discusses multiple demographic trends in support of his thesis that multigenerational family relationships are becoming increasingly important to the stability of families. He suggests that these trends counter the notion that the American family is in decline.

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  • Carlson, Marcia J., and Frank F. Furstenberg Jr. 2006. The prevalence and correlates of multipartnered fertility among urban U.S. parents. Journal of Marriage and Family 68:718–732.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00285.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Carlson and Furstenberg examine factors associated with the increasing trend of “multipartnered fertility”—having children with more than one partner. The authors find that the likelihood of multipartnered fertility is affected by marital status, race/ethnicity, mother’s age at first birth, and father’s incarceration history.

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  • Rosenfeld, Michael. 2007. The age of independence: Interracial unions, same-sex unions, and the changing American family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Rosenfeld provides an innovative explanation for the rise in interracial and same-sex unions over time. He argues that especially after the 1960s, young adults began experiencing an independent life stage that allowed for geographic mobility and economic freedom that in turn facilitated the formation of these nontraditional unions.

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  • Strohm, Charles Q., Judith A. Seltzer, Susan D. Cochran, and Vickie M. Mays. 2009. “Living apart together” relationships in the United States. Demographic Research 21:177–214.

    DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2009.21.7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors discuss a phenomenon of “living apart together”—engaging in an intimate relationship but maintaining separate households—among heterosexual, lesbian, and gay couples. The authors find some evidence that these couples experience similar levels of emotional support as do couples in cohabiting relationships.

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Race and Ethnicity

Research on racial and ethnic diversity in family life focuses on differences both in demographic trends and individuals’ experiences. A classic piece, Stack 1974, details the formation of strong support networks among poor black families. Similarly, Sarkisian and Gerstel 2004 compares kin support among blacks and whites. South 1999 discusses racial and ethnic differences in rates of premarital childbearing over time. Batson, et al. 2006 explores variation in marriage patterns among US black populations. Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila 1997 describe the parenting challenges faced by recent Latino immigrants. Multiple reviews are also briefly described below: Furstenberg 2007 reviews qualitative research on black families; Burton, et al. 2010 reviews empirical and theoretical discussions on families of color; Glick 2010 reviews research on immigrant families; and Landale and Oropesa 2007 reviews research on Hispanic families in the United States.

  • Batson, Christie D., Zhenchao Qian, and Daniel T. Lichter. 2006. Interracial and intraracial patterns of mate selection among America’s diverse black populations. Journal of Marriage and Family 68:658–672.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00281.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors explore the marital and cohabiting patterns among multiple US black populations. They find that African Americans are more likely than other black groups to marry whites and other black ethnics.

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  • Burton, Linda M., Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Victor Ray, Rose Buckelew, and Elizabeth Hordge Freeman. 2010. Critical race theories, colorism, and the decade’s research on families of color. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:440–459.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00712.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors review the findings from the most prolific topics of research on families of color during the last ten years.

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  • Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr. 2007. The making of the black family: Race and class in qualitative studies in the twentieth century. Annual Review of Sociology 33:429–448.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.33.040406.131727Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Furstenberg discusses a wealth of qualitative research on black families across the 20th century. He argues that a shift occurred in the mid-1960s when the focus turned to low-income black families.

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  • Glick, Jennifer E. 2010. Connecting complex processes: A decade of research on immigrant families. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:498–515.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00715.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Glick reviews recent research on immigrant families, highlighting scholars’ use of assimilation and acculturation perspectives.

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  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette, and Ernestine Avila. 1997. ‘I’m here, but I’m there’: The meanings of Latina transnational motherhood. Gender and Society 11:548–571.

    DOI: 10.1177/089124397011005003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila describe the lives of Latina immigrants working as nannies and housekeepers in the United States while their children continue to live in their home countries. The authors conclude that these women redefine their role as mothers, and in doing so, they create a new “transnational” motherhood.

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  • Landale, Nancy S., and R. S. Oropesa. 2007. Hispanic families: Stability and change. Annual Review of Sociology 33:381–405.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.33.040406.131655Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Landale and Oropesa provide a review of research on Hispanic families in the United States. The primary emphasis of the review is demographic trends, including marriage and fertility rates.

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  • Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. 2004. Kin support among blacks and whites: Race and family organization. American Sociological Review 69:812–837.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sarkisian and Gerstel examine race differences in providing financial, emotional, and other types of support to family members. They stress gender and social class variation.

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  • South, Scott J. 1999. Historical changes and life course variation in the determinants of premarital childbearing. Journal of Marriage and Family 61:752–763.

    DOI: 10.2307/353575Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    South provides an overview of changes in the factors associated with premarital childbirth. Among the changes are a convergence in rates between black and white women and a divergence in rates between Latina and non-Latina women, with Latina women’s rate being higher.

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  • Stack, Carol B. 1974. All our kin. New York: Harper & Row.

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    Stack’s detailed ethnography describes life in an African American ghetto community. Challenging the notion that poor families are dysfunctional, Stack highlights the strong kinship networks formed between black friends and family members living in poverty. Frequently reprinted.

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Social Class

Research on class-based variation in family life explores the ways that structural opportunities and constraints shape family formation and processes. Two exemplary books on these topics are described below: Lareau 2003 uses ethnographic data to establish social class differences in childrearing approaches, and Edin and Kefalas 2007 investigates the reasons for low marriage rates among low-income mothers. In addition, McLanahan and Percheski 2008 discusses mechanisms by which growing income inequality perpetuates social class differences. Small and Newman 2001 includes a discussion of changes in family structure that are related to urban poverty. Edin and Kissane 2010 reviews other important lines of research on this topic.

  • Edin, Kathryn, and Maria Kefalas. 2007. Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Edin and Kefalas’s ethnographic data reveal that poor single mothers highly value marriage and hope to marry someday. Nevertheless, these women report that the men in their lives are financially unstable, involved in criminal activity, and abusive, and, as result of these experiences, these women would rather remain single than marry the wrong person and face divorce.

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  • Edin, Kathryn, and Rebecca Joyce Kissane. 2010. Poverty and the American family: A decade in review. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:460–479.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00713.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Edin and Kissane review research from the past decade on poverty and family life. Included in this article are discussions of the causes and consequences of poverty and changes in welfare policies.

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  • Lareau, Annette. 2003. Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Lareau identifies social class differences in childrearing and contrasts the middle-class approach of “concerted cultivation” with the poor- and working-class approach of the “accomplishment of natural growth.” Her detailed ethnography of families reveals advantages and disadvantages to both parenting styles.

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  • McLanahan, Sara, and Christine Percheski. 2008. Family structure and the reproduction of inequalities. Annual Review of Sociology 34:257–276.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134549Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    McLanahan and Percheski review the research on the relationship between socioeconomic status and family structure. They argue that increasing income inequality may lead to increases in single motherhood that in turn further reproduce social class, race, and gender inequalities.

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  • Small, Mario Luis, and Katherine Newman. 2001. Urban poverty after The truly disadvantaged: The rediscovery of the family, the neighborhood, and culture. Annual Review of Sociology 27:23–45.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.23Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Small and Newman examine scholarship on urban poverty that has been published since William Julius Wilson’s book The Truly Disadvantaged (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987). This review pays some attention to changes in family structure that are concentrated among the urban poor.

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Stepfamilies

Reviews in Cherlin and Furstenberg 1994 and Sweeney 2010 highlight the major areas of research on stepfamilies. Stewart 2005 contributes to this discussion by examining the challenges faced by stepfamilies as a result of boundary ambiguity.

  • Cherlin, Andrew J., and Frank F. Furstenberg Jr. 1994. Stepfamilies in the United States: A reconsideration. Annual Review of Sociology 20:359–381.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.20.080194.002043Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Cherlin and Furstenberg provide a comprehensive review of issues related to stepfamilies and remarriage. They discuss demographic trends, implications for kinship, consequences for children, and the risk of divorce among remarried couples.

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  • Stewart, Susan D. 2005. Boundary ambiguity in stepfamilies. Journal of Family Issues 26:1002–1029.

    DOI: 10.1177/0192513X04273591Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Stewart examines the prevalence and consequences of boundary ambiguity in stepfamilies. Families are considered to have ambiguous boundaries if partners disagree on which children belong in their family. Stewart finds connections between boundary ambiguity and relationship quality and stability, but only for women.

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  • Sweeney, Megan M. 2010. Remarriage and stepfamilies: Strategic sites for family scholarship in the 21st century. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:667–684.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00724.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sweeney reviews literature on remarriage and stepfamilies published during the past decade and highlights the diversity in structures and processes among stepfamilies.

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Gay and Lesbian Families

Research on gay and lesbians families covers a diverse set of topics, including family formation, parenting, and the division of household labor. Allen and Demo 1995 and Stacey and Biblarz 2001 provide reviews of research on gay and lesbian families, along with recommendations for future research. Biblarz and Stacey 2010 compares different family forms and finds evidence that the number of parents rather than the gender of the parents is critical to the well-being of children. Berkowitz and Marsiglio 2007 explores the development of procreative identities among gay men. Dunne 2000 discusses implications for gender norms of lesbian motherhood, while Goldberg and Sayer 2006 examines lesbians’ well-being during the transition to parenthood. Moore 2008 presents findings from a study of the division of household labor among lesbian couples, making implicit comparisons to heterosexual couples. Finally, Weston 1997 discusses the trend of gay and lesbian couples creating new kinship bonds with friends in the absence of supportive biological families. Smart 2007 discusses the same-sex couples’ negotiation of relationships with their families when planning marriage and commitment ceremonies.

  • Allen, Katherine R., and David H. Demo. 1995. The families of lesbians and gay men: A new frontier in family research. Journal of Marriage and Family 57:111–127.

    DOI: 10.2307/353821Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Allen and Demo call for greater inclusion of family types, including those headed by lesbians and gay men, in family research. They also recommend a greater emphasis on individuals’ experiences within families, rather than focusing on problems associated with various family forms.

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  • Berkowitz, Dana, and William Marsiglio. 2007. Gay men: Negotiating procreative, father, and family identities. Journal of Marriage and Family 69:366–381.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00371.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Berkowitz and Marsiglio explore gay men’s development of procreative identities. They discuss the effects of the life course, structural opportunities and constraints, and relationships.

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  • Biblarz, Timothy J., and Judith Stacey. 2010. How does the gender of parents matter? Journal of Marriage and Family 72:3–22.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00678.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Biblarz and Stacey explore gender differences in parenting by comparing two-parent families with same or different sex co-parents, as well as single-mother and single-father families. The authors find positive effects for children in having two parents in the home, regardless of their gender.

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  • Dunne, Gillian A. 2000. Opting into motherhood: Lesbians blurring the boundaries and transforming the meaning of parenthood and kinship. Gender and Society 14:11–35.

    DOI: 10.1177/089124300014001003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Dunne discusses the experiences of lesbian couples who become parents using donor insemination. Dunne argues that, through these experiences, lesbians are challenging established family norms that favor heterosexual relationships and traditional gender roles.

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  • Goldberg, Abbie E., and Aline Sayer. 2006. Lesbian couples’ relationship quality across the transition to parenthood. Journal of Marriage and Family 68:87–100.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00235.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Past research has established the transition to parenthood as a stressful time for most heterosexual couples. Goldberg and Sayer contribute to this line of research by examining the transition to parenthood among lesbian couples and identifying determinants of changes in relationship quality during the transition.

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  • Moore, Mignon. 2008. Gendered power relations among women: A study of household decision making in black, lesbian stepfamilies. American Sociological Review 73:335–356.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240807300208Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Moore explores the connections between the division of labor and power among black lesbian couples with children. Her analyses indicate that biological mothers tend to do more housework, but do not suffer a corresponding decrease in power that typically is experienced by mothers in heterosexual relationships.

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  • Smart, Carol. 2007. Same sex couples and marriage: Negotiating relational landscapes with families and friends. Sociological Review 55:671–686.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2007.00747.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Smart uses qualitative data to explore the meanings same-sex couples in the United Kingdom attach to relationships with given and chosen family members when planning their marriage and commitment ceremonies.

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  • Stacey, Judith, and Timothy J. Biblarz. 2001. (How) does the sexual orientation of parents matter? American Sociological Review 66:159–183.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657413Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Stacey and Biblarz review existing literature on gay and lesbian parenting and find some evidence that children from same-sex families have different experiences than their counterparts from heterosexual families. Stacey and Biblarz contend that differences should not be equated with disadvantage.

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  • Weston, Kath. 1997. Families we choose: Lesbians, gays, kinship. Rev. ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Weston documents how, in the absence of support from their biological families, gays and lesbians are creating or “choosing” their own families based on emotional connections. She compares experiences with biological and chosen families.

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Well-Being

Many aspects of family life have been implicated in individuals’ well-being. The first three subsections below outline research on the effects of marriage, divorce, and parenthood on adults. The following two subsections provide an overview of research on consequences for children of divorce, family structure, poverty, and siblings. The publications presented below explore multiple types of well-being, including physical, mental, and financial.

Marriage’s Effects on Adults

Much scholarly attention has been paid to the effects of marriage and marital loss on individuals’ well-being. Some scholars explore similarities and differences in transitions into and out of marriage, while others also consider gender differences in these experiences. Hughes and Waite 2009 argues that both marriage and marital loss matter for well-being. Nock 1998 discusses the role of masculinity in explaining the positive relationship between marriage and well-being for men. In contrast, Liu and Umberson 2008 finds that women may now experience greater benefits from marriage than men do. In her examination of depression and alcohol abuse during marital transitions, Simon 2002 demonstrates that both men and women suffer from marital loss. Umberson, et al. 2009 also finds that marital loss has adverse effects on body weight. Meadows 2009 contributes to this discussion by examining the physical and mental health of men with different relationship statuses, including cohabiting men. Jackson 2004 suggests that marital status alone may not be as important for mental health as the sequence in which adults enter adult roles, including spouse, worker, and parent. Finally, Sarkisian and Gerstel 2008 investigates the relationships between married adult children and their parents, and they argue that marriage may have unintended negative consequences for social ties.

  • Hughes, Mary Elizabeth, and Linda J. Waite. 2009. Marital biography and health at mid-life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 50:344–358.

    DOI: 10.1177/002214650905000307Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hughes and Waite find that the benefits and damages to health that are associated with marriage and divorce are long-lasting. They discuss the importance of duration in a current marital state and transitions into and out of marital states.

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  • Jackson, Pamela Braboy. 2004. Role sequencing: Does order matter for mental health? Journal of Health and Social Behavior 45:132–154.

    DOI: 10.1177/002214650404500202Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critiquing social psychological scholarship on role sequencing, Jackson finds race differences in the mental health effects of role sequencing. Although white women’s mental health is better if they follow the cultural prescribed sequence of work, marriage and then parenthood, African American men and women experience mental health benefits by following a work–parenthood–marriage sequence.

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  • Liu, Hui, and Debra Umberson. 2008. The times they are a changin’: Marital status and health differentials from 1972 to 2003. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 49:239–253.

    DOI: 10.1177/002214650804900301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Liu and Umberson compare the health effects of marital status during different decades. Their findings indicate that, in contrast to earlier periods of time in which married women may have experienced a mental health disadvantage, women currently experience more health protection from marriage than men do.

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  • Meadows, Sarah O. 2009. Family structure and fathers’ well-being: Trajectories of mental health and self-rated health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 50:115–131.

    DOI: 10.1177/002214650905000201Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Meadows investigates the physical and mental health of fathers who are single, married, and cohabiting across a five-year period. Her analysis incorporates measures of relationship stability and transitions.

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  • Nock, Steven. 1998. Marriage in men’s lives. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Nock argues that married men experience psychological and physical health benefits because marriage allows men to achieve and maintain masculinity—more specifically, from being a father, as well as providing for and protecting one’s family.

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  • Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. 2008. Till marriage do us part: Adult children’s relationships with their parents. Journal of Marriage and Family 70:360–376.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00487.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sarkisian and Gerstel find that married people have weaker ties to their parents than unmarried people do. They argue that this may be an unintended negative consequence of marriage that is often overlooked owing to researchers’ focus on the positive aspects of marriage.

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  • Simon, Robin W. 2002. Revisiting the relationship among gender, marital status, and mental health. American Journal of Sociology 107:1065–1096.

    DOI: 10.1086/339225Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    By focusing on both depression and alcohol abuse as measures of health, Simon finds that both men and women experience negative health effects from marital loss. She argues that both genders benefit emotionally from being married and are harmed by marital dissolution, although the harm is usually seen in alcohol abuse for men and depression for women.

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  • Umberson, Debra, Hui Liu, and Daniel Powers. 2009. Marital status, marital transitions, and body weight. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 50:327–343.

    DOI: 10.1177/002214650905000306Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors explore the relationship between marital status and body weight. They find support for the crisis model, which posits that health differences between married and unmarried persons are largely due to damage caused by marital dissolution.

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Divorce’s Effects on Adults

Along with research on the negative health effects of divorce, sociologists have investigated the economic consequences of divorce. Smock, et al. 1999 is illustrative of the conclusions from this line of research, as they argue that divorced women are especially disadvantaged. As a counterpoint, McManus and DiPrete 2001 finds that the majority of men also experience economic decline following divorce.

  • McManus, Patricia A., and Thomas A. DiPrete. 2001. Losers and winners: The financial consequences of separation and divorce for men. American Sociological Review 66:246–268.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657417Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    McManus and DiPrete challenge past research that argues only women experience a loss in economic well-being after divorce. The authors find that the majority of men also see a decline, with only men who earn more than 80 percent of the pre-divorce household income seeing an improvement in income.

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  • Smock, Pamela J., Wendy D. Manning, and Sanjiv Gupta. 1999. The effect of marriage and divorce on women’s economic well-being. American Sociological Review 64:794–812.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657403Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors argue that divorced women would be only slightly better off financially if they had remained married, but not as well off as currently married women. They conclude that divorced women are disadvantaged even before they get divorced.

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Parenthood’s Effects on Adults

Family sociologists explore multiple dimensions of parenthood’s effects on parents. Cowan and Cowan 1999 and Cast 2004 provide examples of studies on the effects of the transition to parenthood on both individual and marital well-being. Nomaguchi and Milkie 2003 and Evenson and Simon 2005 investigate the relationship between parent status and psychological well-being. Eggebeen and Knoester 2001 suggests that the mental health of men is not affected by parenthood, although there are other consequences for men. Munch, et al. 1997 also moves beyond the discussion of mental health effects of parenthood and explore the relationship between parenthood and social networks. Hays 1996 discusses the challenges that mothers face as a result of cultural expectations about motherhood. Finally, Umberson, et al. 2010 reviews research on the effects of parenthood and childlessness across the adult life course.

  • Cast, Alicia D. 2004. Well-being and the transition to parenthood: An identity theory approach. Sociological Perspectives 47:55–78.

    DOI: 10.1525/sop.2004.47.1.55Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Cast uses the concept of identity verification from identity theory to examine individual and marital well-being during the transition to parenthood. She finds that parents who lack opportunities to verify their new parent identity are more likely to experience a decline in well-being.

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  • Cowan, Carolyn, and Philip Cowan. 1999. When partners become parents: The big life change for couples. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    Cowan and Cowan investigate the transition to parenthood among married couples. They find that individual and marital satisfaction after the baby is born can be predicted by the well-being of the individual and relationship before the baby is born.

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  • Eggebeen, David J., and Chris Knoester. 2001. Does fatherhood matter for men? Journal of Marriage and Family 63:381–393.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00381.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Eggebeen and Knoester establish multiple ways in which fatherhood matters for men. While they do not find effects of fatherhood on men’s mental health, they do uncover connections between fatherhood and social and family relationships and work behavior. Men with coresidential children experience stronger effects of fatherhood than others.

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  • Evenson, Ranae J., and Robin W. Simon. 2005. Clarifying the relationship between parenthood and depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 46:341–358.

    DOI: 10.1177/002214650504600403Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Evenson and Simon compare different stages of parenting to determine which are most associated with increased chances of depression. Among their findings is that having minor children in the home is less distressing than having nonresidential adult children.

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  • Hays, Sharon. 1996. The cultural contradictions of motherhood. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Hays uses a multimethod approach to investigate the prevailing ideology about motherhood, which she calls “intensive mothering.” She discusses the challenges women face when balancing this time-, energy-, and money-consuming parenting style with paid work, which often encourages self-interest.

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  • Munch, Allison, J. Miller McPherson, and Lynn Smith-Lovin. 1997. Gender, children, and social contact: The effects of childrearing for men and women. American Sociological Review 62:509–520.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657423Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors explore the effect of children on men and women’s social networks. They find gender differences in mothers’ and fathers’ network size, composition, and contact volume. This finding supports the idea that childrearing places men and women into different social worlds.

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  • Nomaguchi, Kei M., and Melissa A. Milkie. 2003. Costs and rewards of children: The effects of becoming a parent on adults’ lives. Journal of Marriage and Family 65:356–374.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00356.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Nomaguchi and Milkie use longitudinal data to determine the effects of parenthood on adults’ psychological well-being. They argue that parenthood is both beneficial and harmful to well-being, although the effects of parenthood vary by gender and marital status.

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  • Umberson, Debra, Tetyana Pudrovska, and Corinne Reczek. 2010. Parenthood, childlessness, and well-being: A life course perspective. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:612–629.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00721.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this review, the authors use a life course perspective to discuss the effects of parenthood and childlessness on well-being throughout adults’ lives.

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Divorce, Family Structure, Poverty, and Children

Research in this area considers the effects of divorce, family structure, and poverty on children. Cherlin, et al. 1998 explores the effects of divorce on children’s mental health during their adult years. Amato, et al. 1995 argues that pre-divorce conflict accounts for the variation in the effects of divorce on children. Furstenberg and Cherlin 1995 claims that children’s responses to divorce are also influenced by their parents’ post-divorce adjustment. McLanahan and Sandefur 1996 investigates the risks for children that are associated with being raised in a single-parent home. Amato and Gilbreth 1999 suggests that these risks may be mitigated by positive contributions of nonresident fathers. With regard to the effects of poverty on children, McLeod and Shanahan 1993 discusses consequences for children’s mental health, and Burton 2007 claims that poverty has implications for children’s development.

  • Amato, Paul R., and Joan G. Gilbreth. 1999. Nonresident fathers and children’s well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and Family 61:557–573.

    DOI: 10.2307/353560Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Amato and Gilbreth find that nonresident fathers contribute positively to their children’s well-being by establishing emotional closeness and using an authoritative parenting style during visits.

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  • Amato, Paul R., Laura Spencer Loomis, and Alan Booth. 1995. Parental divorce, marital conflict, and offspring well-being during early adulthood. Social Forces 73:895–915.

    DOI: 10.2307/2580551Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors establish a connection between pre-divorce conflict and the effects of divorce on children. They argue that divorce may be beneficial or detrimental, depending on the conflict present in the home before the divorce.

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  • Burton, Linda. 2007. Childhood adultification in economically disadvantaged families: A conceptual model. Family Relations 56:329–345.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2007.00463.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Burton uses ethnographic data to describe the processes by which children in low-income families are often exposed to adult knowledge and shoulder adult responsibilities. She discusses multiple levels of adultification and the consequences that adultification has for children.

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  • Cherlin, Andrew J., P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, and Christine McRae. 1998. Effects of parental divorce on mental health throughout the life course. American Sociological Review 63:239–249.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657325Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors investigate the mental health consequences of experiencing a parental divorce by the age of thirty-three and conclude that part of the negative effect of divorce can be attributed to marital problems that precede divorce.

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  • Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr., and Andrew Cherlin. 1995. Divided families: What happens to children when parents part. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Furstenberg and Cherlin discuss factors that account for variation in children’s responses to parental divorce. They find that children adjust better when their custodial parents adjust well and when conflict between parents subsides.

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  • McLanahan, Sarah, and Gary Sandefur. 1996. Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    McLanahan and Sandefur explain that lower income, parental involvement and community embeddedness put children being raised by single parents at an increased risk of dropping out of high school, experiencing teen pregnancy, and being “idle.”

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  • McLeod, Jane D., and Michael J. Shanahan. 1993. Poverty, parenting, and children’s mental health. American Sociological Review 58:351–366.

    DOI: 10.2307/2095905Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    McLeod and Shanahan investigate the extent to which parenting accounts for the negative relationship between poverty and children’s mental health. They find that parenting explains the link between current poverty and children’s mental health, but not the link between persistent poverty and children’s mental health.

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Effect of Siblings on Children

A considerable literature has examined relationships among family members. The publications discussed here focus on one of these relationships—among siblings. Steelman, et al. 2002 provides a review of research on various issues related to having siblings. Conley 2005 discusses factors contributing to inequality that exists between siblings. Downey 1995 and Shavit and Pierce 1991 investigate the effects of siblings on educational outcomes. Downey and Condron 2004 and Pollet and Nettle 2009 find relationships between having siblings and social skills and interactions. Other issues represented by these works are consequences for mental health, discussed by Lawson and Mace 2010, and social attitudes, examined by Freese, et al. 1999. Suitor, et al. 2009 also contributes to this research by exploring the effects of perceived maternal favoritism on sibling relationships in midlife.

  • Conley, Dalton. 2005. The pecking order: A bold new look at how family and society determine who we become. New York: Vintage.

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    Conley elaborates on the ways that family configuration affects individual outcomes. He emphasizes the extent to which there is variation between siblings, particularly those coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

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  • Downey, Douglas B. 1995. When bigger is not better: Family size, parental resources, and children’s educational performance. American Sociological Review 60:746–761.

    DOI: 10.2307/2096320Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Downey finds that parental resources explain the inverse relationship between the number of siblings a child has and her or his educational performance.

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  • Downey, Douglas B., and Dennis J. Condron. 2004. Playing well with others in kindergarten: The benefit of siblings at home. Journal of Marriage and Family 66:333–350.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2004.00024.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Although many analyses emphasize the negative effects, Downey and Condron identify a positive consequence—having better social skills—of having siblings.

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  • Freese, Jeremy, Brian Powell, and Lala Carr Steelman. 1999. Rebel without a cause or effect: Birth order and social attitudes. American Sociological Review 64:207–231.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657528Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Challenging a popular assumption, the authors find that firstborn children are not more conservative than later-borns in their attitudes on a range of social issues.

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  • Lawson, David W., and Ruth Mace. 2010. Siblings and childhood mental health: Evidence for a later-born advantage. Social Science and Medicine 70:2061–2069.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.03.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lawson and Mace examine the relationship between having siblings and mental health. They find positive mental health effects of having older siblings, but having younger siblings is negatively related to mental health.

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  • Pollet, Thomas V., and Daniel Nettle. 2009. Birth order and adult family relationships: Firstborns have better sibling relationships than laterborns. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 26:1029–1046.

    DOI: 10.1177/0265407509347940Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Pollet and Nettle discuss the connections between birth order and family relationships during adulthood. Among their findings is that, contrary to popular belief, middleborn children are not neglected in terms of relationships with their parents, siblings, or friends.

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  • Shavit, Yossi, and Jennifer L. Pierce. 1991. Sibship size and educational attainment in nuclear and extended families: Arabs and Jews in Israel. American Sociological Review 56:321–330.

    DOI: 10.2307/2096107Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shavit and Pierce study the relationship between number of siblings and educational attainment among Jews and Arabs in Israel. They attribute differences between these groups to differences in the degree to which they rely on extended family support.

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  • Steelman, Lala Carr, Brian Powell, Regina Werum, and Scott Carter. 2002. Reconsidering the effects of sibling configuration: Recent advances and challenges. Annual Review of Sociology 28:243–269.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.28.111301.093304Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors review research on a range of topics related to family configuration, including the effects of birth order, sex composition of children, and the number and spacing of siblings. In discussing patterns from other countries, the authors advocate greater attention to the influence of social and cultural context on sibling effects.

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  • Suitor, J. Jill, Jori Sechrist, Mari Plikuhn, Seth T. Pardo, Megan Gilligan, and Karl Pillemer. 2009. The role of perceived maternal favoritism in sibling relations in midlife. Journal of Marriage and Family 71:1026–1038.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00650.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors discuss the implications of perceived maternal favoritism for relationship quality among siblings during midlife. They find that, regardless of actual maternal favoritism, perceptions of current and childhood favoritism affected siblings’ relationships.

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Work

The scholarly writings described below represent the range of research topics on the intersection of work and family. The first subsection discusses examples of research on work-family conflict. Next is a review of literature on government and workplace family policies. The last subsection outlines important scholarship on the division of household labor.

Work–Family Conflict

Jacobs and Gerson 2004 extensively discusses the multiple reasons for work-family conflict in the United States. Focusing on mothers, Stone 2008 assesses the reasons that women exit the paid labor force when they have children. Bielby and Bielby 1992 and Becker and Moen 1999 discuss gender differences in individuals’ responses to work–family conflict. Gerson 2009 investigates the effects of growing up after the women’s movement on work and family conflicts. Budig and England 2001 identifies a wage penalty for mothers, and Correll, et al. 2007 offers explanations for this wage penalty. Pavalko, et al. 2007 examines the health effects of paid and unpaid work across four cohorts of women. Bianchi and Milkie 2010 discusses the focal topics of recent work-family scholarship.

  • Becker, Penny Edgell, and Phyllis Moen. 1999. Scaling back: Dual-earner couples’ work-family strategies. Journal of Marriage and Family 61:995–1007.

    DOI: 10.2307/354019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Becker and Moen study the strategies dual-earner couples use to balance work and family demands. They find that typically one spouse “scales back,” or places limits on her or his work. These strategies typically result in and reinforce in traditional gender arrangements.

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  • Bianchi, Suzanne M., and Melissa A. Milkie. 2010. Work and family research in the first decade of the 21st century. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:705–725.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00726.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Bianchi and Milkie review research on work and family published between 2000 and 2010 and introduce suggestions for future directions in this line of inquiry.

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  • Bielby, William T., and Denise D. Bielby. 1992. I will follow him: Family ties, gender-role beliefs, and reluctance to relocate for a better job. American Journal of Sociology 97:1241–1267.

    DOI: 10.1086/229901Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Bielby and Bielby note greater reluctance to relocate for a better job among women than among men and attribute this gender difference to family considerations and gender beliefs.

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  • Budig, Michelle J., and Paula England. 2001. The wage penalty for motherhood. American Sociological Review 66:204–225.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657415Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Budig and England explore wage differences between mothers and other workers. After controlling for job experience and job characteristics, the authors find that a 4 percent wage penalty per child remains. Lower productivity and discrimination by employers are suggested as factors that could contribute to this penalty.

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  • Correll, Shelley J., Stephen Benard, and In Paik. 2007. Getting a job: Is there a motherhood penalty? American Journal of Sociology 112:1297–1338.

    DOI: 10.1086/511799Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors use a laboratory experiment and an audit study to identify mechanisms by which mothers experience wage penalties in the workplace. They find that mothers are penalized for multiple reasons, including their perceived competence. On the other hand, fathers sometimes benefit from their status as parents.

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  • Gerson, Kathleen. 2009. The unfinished revolution: How a new generation is reshaping family, work, and gender in America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Gerson presents findings from her life history interviews with adults born after the women’s movement, whom she calls “children of the gender revolution.” She explores the connections between her respondents’ childhood family experiences and their ideas about balancing work and family as adults.

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  • Jacobs, Jerry A., and Kathleen Gerson. 2004. The time divide: Work, family, and gender inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Jacobs and Gerson examine the extent to which changes in the organization of work contributes to work–family conflict. They pinpoint an occupational divide, in which some Americans are overworked while others are underemployed. The authors consider the implications of this divide for parenting and gender relations, among others.

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  • Pavalko, Eliza, Fang Gong, and J. Scott Long. 2007. Women’s work, cohort change, and health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 48:352–368.

    DOI: 10.1177/002214650704800402Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors examine the health effects of paid and unpaid work for four cohorts of women between the ages of 44 and 50. They discuss cohort differences in relation to changes in women’s labor force participation over time.

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  • Stone, Pamela. 2008. Opting out? Why women really quit careers and head home. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Stone argues against the belief that women leave the paid labor force after becoming mothers because of traditional ideals. She finds that many women attempt unsuccessfully to combine work and family before returning to the home. Stone discusses the conflicting pushes of work and the pulls of family that women face.

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Policy

Glass 2004 explores the relationship between mothers’ use of work–family policies and wage growth. Misra, et al. 2007 uses a comparative lens to examine the relationship between work–family policies and national poverty rates. Bolzendahl and Olafsdottir 2008 also uses a comparative perspective to investigate factors contributing to individuals’ support for family policy. Bogenschneider and Corbett 2010 reviews recent literature on family policy.

  • Bogenschneider, Karen, and Thomas Corbett. 2010. Family policy: Becoming a field of inquiry and subfield of social policy. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:783–803.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00730.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Bogenschneider and Corbett review recent research on family policy and discuss the representation of family policy in policymaking, public discourse, and social science scholarship.

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  • Bolzendahl, Catherine, and Sigrun Olafsdottir. 2008. Gender group interest or gender ideology? Understanding U.S. support for family policy within the liberal welfare regime. Sociological Perspectives 51:281–304.

    DOI: 10.1525/sop.2008.51.2.281Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Bolzendahl and Olafsdottir compare levels and sources of family policy support in the United States with other countries in the liberal welfare regime. They highlight gender differences.

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  • Glass, Jennifer. 2004. Blessing or curse? Work-family policies and mother’s wage growth over time. Work and Occupations 31:367–394.

    DOI: 10.1177/0730888404266364Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Glass uses longitudinal data to explore the relationship between work–family policy use and wage growth for working mothers. She finds that mothers who use policies like flexible scheduling and childcare assistance experience less wage growth over time than other mothers do.

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  • Misra, Joya, Stephanie Moller, and Michelle J. Budig. 2007. Work-family policies and poverty for partnered and single women in Europe and North America. Gender and Society 21:804–827.

    DOI: 10.1177/0891243207308445Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This study investigates the relationship between specific work–family policies and the poverty rate in several European countries and the United States. The authors find that the provision of family benefits and childcare provide more protection from poverty than parental leave policies do.

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Division of Household Labor

A major focus of literature on the division of household labor is the gender difference in hours spent doing housework and childcare in married-couple households. Hochschild and Machung 2003 provides an overview of strategies couples use to negotiate the housework and childcare duties. Gershuny, et al. 2005 explores changes in couples’ division of labor in response to employment changes. Bianchi, et al. 2006 examines changes over time in the hours mothers and fathers spend doing childcare. Most research in this area finds that women still shoulder more of the housework and childcare burden than men do, but Coltrane 1996 examines the factors associated with egalitarian arrangements. Similarly, Bittman, et al. 2003 finds that variation in the division of household labor is partially attributable to individuals’ share of the household income. DeMaris and Longmore 1996 investigates factors associated with perceived fairness in the division of household labor. Scholars have also begun to explore the division of household labor in unmarried-couple households. South and Spitze 1994 compares the division of labor across multiple types of households. Also mentioned below are publications that examine the relationship between macro structures and the division of housework in a cross-national perspective (Fuwa 2004, Treas and Drobnič 2010).

  • Bianchi, Suzanne M., John P. Robinson, and Melissa A. Milkie. 2006. Changing rhythms of American family life. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book offers a comprehensive examination of the time that Americans spend at home and elsewhere. The authors effectively counter the widespread notion that parents must be spending less time with their children now that women are working in the paid labor force. By reducing time spent in other areas (e.g., leisure time), both mothers and fathers are able to spend more time with their children than in the past.

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  • Bittman, Michael, Paula England, Nancy Folbre, Liana Salyer, and George Matheson. 2003. When does gender trump money? Bargaining and time in household work. American Journal of Sociology 109:186–214.

    DOI: 10.1086/378341Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors examine the relationship between income and the division of household labor. They find that women tend to decrease their contribution to housework as their earnings increase. This pattern, however, reverses at a certain threshold: if women contribute more to the household income than their spouses, they compensate for this deviation from traditional gender roles by doing more housework.

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  • Coltrane, Scott. 1996. Family man: Fatherhood, housework, and gender equity. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Coltrane provides a historical account of men’s and women’s roles in the family and discusses the factors associated with sharing the housework for both white and Chicano families. Coltrane predicts that egalitarian arrangements will continue to increase in the future.

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  • DeMaris, Alfred, and Monica A. Longmore. 1996. Ideology, power, and equity: Testing competing explanations for the perception of fairness in household labor. Social Forces 74:1043–1071.

    DOI: 10.2307/2580392Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rather than exploring the determinants of equality in the division of household labor, these authors are interested in explaining perceptions of fairness. Among their findings is that people who hold egalitarian beliefs are more likely to view inequality as unfair.

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  • Fuwa, Makiko. 2004. Macro-level gender inequality and the division of household labor in 22 countries. American Sociological Review 69:751–767.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900601Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Fuwa finds that the relationship between individual-level variables, such as gender ideology, and the division of household labor varies between more and less egalitarian countries. Individual-level attributes provide a stronger equalizing effect on household labor in more egalitarian countries.

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  • Gershuny, Jonathan, Michael Bittman, and John Brice. 2005. Exit, voice, and suffering: Do couples adapt to changing employment patterns? Journal of Marriage and Family 67:656–665.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00160.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors use data on the division of housework from three countries to understand how couples adjust to changes in employment over time. They identify gender differences in adaptation.

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  • Hochschild, Arlie, and Anne Machung. 2003. The second shift. New York: Penguin.

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    Hochschild and Machung present findings from a qualitative study of couples’ division of household labor. They argue that women, especially those who are in the labor force, still spend more time on household labor than do men. The authors conceptualize the extra time spent on childcare, daily chores and home management as a second shift that women must take after they return from their paid work.

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  • South, Scott J., and Glenna Spitze. 1994. Housework in marital and nonmarital households. American Sociological Review 59:327–347.

    DOI: 10.2307/2095937Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    South and Spitze compare hours spent on housework among people in different types of households. Noting that women do more housework in heterosexual couple households than in other households (e.g., single-woman household), the authors argue that housework is an example of “doing gender.”

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  • Treas, Judith, and Sonja Drobnič, eds. 2010. Dividing the domestic: Men, women, and household work in cross-national perspective. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    In this edited volume, authors discuss the trends in housework across countries. They also explore the effects of country characteristics on the division of housework, including economic inequality, social policies, and cultural norms.

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LAST MODIFIED: 07/27/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756384-0019

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