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Summary

Sociologists view marriage and families as societal institutions that help create the basic unit of social structure. Both marriage and a family may be defined differently—and practiced differently—in cultures across the world. Families and marriages, like other institutions, adapt to social change.

Short answer

According to research, what are people's general thoughts on family in the United States? How do they view nontraditional family structures? How do you think these views might change in twenty years?

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Explain the difference between bilateral and unilateral descent. Using your own association with kinship, explain which type of descent applies to you?

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Further research

For more information on family development and lines of descent, visit the New England Historical Genealogical Society’s web site, American Ancestors, and find out how genealogies have been established and recorded since 1845. (External Link)

References

Altman, Irwin, and Joseph Ginat. 1996. Polygamous Families in Contemporary Society . New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, Philip. 2011. “Chinese: Maternal Grandmothers, Outside Women.” FamilyInequality.com , Retrieved February 13, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Glezer, Helen. 1991. “Cohabitation.” Family Matters 30:24–27.

Glick, Paul. 1989. “The Family Life Cycle and Social Change.” Family Relations 38(2):123–129.

Griver, Simon. 2008. “One Wife Isn’t Enough … So They Take Two or Three.” The Jewish Chronicle Online , April 24. Retrieved February 13, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Haak, Wolfgang et al. 2008. “Ancient DNA Reveals Male Diffusion through the Neolithic Mediterranean Route.” Proceedings of the National Association of Sciences , November 17. Retrieved February 13, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Harrell, Stevan. 2001. “Mountain Patterns: The Survival of Nuosu Culture in China.” Journal of American Folklore 114:451.

Jayson, Sharon. 2010. “What Does a ‘Family’ Look Like Nowadays?” USA Today , November 25. Retrieved February 13, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Joseph, Suad, and Afsaneh Najmabadi. 2003. “Kinship and State: Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia and the Pacific.” Pp. 351–355 in Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: Family, Law, and Politics . Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers.

Lambert, Bernd. 2009. “Ambilineal Descent Groups in the Northern Gilbert Islands.” American Anthropologist 68(3):641–664.

Lee, Richard. 2009. The American Patriot’s Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America . Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Mails, Thomas E. 1996. The Cherokee People: The Story of the Cherokees from Earliest Origins to Contemporary Times . New York: Marlowe&Co.

Murdock, George P. 1967. Ethnographic Atlas: A Summary . Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Murphy, Patrick, and William Staples. 1979. “A Modernized Family Life Cycle.” Journal of Consumer Research 6(1):12–22.

Museum of Broadcast Communications. 2010. “Family on Television.” Retrieved January 16, 2012.

O’Neal, Dennis. 2006. “Nature of Kinship.” Palomar College. Retrieved January 16, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Parsons, Talcott, and Robert Bales. 1955. Family Socialization and Interaction Process . London: Routledge.

Pew Research Center. 2010. “The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families.” November 18. Retrieved February 13, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

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.

Respers France, Lisa. 2010. “The Evolution of the TV Family.” CNN , September 1. Retrieved February 13, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Ruoff, Jeffrey. 2002. An American Family: A Televised Life . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Strong, B., and C. DeVault. 1992. The Marriage and Family Experience . 5th ed. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2010. “Current Population Survey (CPS).” Retrieved January 16, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Useem, Andrea. 2007. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Co-Wife.” Slate , July 24. Retrieved January 16, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

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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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