Marriage and Family

Read this chapter for a review of marriage and family. As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Read about Christina and James as an introduction to the topic of marriage and family. When reading about Christina and James, consider their mothers' reactions to living together or getting married. How are their reactions different, and how might these attitudinal responses indicate social ideas about living together or being married?
  • Take note of society's current understanding of the family. Recognize changes in marriage and family patterns, paying close attention to cohabitation.
  • Read about variations in family structure, acknowledging and understanding the prevalence of single parents, cohabitation, same-sex couples, and unmarried individuals. Think critically about how the politicization of sexuality has affected the family structure as well as our social construction of the family.
  • Take note of the social and interpersonal impacts of divorce, focusing also on children of divorce and remarriage. Also take notes on the problems of violence and abuse in the family.

Key Terms

a type of unilateral descent that follows either the father's or the mother's side exclusively

the act of entering into marriage while still married to another person

bilateral descent
the tracing of kinship through both parents' ancestral lines

the act of a couple sharing a residence while they are not married

extended family
a household that includes at least one parent and child as well as other relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins

socially recognized groups of individuals who may be joined by blood, marriage, or adoption and who form an emotional connection and an economic unit of society

family life course
a sociological model of family that sees the progression of events as fluid rather than as occurring in strict stages

family life cycle
a set of predictable steps and patterns families experience over time

family of orientation
the family into which one is born

family of procreation
a family that is formed through marriage

intimate partner violence (IPV)
violence that occurs between individuals who maintain a romantic or sexual relationship

a person's traceable ancestry (by blood, marriage, and/or adoption)

a legally recognized contract between two or more people in a sexual relationship who have an expectation of permanence about their relationship

matrilineal descent
a type of unilateral descent that follows the mother's side only

matrilocal residence
a system in which it is customary for a husband to live with the his wife's family

the act of being married to only one person at a time

nuclear family
two parents (traditionally a married husband and wife) and children living in the same household

patrilineal descent
a type of unilateral descent that follows the father's line only

patrilocal residence
a system in which it is customary for the wife to live with (or near) the her husband's family

a form of marriage in which one woman is married to more than one man at one time

the state of being committed or married to more than one person at a time

a form of marriage in which one man is married to more than one woman at one time

shaken-baby syndrome
a group of medical symptoms such as brain swelling and retinal hemorrhage resulting from forcefully shaking or impacting an infant's head

unilateral descent
the tracing of kinship through one parent only.