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Family is, indeed, a subjective concept, but it is a fairly objective fact that family (whatever one’s concept of it may be) is very important to people in the United States. In a 2010 survey by Pew Research Center in Washington, DC, 76 percent of adults surveyed stated that family is “the most important” element of their life—just one percent said it was “not important” (Pew Research Center 2010). It is also very important to society. President Ronald Regan notably stated, “The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedoms” (Lee 2009). While the design of the family may have changed in recent years, the fundamentals of emotional closeness and support are still present. Most responders to the Pew survey stated that their family today is at least as close (45 percent) or closer (40 percent) than the family with which they grew up (Pew Research Center 2010).

Alongside the debate surrounding what constitutes a family is the question of what people in the United States believe constitutes a marriage. Many religious and social conservatives believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman, citing religious scripture and the basics of human reproduction as support. Social liberals and progressives, on the other hand, believe that marriage can exist between two consenting adults—be they a man and a woman, or a woman and a woman—and that it would be discriminatory to deny such a couple the civil, social, and economic benefits of marriage.

Marriage patterns

With single parenting and cohabitation    (when a couple shares a residence but not a marriage) becoming more acceptable in recent years, people may be less motivated to get married. In a recent survey, 39 percent of respondents answered “yes” when asked whether marriage is becoming obsolete (Pew Research Center 2010). The institution of marriage is likely to continue, but some previous patterns of marriage will become outdated as new patterns emerge. In this context, cohabitation contributes to the phenomenon of people getting married for the first time at a later age than was typical in earlier generations (Glezer 1991). Furthermore, marriage will continue to be delayed as more people place education and career ahead of “settling down.”

One partner or many?

People in the United States typically equate marriage with monogamy    , when someone is married to only one person at a time. In many countries and cultures around the world, however, having one spouse is not the only form of marriage. In a majority of cultures (78 percent), polygamy    , or being married to more than one person at a time, is accepted (Murdock 1967), with most polygamous societies existing in northern Africa and east Asia (Altman and Ginat 1996). Instances of polygamy are almost exclusively in the form of polygyny. Polygyny refers to a man being married to more than one woman at the same time. The reverse, when a woman is married to more than one man at the same time, is called polyandry    . It is far less common and only occurs in about 1 percent of the world’s cultures (Altman and Ginat 1996). The reasons for the overwhelming prevalence of polygamous societies are varied but they often include issues of population growth, religious ideologies, and social status.

Questions & Answers

Define major social process in brief with suitable examples
Sweta Reply
what is Nigeria development strategies
Onoyima Reply
good leadership
Ali
what sociology offers you ?
Mohamed Reply
Alote of knowledge
Buhari
sociology enable us to understand the society and the people behaviour
Ameh
a lot of theological ideas
EDOR
having study the method of social control critically discuss how they could be applied in resolving any deviant act of choice
Precious Reply
how does the family ensure social order and continuity in the society
Hazel Reply
I want to join your group
Ishmael
can someone please explain more about sociology theory..
Srijana Reply
Sociological theory according to Robert K. Merton (1967) refers to logically interconnected sets of propositions from which empirical uniformities can be derived
Ameh
discuss Nigeria development strategies
Onoyima
what is culture?
mohammad Reply
way of living
Sultan
culture is the way people live their life's....
Noah
The beliefs, values, behaviour and material objects that constitute a people's way of life.
young
culture is the sum total of knowledge , attitudes and habitual behavioural pattern shares and transmitted by members of the society.
AHUMBE
What is sociological imagination
Abubakarr Reply
what are the agent of socialization?
AHUMBE Reply
why is sociology important as a student of Hospitality and Tourism?
Oluwabukola Reply
hlo
Samir
hi
Muluken
sociology is very important becaus , it set students to career advancement , .it also enrich the development in the society . It also educates students to know what is unknown to them but supposed to be known , like histories,
AHUMBE
★ Define family and marriage and identify their different historical types.
Abir Reply
family is a group of people who share or have common kin connection. Marriage is when two people share kin connection and have a sexual approved union between them.
Stanford
Family group of people that are by all means related by blood from two sources and they also have many things in common life face resemblance and manny more.... Marriage is simply a connection between two people of different genthers with the soul aim of building a family in a life time
Dura
what is sociology
Sonia Reply
sociology is a social science and also a mirror through which human beings look into the societies. In addition it's a study of the society.
Ameh
Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.
young
sociology is the systematiç study of human society, social behavior, human interaction, and human group.
AHUMBE
explain the positive deviance promoting growth and development in (a)socialization (b)social group pressure and coercion
Precious Reply
What is condition in india retative to socialize.
Pintu Reply
any benefit reading of sociology
Waseem Reply
yes! there's a lot of benefits
Ameh
because it's the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and chang
Ameh
....e or social evolution
Ameh
hello
Tilahun

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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