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Understanding Families
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Understanding Families
A Global Introduction



December 2011 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Families are at the core of our society. Our experience of them affects many aspects of our everyday lives shaping our expectations and future plans.

Written by field experts this clear, engaging book adopts a global perspective to usefully examine how modern families can be explored and understood. Packed with critical pedagogy, including case-studies, think points, key words and a glossary, it guides students through topics such as relationships, sexualities and paid and unpaid work.

The book also:

  • Applies key social theories from classical sociological theory and contemporary analysis
  • Examines best practice for researching families and family life
  • Explores the role of government policies and practices

This comprehensive introduction to the study of families and relationships is a timely resource for students and lecturers working across the social sciences.

 
Introduction
Structures, Processes and Strategies

 
Family or Families?

 
Families in History

 
The Families We Live With, The Families We Live By

 
The Contents of the Book

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
PART ONE: INTRODUCING FAMILIES
 
Families and Relationships
Introduction

 
Families: A Constant State of Flux

 
Continuities and Presumptions

 
Structures: Identifying and Talking About Families

 
Defining Families 1: Common Characteristics

 
Defining Families 2: Values, Memories and Spaces and Places

 
Statistical Trends and Family Structures

 
Processes: Families, Kinship and Activities

 
Global Families

 
Topic 1. The Impact of Welfare Regimes on Families: France, the Russian Federation, East and West Germany

 
Topic 2: Ideal and Actual Families in Asia

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
Explaining Families
Introduction

 
Sociological Explanations: Premise and Origins

 
Ideology and Theory: What Is This Thing 'the Family'?

 
Sociological Theory

 
Ties that Bind: Making Sense of Structures

 
Families as a Framework: Parsons

 
Socialization: Merton

 
Actors and Actions: Theories of Interaction

 
Interactions: Goffman

 
Structures and Practices: Giddens and Wallace

 
Theories of Conflict

 
The 'Lifeworld' of Families: Habermas

 
Women, Men, Gender: Feminist Perspectives

 
Feminist and Gender: Perspectives on Families

 
Global Dimensions

 
Contemporary Voices on Intimacy

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
PART TWO: RESEARCH AND POLICY
 
Researching Families
Introduction

 
Research Methods

 
Survey Research

 
Writing About People and Families: Ethnographic Research Methods

 
Secondary Analysis of Research Studies

 
Historical Research on Families

 
Approaches to the History of the Family

 
Better Times for Families?

 
Documenting Change in Family Processes

 
Family and Sex 1900-2000

 
Private Troubles and Public Issues

 
Researching Change and Continuity

 
Solo Living

 
Talking About Sex

 
Single Parenting

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
Politics, Policies and Practices
Introduction

 
Definitions

 
Policies and Families' Forms and Functions

 
Family Policy - New Kid on the Block?

 
How do Policies Deliver Benefits to Families?

 
Policy Approaches to Different Family Forms

 
Evidence-Based Policy

 
Families in Action

 
Families and Social Cohesion

 
Families and Social Breakdown

 
Beyond Stereotypes

 
Families and the Welfare State

 
The Relationship Between Politics and Policies

 
Services and Practices

 
Types of Services

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
PART THREE: FAMILIES IN ACTION
 
Relationships and Sexualities
Introduction

 
Lets Get Together: Marriage, Cohabitation

 
Universality of Marriage and Partnering

 
Definition of Partnering - How do People Partner?

 
Diversity in Partnering Arrangements

 
Cohabitation

 
Same-Sex Couples and Families

 
Children Raised by Same-Sex Couples

 
Moving Apart: Breakdown and Divorce

 
Why do Relationships Break Down?

 
What Changes After Divorce and What Stays the Same?

 
Being Together and Living Apart: Solo Living, Friendships and Social Networks

 
'Coupleness' Outside of Cohabitation

 
Why else do people Live Alone?

 
Beyond the Family - Friendships

 
Social Networks

 
Communities and Neighbourhoods

 
The Effects of Neighbourhoods and Communities on Families

 
Sexualized Societies

 
Enduring Relationships: Generating Histories

 
Enduring Intimacy

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
Families and Work
Introduction

 
Defining and Explaining Work

 
Underemployment and Unemployment

 
Boundaries: Paid and Unpaid Work

 
The Global Context

 
Survival and Longevity: The Challenge to Work

 
Decent Work and Rural Employment

 
Relationships and Resources

 
Acquiring and Allocating Resources

 
Gender and Resources

 
Unpaid Work

 
Gender Roles and Unpaid Work

 
Quantifying and Valuing Unpaid Work

 
Vital but Subordinate

 
Family Practices and Work

 
Policy, Politics and Families

 
Explaining Preferences and Choices

 
Migrant Domestic Workers

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
PART FOUR: CONCLUSIONS
 
Families into the Future
Introduction

 
Trends and Futures

 
Working Patterns, Gender and Care

 
Demography: Fertility, Life Expectancy and Care

 
Relationship Formation

 
The Impact of Technologies on Families

 
Commonalities and Differences across the Globe

 
Beliefs and Behaviours

 
Sustainable Families?

 
The Importance of Childcare

 
Shaping Politics and Policy

 
Addressing Family Fragility

 
Same-Sex Relationships and Assisted Reproduction

 
Summary

 
Explore Further

 
 
Glossary

This is a very dense and intersting text that covers a lot of ground.

Dr Chris Jones
School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University
October 9, 2012

A comprehenensive text that makes essential reading for social work students

Dr Shepard Masocha
School of Social Policy, Sociology & Social Research, University of Kent
September 13, 2012

This text will prove useful to students from a range of disciplines on the BA Health & Community programme

Mrs Ges Teager
Education , University College Birmingham
May 15, 2012

I would recommend this book to students on introductory courses on families and relationships. It is a very clear introduction to those entirely new to this topic, and comprehensive enough to provide useful material to those with some familiarity.

Dr Roona Simpson
Department of Sociology, Glasgow University
May 2, 2012

brilliant book - this book is really helpful for students undertaking their practice placement

Ms Von Kelso
Arts and Social Sciences, Hull University
April 24, 2012

A useful text, helps the reader to develop understanding of similarities and differences in relation to the family across the world. The links between chapters and glossary are particularly helpful.

Mr Dave Mason
Please select your department, Please select your institution
April 2, 2012

Easy to read text, which debates current thinking surrounding modern families. Case studies and questions for the reader throughout the text help traslate theory into practice.

Mrs Justine Gallagher
Sch of Health,Community & Educ Studies, Northumbria University
March 12, 2012

This is a very useful book for people 1) needing to understand more about families and 2) who want to do research into families. It is an academic textbook as opposed to practitioner oriented handbook but I think could still be useful for trainee family therapists and for research into work with families.

Dr GAIL SIMON
The Relate Institute, The Relate Institute
February 16, 2012
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Sample Materials & Chapters

Introduction


Linda McKie

Professor Linda McKie is Head of School for Applied Social Sciences (SASS) at Durham University.  More About Author

Samantha Callan

Dr Samantha Callan is recognised as a research and policy expert in the fields of family relationships, mental health and the early years. She is currently Associate Director for Families and Mental Health at the Centre for Social Justice, for whom she has chaired four major social policy reviews. She is also an Honorary Research Fellow at Edinburgh University's Centre for Research in Families and Relationships (CRFR). More About Author

For instructors

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