- Last updated
- Save as PDF
- Page ID
SOCIOLOGY OF THE FAMILY
Dr. Ron J. Hammond
* * * * *
Dr. Ron J. Hammond and Dr. Paul Cheney on Smashwords Sociology of the Family
Copyright © 2010 by Dr. Ron J. Hammond
This book is being released under a Creative Commons License of Attribution (BY).
This means that you are free to use the materials contained in this work for any purpose as long as credit is given to the authors. More free books available at freebooks.uvu.edu.
Chapter 01-Introduction: Changes and Definitions
Welcome to this Sociology of the Family Free Online textbook. I am the author and have worked for over a year writing this textbook so that students can have a free alternative to the expensive textbooks currently being sold in campus bookstores. I have taught Sociology of The Family for over 20 years and have a Ph.D. in Family Studies from Brigham Young University (Class of 1991). I have taught thousands of students how to understand the family using sociology as a framework for gaining insight and expertise in their study of the family. Most of my students did not continue on in the field of family studies. A few are professors in their own right and others are therapist practicing in their communities.
My bias toward the family is to provide you with information that is scientifically sound and practically useful. It is not enough for me to simply spread facts. I want to tell students what works, what doesn't work, and how to tell the difference in finding real solutions to their own life troubles. Call it bias or just common sense, if you read this book you'll find more answers than questions. My first full-time gig as a professor of sociology was in a community college where administrators demanded that we provide a service to our students that was worth the money they paid us for teaching. I have continued on in this professional commitment since then. Having said that, enjoy the textbook.
In all societies, the family is the premier institution for all of the following: socialization of children, adult intimate relationships, life-long economic support and cooperation, and continuity of relationships along the life-course. Sociologists are leaders among scientists who study the family. They have functioned in a core assessment role for describing, explaining, and predicting family-based social patterns for the United States and other countries of the world. Sociologists have allowed us to understand the larger social and personal level trends in families.
The family structures that were very common a century ago are not nearly as common today. In the US around the year 1900 most families had 3 generations living in one home (e.g., children, parents, and uncle/aunt/grandparent) and most did manual labor.
Today, very few families live with multiple generations. Most modern families fall into one of two types: nuclear, or blended. The Nuclear Family is a family group consisting of mother & father and their children. This is the family type that is mostly preferred. One variation of this type is the single-parent family, which can be created by unwed
motherhood, divorce, or death of a spouse. The second most common form is the Blended Family, which is the family created by remarriage including step-siblings and parents. Finally, all of the family relations you have past your nuclear or blended family we call Extended Family, which are one's relatives beyond nuclear and blended family levels (i.e. cousins, aunts & uncles, grand and great grandparents).
The US Census Bureau conducts annual surveys of the US population and publishes them as the Current Population Surveys. Table 1 represents the US family Types as of October 1, 2008. You will notice that marrieds comprise the largest proportion of family types in 2008. Single never marrieds are the second largest type and include another 6.8 million cohabiters of opposite sex and an unknown number of same sex cohabiters. Next is divorced, widowed, then separated (see Table UC1. Opposite Sex Unmarried Couples by Labor Force Status of Both Partners: 2008 retrieved 30 March 2009 from http://www.census.gov/population/www...m/cps2008.html).
Look at Figure 1 below to see the US trend of actual numbers in millions of family types.
It shows that the single largest type of family in the US has always been marrieds then never marrieds. The divorced overtook widowed category in the 1970s and has been higher ever since. Why are the trends upward? Simply put, these are numbers and not rates nor percentages. The population has grown and therefore the population size has been steadily increasing.
What are the functions of families? In studying the family, Functional Theorists (See Chapter 3) have identified some common and nearly universal family functions. That means almost all families in all countries around the world have at least some of these functions in common. Table 2 shows many of the global functions of the family.
By far, economic support is the most common function of today's families. When your parents let you raid their pantry, wash clothes in their laundry, or replenish your checking account, that's economic support. For another young adult, say in New Guinea, if she captures a wild animal and cooks it on an open fire, that's also economic support in a different cultural context. I've always been amazed at how far family economic cooperation extends. Some families cooperate in business-like relationships. In Quebec, Montreal there is an established pattern of Italian immigrants who help family and friends emigrate from Italy to Canada. They subsidize each other's travel costs, help each other find employment once in Canada, and even privately fund some mortgages for one another. Each participant is expected to support others in the same manner. To partake in this form of economic cooperation is to assume a very business-like relationship.
Emotional relationships are also very common, but you must understand there is a tremendous amount of cultural diversity in how intimacy is experienced in various families around the world. Intimacy is the social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical trust that is mutually shared between family members. Family members share confidences, advice, trust, secrets, and ongoing mutual concern. Many family scientists
believe that intimacy in family relationships functions as a strong buffer to the ongoing stresses experienced by family members outside of the home.
Socialization of children is covered in more detail in a Chapter Four. For now, keep in mind that children are born with the potential to be raised as humans. They will realize this potential if older family members or friends take the time to protect and nurture them into their cultural and societal roles. Today the family is the core of primary socialization.
But many other societal institutions contribute to the process including schools, religion, workplace, and media.
Sexuality and Reproduction Control
The family has traditionally asserted control of sexuality and reproduction. A few centuries ago the father and mother even selected the spouses for many of their children (they still do in many countries). Today, U.S. parents want their adult children to select their own spouses. Older family members tend to encourage pregnancy and childbirth only in marriage or a long-term relationship. Unwed mothers are mothers who are not legally married at the time of the child's birth. Being unwed brings up concerns of economic, emotional, social, and other forms of support for the mother that may or may not be present from the father. Many fathers reject their fatherly obligations in the case of unwed mothers.
When an unwed mother delivers the baby, it is often the older female family members who end up providing the functions of support for that child rather than the birth father.
Table 3 shows the unwed mother births for the US in 2000 and 2006. Most of the 4,266,000 live US births in 2006 were to married mothers. But about 1/10 of teen mothers and 38 percent of all mothers were unwed (retrieved 30 March 2009 from http://
www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/09s0077.pdf). This trend of increasing unwed birth rates suggests that more and more families have less control by sanctioning childbirth within marriage. On the other side of the coin, many of these unwed mothers marry the child's fathers and many of those marriages eventually end in divorce.
Taken from Statistical Abstracts of the US on 30 March 2009 from Table 87. Births to Teenage Mothers and Unmarried Women and Births With Low Birth Weight-States and Island Areas: 2000 to 2006 http://www.census.gov/compendia/stat...es/09s0087.pdf Ascribed Status
Finally, ascribed status is there at birth. With your friends, have you noticed that one or two tend to be informally in charge of the details? You might be the one who calls everyone and makes reservations or buys the tickets for the others. If so, you would have
the informal role of “organizer.” Status is a socially defined position, or what you do in a role. There are three types of status considerations: Ascribed Status is present at birth (race, sex, or class), Achieved Status is attained through one's choices and efforts (college student, movie star, teacher, or athlete), and Master Status is a status which stands out above our other statuses and which distracts others from seeing who we really are.
You were born into your racial, cultural-ethnic, religious and economic statuses. That shaped to some degree the way you grew up and were socialized. By far in our modern societies, achieved status (which comes as a result of your own efforts) is more important than ascribed (which you're born with) for most members of society. Although the degree of achievement you attain often depends heavily on the level of support families give to you.
Another consideration about groups and our roles in them is the fact that one single role can place a rather heavy burden on you (e.g., student). Role strain is the burden one feels within any given role. And when one role comes into direct conflict with another or other roles you might experience role conflict. Role conflict is the conflict and burdens one feels when the expectations of one role compete with the expectations of another role.
The first and most important unit of measure in sociology is the group, which is a set of two or more people who share common identity, interact regularly, and have shared expectations (roles), and function in their mutually agreed upon roles. Most people use the word “group” differently from the sociological use. They say group even if the cluster of people they are referring to don't even know each other (like 6 people standing at the same bus stop). Sociologists use “aggregate,” which is a number of people in the same place at the same time. So, people in the same movie theater, people at the same bus stop, and even people at a university football game are considered aggregates rather than groups. Sociologists also discuss categories. A category is a number of people who share common characteristics. Brown-eyed people, people who wear hats, and people who vote independent are categories-they don't necessarily share the same space, nor do they have shared expectations. In this text we mostly discuss trends and patterns in family groups and in large categories of family types.
Family groups are crucial to society and are what most of you will form in your own adult lives. Groups come in varying sizes: dyads, which are groups of two people and triads, which are groups of three people. The number of people in a group plays an important structural role in the nature of the group's functioning. Dyads are the simplest groups because 2 people have only 1 relationship between them. Triads have three relationships. A group of 4 has 6 relationships, 5 has 10, 6 has 15, 7 has 21, and one of my students from Brazil has 10 brothers and sisters and she counts 91 relationships just in her immediate family (not counting the brothers and sisters in law). When triads form it looks much like a triangle and these typically take much more energy than dyads. A newly married couple experience great freedoms and opportunities to nurture their marital relationship. A triad forms when their first child is born. Then they experience a tremendous incursion upon their marital relationship from the child and the care demanded by the child. As Bill Cosby said in his book Fatherhood, “Children by their very nature are designed to ruin your marriage” (1987, Doubleday Publisher, NY).
As sociologists further study the nature of the group's relationships they realize that there are two broad types of groups: primary groups, which tend to be smaller, less formal, and more intimate (families and friends), and secondary groups, which tend to be larger, more formal, and much less personal (you and your doctor, mechanic, or accountant). Look at the diagram below in Figure 2. Typically with your primary groups, say with your family, you can be much more spontaneous and informal. On Friday night you can hang out wherever you want, change your plans as you want, and experience fun as much as you want. Contrast that to the relationship with your doctor. You have to call to get an appointment, wait if the doctor is behind, address him or her as “Doctor,” then once the diagnoses and co-pay are made you leave and have to make another formal appointment if you need another visit. Your Introduction to Sociology class is most likely large and secondary. Your family and friends tend to be few in numbers and primary in nature.
Family Systems Theory
One core definition that will help you in studying the family is that of Family Systems.
Family Systems Theory claims that the family is understood best by conceptualizing it as a complex, dynamic, and changing collection of parts, subsystems and family members.
Much like a mechanic would interface with the computer system of a broken down car to diagnose which systems are broken (transmission, electric, fuel, etc.) and repair it, a therapist or researcher would interact with family members to diagnose how and where
the systems of the family are in need of repair or intervention. Family Systems Theory comes under the Functional Theory umbrella and shares the functional approach of considering the dysfunctions and functions of complex groups and organizations.
The average person lives too narrow a life to get a clear and concise understanding of today's complex social world. Our daily lives are spent among friends and family, at work and at play, and watching TV and surfing the Internet. There is no way one person can grasp the big picture from their relatively isolated lives. There's just not enough time or capacity to be exposed to the complexities of a society of 310 million people. There are thousands of communities, millions of interpersonal interaction, billions of Internet information sources, and countless trends that transpire without many of us even knowing they exist. What can we do to make sense of it all?
Psychology gave us the understanding of self-esteem, economics gave us the understanding of supply and demand, and physics gave us the Einstein theory of E=MC2.
When I learned of the sociological imagination by Mills, I realized that it gives us a framework for understanding our social world that far surpasses any common sense notion we might derive from our limited social experiences. C. Wright Mills (1916-1962), a contemporary sociologist, suggested that when we study the family we can gain valuable insight by approaching it at two core societal levels. He stated, “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both" (Mills, C. W. 1959. The Sociological Imagination page ii; Oxford U. Press). Mills identified “Troubles” (challenges on the personal level) and “Issues” (challenges on the larger social level) as key principles for wrapping our minds around many of the hidden social processes that transpire in an almost invisible manner in today's societies. Look at Figure 3 below to see a diagram of the Sociological Imagination and its two levels (personal and larger social).
Personal Troubles are private problems experienced within the character of the individual and the range of their immediate relation to others. Mills identified the fact that we function in our personal lives as actors and actresses who make choices about our friends, family, groups, work, school, and other issues within our control. We have a degree of influence in the outcome of matters within the personal level. A college student who parties 4 nights out of 7, who rarely attends class, and who never does his homework has a personal trouble that interferes with his odds of success in college. But, when 50
percent of all college students in the country never graduate we call it a larger social issue.
Larger Social Issues lie beyond one's personal control and the range of one's inner life.
These pertain to society's organization and processes. To better understand larger social issues, let us define social facts. Social facts are social processes rooted in society rather than in the individual. Émile Durkheim (1858-1917, France) studied the “science of social facts” in an effort to identify social correlations and ultimately social laws designed to make sense of how modern societies worked given that they became increasingly diverse and complex (see Émile Durkheim, The Rules of the Sociological Method, (Edited by Steven Lukes; translated by W.D. Halls). New York: Free Press, 1982, pp. 50-59).
Social facts are typically outside of the control of average people. They occur in the complexities of modern society and impact us, but we rarely find a way to significantly impact them back. This is because, as Mills taught, we live much of our lives on the personal level and much of society happens at the larger social level. Without a knowledge of the larger social and personal levels of social experience, we live in what Mills called a false social conscious, which is an ignorance of social facts and the larger social picture.
A larger social issue is illustrated in the fact that nationwide, students come to college as freshmen ill-prepared to understand the rigors of college life. They haven't often been challenged enough in high school to make the necessary adjustments required to succeed as college students. Nationwide, the average teenager text messages, surfs the Net, plays video or online games, hangs out at the mall, watches TV and movies, spends hours each day with friends, and works at least part-time. Where and when would he or she get experience focusing attention on college studies and the rigors of self-discipline required to transition into college credits, a quarter or a semester, study, papers, projects, field trips, group work, or test taking.
In a survey conducted each year by the US Census Bureau, findings suggest that in 2006
the US has about 84 percent who've graduated high school ( http://
www.factfinder.uscensus.gov; see table R1501 at
_box_head_nbr=R1501&-ds_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_&-format=US-30). They also found that only 27 percent had a bachelors degree ( http:// www.factfinder.uscensus.gov; see table R1502 at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/GRTTable?_bm=y&-
Given the numbers of freshman students enrolling in college, the percentage with a bachelors degree should be closer to 50 percent.
The majority of college first year students drop out, because nationwide we have a deficit in the preparation and readiness of Freshmen attending college and a real disconnect in their ability to connect to college in such a way that they feel they belong to it. In fact college dropouts are an example of both a larger social issue and a personal trouble.
Thousands of studies and millions of dollars have been spent on how to increase a freshman student's odds of success in college (graduating with a 4-year degree). There are millions and millions of dollars in grant monies awarded each year to help retain college students. Interestingly, almost all of the grants are targeted in such a way that a specific college can create a specific program to help each individual student stay in college and graduate.
The real power of the sociological imagination is found in how you and I learn to distinguish between the personal and social levels in our own lives. Once we do that we can make personal choices that serve us the best, given the larger social forces that we face. In 1991, I graduated with my Ph.D. and found myself in very competitive job market for University professor/researcher positions. With hundreds of my own job applications out there, I kept finishing second or third and was losing out to 10 year veteran professors who applied for entry level jobs. I looked carefully at the job market, my deep interest in teaching, the struggling economy, and my sense of urgency in obtaining a salary and benefits. I came to the decision to switch my job search focus from university research to college teaching positions. Again the competition was intense. On my 301st job application (that's not an exaggeration) I was interviewed and beat out 47
other candidates for my current position. In this case, knowing and seeing the larger social troubles that impacted my success or failure in finding a position was helpful.
Because of the Sociological Imagination, I understood the larger social job market and was able to best situate myself within it to solve my personal trouble.
There are larger social trends that will be identified in the 16 chapters that follow this one. Some of them can teach you lessons to use in your own choices. Others simply provide a broad understanding of the context of the family in our complicated society.
This free online textbook comes with 93 self-assessments designed to enlighten YOU
about YOUR personal family circumstances. They are not therapy, and they are not diagnostic. They are simply insightful and designed to help you understand better your personal family circumstances.
In this textbook you will find larger social evidences of many current United States family trends. Figure 4 shows these trends and where they will be discussed in this textbook. These changes were initiated in the Industrial Revolution where husbands were called upon to leave the cottage and venture into the factory as breadwinners. Women became homemakers and many eventually ended up in the labor force as well. The trend of having fewer children and having fewer of them die in or immediately after birth is directly related to medical technology and the value of having smaller families in our current service-based economy. The trend of lowering our standards of what exactly a
“clean house” means is an adjustment that arguably needed to be made, because the post-World War II marketing campaigns convinced women that a spotless house was a good woman. Today, good women have varying levels of a clean house.
Of concern to many are the continuing high rates of divorce. I fully intend to present you with knowledge about what is happening and what you can do to prevent divorce and enhance the quality and satisfaction of your marriage. These other relatively high, yet declining rates will be discussed in further detail, also providing you with information about what you can do and what works. The higher categories include many trends. Some may comfort you while others may threaten or concern you. I urge you to study them, to listen to your professor, and to ask questions about the things in the study of the family that become important to you.
Simply studying something does not imply that you agree with it or support it for yourself or others any more than studying diseases in your basic health class means you have to go out and get one or support others in getting one. One of the many benefits of being a college student is that it expands and broadens your opinions. I found in my 8
years of college and university that my opinions became more entrenched and I was able to better understand my values and defend my own views. By keeping my mind open and
my willingness to learn new things, I graduated a better person than when I started. I challenge you to keep your mind open. Trust that learning doesn't mean changing for the worse.
As mentioned above, the Industrial revolution changed societies and their families in an unprecedented way, such that Sociology as a discipline emerged as an answer to many of the new-found societal challenges. Societies had change in unprecedented ways and had formed a new collective of social complexities that the world had never witnessed before.
Western Europe was transformed by the industrial revolution. culture . The Industrial Revolution transformed society at every level. Look at Table 4 below to see pre and post-Industrial Revolution social patterns and how different they were.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, families lived on smaller farms and every able member of the family did work to support and sustain the family economy. Towns were small and very similar (homogamy) and families were large (more children=more workers). There was a lower standard of living and because of poor sanitation people died earlier. After the Industrial Revolution, farm work was replaced by factory work. Men left their homes and became breadwinners earning money to buy many of the goods that used to be made by hand at home (or bartered for by trading one's own homemade goods with another's).
Women became the supervisors of home work. Much was still done by families to develop their own home goods while many women and children also went to the factories to work. Cities became larger and more diverse (heterogamy). Families became smaller (less farm work required fewer children). Eventually, standards of living increased and death rates declined.
It is important to note the value of women's work before and after the Industrial Revolution. Hard work was the norm and still is today for most women. Homemaking included much unpaid work. For example, my 93 year old Granny is an example of this.
She worked hard her entire life both in a cotton factory and at home raising her children, grand-children, and at times great grand-children. When I was a boy, she taught me how to make lye soap by saving the fat from animals they ate. She'd take a metal bucket and poked holes in the bottom of it. Then she burned twigs and small branches until a pile of ashes built up in the bottom of the bucket. After that she filtered water from the well through the ashes and collected the lye water runoff in a can. She heated the animal fat and mixed it in the lye water from the can. When it cooled, it was cut up and used as lye soap. They'd also take that lye water runoff and soak dried white corn in it. The corn kernel shells would become loose and slip off after being soaked. They'd rinse this and
use it for hominy. Or grind it up and make grits from it. We'll talk more about women and work in Chapter 4.
These pre and post-industrial changes impacted all of Western civilization because the Industrial Revolution hit all of these countries about the same way, Western Europe, United States, Canada, and later Japan and Australia. The Industrial Revolution brought some rather severe social conditions which included deplorable city living conditions, crowding, crime, extensive poverty, inadequate water and sewage, early death, frequent accidents, extreme pressures on families, and high illness rates. Today, sociology continues to rise to the call of finding solutions and answers to complex social problems, especially in the family.
The American Sociological Association is the largest professional sociology organization in the world. There is a section of ASA members that focuses its studies specifically on the family. Here is an expert of their mission statement:
May, 2010 from http://www.asanet.org/sections/family.cfm).”
Many family sociologists also belong to the National Council on Family Relations (www.ncfr.org). Their mission statement reads as follows:
“The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) provides an educational forum for family researchers, educators, and practitioners to share in the development and dissemination of knowledge about families and family relationships, establishes professional standards, and works to promote family well-being (retrieved 18 May, 2010
There are other family-related research organizations in the world, but these two rank among the largest and most prestigious organizations in the field of family studies. As with all of sociology and other social sciences, science and scientific rigor is paramount.
It is not enough to simply study the family from our narrow personal points of view. We have to reach into the larger social picture and see the hidden social processes that teach us how to inform marriage and family therapy, provide useful and accurate data to governmental and policy-making figures, and provide reliable advice that will help the most people in the most efficient way.
This becomes a scientific endeavor then to study and examine the family with rules of scientific engagement and analysis. For those earning a Ph.D. in a family-related field, science is learned and executed with rigor. If the results of a study are made public and presented for critical review by other family scientists then scientific rigor is even stronger and more credibility can be afforded to those findings. For example, studies have shown that the leading factor of divorce is not any of the following: sex problems, failures to communicate, money mismanagement, nor even in-law troubles. What is the leading cause of divorce? Would you believe it is marrying too young? Specifically, if you marry at 17, 18, or 19 you are far more likely to divorce than if you wait to marry in
your 20s. This was discovered and confirmed over decades of studying who divorced and which factors contributed more to divorce than others (See Chapter 12). The cool thing about knowing the risks of marrying as a teen is that you can choose to wait until you are older, more established in your sense of self, and more experienced in knowing your own likes and dislikes.
Another key point in studying the family is to understand that all families share some cultural traits in common, but all also have their own family culture uniqueness. Culture is the shared values, norms, symbols, language, objects, and way of life that is passed on from one generation to the next. Culture is what we learn from our parents, family, friends, peers, and schools. It is shared, not biologically determined. In other words, you are only born with drives, not culture. Most families in a society have similar family cultural traits. But, when you do marry you will learn that the success of your marriage is often based on how well you and your spouse merge your unique family cultures into a new version of a culture that is your own.
Yet, even though family cultures tend to be universal and desirable, we often judge other cultures as being “good, bad, or evil,” with our own culture typically being judged good.
We have to consider our perspective when studying families from different cultures. Are we ethnocentric or cultural relativist?
Ethnocentrism is the tendency to judge others based on our own experiences. In this perspective, our culture is right, while cultures which differ from our own are wrong. I once visited a beautiful Catholic cathedral, Cathédrale St. Jean in Lyon, France. I fell in love with this beautiful and historic monument to the religious devotion of generations of builders. I learned that it took about 300 years to build, that England's King Henry the VIII married his Italian bride there, and that the a few families had 9 generations of builders working on it. I left with a deep sense of appreciation it all. On the bus back to our hotel, we met some American tourists who were angry about their vacation in France.
The gentleman said, “these people will eat anything that crawls under the front porch, they never bathe, they dress funny, and they can't speak one *#&@ word of English!”
Another more valuable and helpful perspective about differing cultures is the perspective called Cultural Relativism, the tendency to look for the cultural context in which differences in cultures occur. If you've eaten a meal with your friend's family you have probably noticed a difference in subtle things like the food that is served and how it is prepared. You may have noticed that that family communicates in different ways from your own. You might also notice that their values of fun and relaxation also vary from your own. To dismiss your friend's family as being wrong because they aren't exactly like yours is being closed-minded. Cultural relativists like all the ice-cream flavors, if you will. They respect and appreciate cultural differences even if only from the spectators'
point of view. They tend to be teachable, child-like, and open-minded. They tend to enjoy or learn to enjoy the many varieties of the human experience.
An ethnocentric thinks on the level of carrot soup, peel carrots, add water, and boil. The cultural relativist tends to think on the level of a complex stew, peel and prepare carrots, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, broth, tofu, and 10 secret herbs and spices and simmer for 2 hours. The diversity of the human experience is what makes it rich and flavorful.
Also when discussing the average US child, it's safe to say that the most important socialization takes place early in life and in identifiable levels. Primary socialization typically begins at birth and moves forward until the beginning of the school years.
Primary socialization includes all the ways the newborn is molded into a social being capable of interacting in and meeting the expectations of society. Most primary socialization is facilitated by the family, friends, day care, and to a certain degree various forms of media. Children watch about 3 hours per day of TV (by the time the average child attends kindergarten he has watched about 5,000 hours of TV). They also play video games, surf the Internet, play with friends, and read.
Secondary Socialization occurs in later childhood and adolescence when children go to school and come under the influence of non-family members. This level runs concurrently with primary socialization. Children realize at school that they are judged for their performance now and are no longer accepted unconditionally. In fact, to obtain approval from teachers and school employees, a tremendous amount of conformity is required-this is in contrast to having been accepted at home for being “mommy's little man or woman.”
As students children have to learn to belong and cooperate in large groups. They learn a new culture that extends beyond their narrow family culture and that has complexities and challenges that require effort on their part. This creates stressors for the children. By the time of graduation from high school the average US child has attended 15,000 hours of school away from home. They've also probably watched 15,000 hours of TV, and spent 5-10,000 playing (video games, friends, Internet, text messaging, etc.).
find that their relationship with their children's friends keeps them better connected to their children. They learn that they can persuade their children at times through the peers.
You've probably already done this-graduation! Many new high school graduates face the strikingly harsh realities of adulthood shortly after graduation. Anomie often follows and it takes months and years at times for young adults to discover new regulating norms which ground them back into expectable routines of life.
The third level of socialization includes college, work, marriage/significant relationships, and a variety of adult roles and adventures. Adult socialization occurs as we assume adult roles such as wife/husband/employee/etc. We adapt to new roles which meet our needs and wants throughout the adult life course. Freshmen in college, new recruits in the military, volunteers for Peace Corps and Vista, employees, missionaries, travelers, and others find themselves following the same game plan that lead to their success during their primary and secondary socialization years-find out what's expected and strive to reach those expectations.
Life chances can also be applied to the quality of your own marriage and family. If you came from a highly shaming family culture, then you are more likely to develop an addiction. If you came from a family where the parents divorced, then you are more likely to divorce. If you were born to a single mother you are more likely to become a single mother or father. These are known correlates but not causes. In other words you may be slightly disadvantaged because of the difficult family circumstances you were born in, but you are by no means doomed.
Understanding life chances simply raises your awareness by demonstrating trends from the larger social picture that might well apply to you in your personal level. For example, I have about 21 known correlates to divorce (see Workbook assignment to discover your own). My wife and I have been married now for 25 years. We knew we would have an uphill battle in some regards. But we faced our life chance issues together (still do) and try specifically to avoid some of the same mistakes our parents made.
Finally, the US family in our day has an important underpinning that influences the family in the larger social and personal levels. Demography is the scientific study of population growth and change. Everything in society influences demography and demography conversely influences everything in society. After World War II, the United States began to recover from the long-term negative effects of the war. Families had been separated, relatives had died or were injured, and women who had gone to the factories then returned home at war's end. The year 1946 reflected the impact of that upheaval in its very atypical demographic statistics. Starting in 1946 people married younger, had more children per woman, divorced then remarried again, and kept having one child after another. From 1946 to 1956 the birth rate rose and peaked, then began to decline again.
By 1964 the national high birth rate was finally back to the level it was at before 1946.
The Baby Boomers are most likely your parents (Born 1946-1964). For a few of you they may be your grandparents. Their societal influence on the family changed the US forever.
The earliest cohort of Baby Boomers (1946-51) has the world record for highest divorce rates. Collectively baby Boomers are still divorcing more than their parents ever divorced. They had their own children and many of you belong to Generations X or Y (X
This part of the formula, (Births-Deaths) is called Natural increase, which is all births minus all the deaths in a given population over a given time period. The other part of the formula, ((In-Migration)-(Out Migration)) is called Net Migration, which is all the in-migration minus all the out-migration in a given population over a given time period. In all the chapters that follow this one, the issues pertaining to the family are heavily influenced by demography's social force in the United States. This formula is not just a measure of larger social trends, it is also an indirect factor that impacts those social
The Industrial revolution set into motion a surge of births and a lowering of deaths. After a century of this type of growth, billions of people lived on the earth. Eventually as the Industrial Revolution became the era of the computer chip, birth rates declined and death rates continued to increase. In Western civilizations this explains why migration is so important. Because fewer births mean less workers for the economy and more need for immigrants.
One of the most remarkable traits that August Comte mandated for Sociology was a core of scientific rigor. He proposed the concept of Positivism, the scientific-based sociological research that uses scientific tools such as survey, sampling, objective measurement, and cultural and historical analysis to study and understand society.
Although the current definition of positivism expands far beyond Comte's original vision, Sociological scientific methodology is used through government and industry researchers and across higher education and the private sector. Comte was originally interested in why societies remain the same (social Statics) and why societies change (social dynamics). Most sociological research today falls within these broad categories.
Sociologists strive for Objectivity, which is the ability to study and observe without distortion or bias, especially personal bias. Bias-free research is an ideal that, if not present will open the door to extreme misinterpretation of research findings.
Sociological science is both different and similar to other scientific principles. It differs from Chemistry, Biology, and Physics in that sociology does not manipulate the physical environment using established natural science theories and principles. It's similar to Chemistry, Biology, and Physics in that statistical principles guide the discovery and confirmation of data findings. Yet, Sociology has no universally social laws that resemble gravity, E=MC2, or the speed of light. This is because Chemistry, Biology, and Physics have the luxury of studying phenomenon which are acted upon by laws of nature.
Sociologist study people, groups, communities, and societies which are comprised of agents, people who use their agency to make choices based on their varied motivations (Google Anthony Giddens-human agency, January 18, 1938 British Sociologist).
Sociologist Perform Survey Research
Sociologists study people, who chose, decide, succeed, fail, harm others, harm themselves, and behave in rational and irrational ways. I've often explained to my students that if I took an ounce of gasoline and placed a burning match upon it, the gas would have to burn. The gas has no choice just as the flame has no choice. But, if someone placed a burning match on your arm, or the arm of your classmate, you or they might respond in any number of ways. Most would find the experience to be painful.
Some might enjoy it, others might retaliate with violence, and yet others might feel an emotional bond to the one who burned them. Sociologist must focus on the subjective definitions and perceptions that people place in their choices and motivations. In fact, sociologists account for human subjectivity very well in their research studies. The most common form of Sociological research of the family is survey research.
Polls are typically surveys which collect opinions (such as who one might vote for in an election, how one feels about the outcome of a controversial issue, or how one evaluates a public official or organization. The Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/) by the Constitutional mandate must count its entire population every 10 years (Such as the 2010
US Census). Population is the entire membership of a country, organization, group, or category of people to be surveyed (e.g., US population=305,000,000). A sample is only some portion of the population but not all of it (e.g., a US Census Bureau's American Community Survey of 35,000 US Citizens See http://www.census.gov/acs/www/).
Surveys can ask a certain category of people on a one-time basis; a Cross-Sectional Survey is a survey given once to a group of people. Surveys can also ask the same people to fill out a survey over an extended number of years, a Longitudinal Survey is a survey given to the same people more than once and typically over a set of years or decades.
Look above at the box in table 1 and we'll use this hypothetical ABC university student body population to better understand sampling. One of the most important issues when doing survey research is to ensure a good scientific sample. Random Sample is a portion of the population that is drawn in such a way that every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected for the survey (e.g., ABC University Registrar's office uses their computer software to randomly select 1 out of every 10 students for a survey about student opinions in favor of or against getting a football team). Representative Sample is a sample drawn from the population, the composition of which very much resembles that of the population. Typically this is obtained via a stratified random sample.
Stratified Random Sample is a portion of the population that is drawn in such a way that every member of the population and important sub-categories of the population have an equal chance of being selected for the survey, yielding a sample that is demographically similar to population (e.g., using the demographic table above, ABCU would sample 1
out of 10 students or 1,000. They would also want half of those students to be female and half male. They would also want to select for the racial groups. The easiest strategy to
do this would be for the Registrar to program the computer to select only the female student's files. Then they would have the computer select only the African American files and select 1 out of 10 students until they have 100 selected. They would repeat this for all other racial groups and then do the same for the males. Ideally, every student would respond to the request to take the survey and they would have a 1,000 student sample that was _ female and _ male; with all 5 racial groups represented equally (see Table 2 below for example). This is both ideal and hypothetical, but it's typical of the goal sample takers have of a stratified random and representative sample and the closer they get to this ideal the better the sample).
A Convenience Sample is a portion of the population that is NOT scientifically drawn, but is collected because they are easy to access (e.g., a group of ABCU students waiting at a bus stop; a group of ABCU students who respond to a radio talk show web poll; or a group of ABCU students who have children and bring them to the campus daycare).
Convenience samples yield weak results. Or as one of my Mentors, Dr. Tim Heaton, BYU, once said, “If you start the presentation of your research results with we didn't really do good science, but here's what we found…then few will stick around or care about what you found.”
It is also important to consider a few other scientific principles when conducting survey research. You need an adequate number of respondents. Sample Size is the number of respondents who are designated to take the survey (30 minimum in order to establish statistical confidence in the findings). You also have to obtain a relatively high Response Rate, the percentage of the original sample who successfully completed the survey. For example, at ABC university, if we set out to survey 1,000 out of the student body of 10,000 students, but only got 200 to take the survey, then our response rate risk being too low. One would say that 200/1,000=20 percent response rate. While 750/1,000=75
percent response rate. A sample of only 200 would likely not yield enough diversity in responses to get a broad understanding of the entire student body's reaction to the football team issue.
With a high enough response rate and a good scientific sample, one could feel comfortable comparing the sample's results to what the entire student body population might have said, had they all been surveyed. Generalizability means that the results from the sample can be assumed to apply to the population with confidence (as though the population itself had been studied). Also important is the quality of the survey itself as a scientific instrument. Valid Survey Questions are questions that are accurate and measure what they claim they'll measure (e.g., If the football survey asked, “Every campus needs a football team” versus “This campus would benefit from a football team.”
The first lacks validity because it isn't really getting the answer needed for the study, it's seeking an opinion about campuses and football teams in general). Reliable Survey Questions are survey questions that are relatively free from bias errors which might taint the findings. In other words, reliable survey questions are consistent.
Components of Good Surveys
There are 2 types of survey questions. Open Survey Questions are questions designed to get respondents to answer in their own words (e.g., “what might be the benefits of having a football team?”________________________________ or “what might be a negative consequence of having a football team?”________________________________).
Closed Survey Questions are questions designed to get respondents to choose from a list of responses you provide to them (e.g., About how many college football games have you ever attended? __1 __2 __3 __4 __5 __6 __7 __8 __9 __10+). Likert Scale Questions are the most common response scale used in surveys and questionnaires. These questions are statements which respondents are asked to agree or disagree with (e.g., Our campus would be deeply hurt by a football team). The respondents choose from the scale below for their answer:
1. Strongly disagree 2. Disagree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 4. Agree 5. Strongly agree Demographic Questions are questions which provide the basic categorical information about your respondent including age, sex, race, education level, marital status, birth date, birth place, income, etc. In order to run statistical analysis on survey results, one must enter the data into Excel, Statistical Packages for the Social Science (SPSS), or Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) in order to run analysis. Most statistics are run on numbers. By converting responses into numbers, most results can be analyzed. For example on the Disagree…Agree scale above one would use the number 1 in lieu of Strongly Disagree. Words can be analyzed using content analysis software. Content Analysis is the counting and tabulating of words, sentences, and themes from written, audio, video, and other forms of communication. The goal of content analysis is to find common themes among the words. For example if an open ended question such as this were asked, “what might be a negative consequence of having a football team?” then the results would be carefully read with tabulations of common responses. When we asked this question to our university students in a random sample, the worry about the high expenses required to fund the team and program was one of the most common negative consequence reported.
There are a few specific types of data that can be analyzed using statistical measures.
Nominal Data are data which have no standard numerical values. This is often referred to as categorical data (e.g., what is your favorite type of pet? __Reptile __Canine __Feline
__Bird __Other). There is no numerical value associated with reptile that makes it more or less valuable than a canine or other type pet. Other examples include favorite color, street addresses, town you grew up in, or ice cream flavor. Ordinal Data are rank ordered data which has standard numerical values. This is often referred to as numerical data.
(e.g., How many movies have you seen in the last two weeks? __0 __1 __2 __3 __4 __5).
Ordinal data has the assumption that seeing 2 movies took twice as much effort than seeing just 1 movie and seeing4 movies was twice the effort of seeing just 2. The values are equally weighted. The same could be said about how many A's you earned last semester, how much you get paid per hour at work, or how many cars your family drives…they are numerical values that can be compared and contrasted. Ratio Data=data that is shown in comparison to other data. For example, the Sex Ratio=the number of males per 100 females in a society. The sex ratio in the US is reported as follows on 5
February, 2009: Alaska 107/100; US Total 97.1/100; Rhode Island 93.6/100 (these were 2006 estimates from http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/GRTTable?_bm=y&-
Ratios provide uses comparative information and we can see that in 2006 Alaska had more males than females, 7 extra per 100 females. Rhode Island had nearly 7 fewer males per 100 females.
All of the examples above of football team related questions are considered variables.
Variables are survey questions that measure some characteristic of the population (e.g., if married students were more financially strapped than single students, one might find that they were more or less supportive of a football team based on their perception of how adding a football team might hinder or support their personal needs. Marital status as a consideration when comparing the findings of the survey becomes a variable in its own right). Two types of variables are measured: dependent and independent variables.
Dependent Variables are survey variables that change in response to the influence of independent variables. The dependent variable would be desire or opposition for a football team. Independent Variables are survey variables that when manipulated will stimulate a change upon the dependent variables (e.g., by considering married, widowed, divorced, separated, cohabiting, and never married students, one might find differing support/opposition to an ABCU football team).
When basic statistics are performed on data, we often call theme measures of central tendency (Mean, Median, or Mode). Consider this list of numbers which represents the number of movies 9 separate ABCU students had seen in the last 2 weeks: 0
Mean is the arithmetic score of all the numbers divided by the total number of students (e.g., 27÷9=3). Median is the exact mid-point value in the ranked list of scores (e.g., 0, 1, 1, &1 fall below and 4, 4, 5, & 8 fall above the number 3 thus 3 is the median). Mode is the number which occurs the most in a list of numbers (e.g.,1 occurs the most, so the mode is 1). Extreme value is an especially low or high number in the series (e.g., 8
movies in 2 weeks takes an inordinate amount of time for an average student. Notice that if you removed the 9th student's score and averaged only the remaining scores the mean=2.375. Extreme values can throw the mean way off. If you'd like to learn more about survey research, then take a research methods class. Chances are you will enjoy taking on the role of statistical detective. Here is an overview of simple questions to see if you are building a good survey.
1. What do you want to accomplish in this survey?
2. Who will your survey serve?
3. Who is the target audience for the survey?
4. How will the survey be designed?
5. How will you obtain a sample for the survey?
6. How will the survey be administered?
7. How big should your response rate be to give your results credibility?
8. How will the data be analyzed?
9. How will the results be presented?
10. Are humans or animals going to be at risk of harm in the survey?
Components of a good survey include clear purpose for taking the survey, clear understanding of desired outcomes of survey, good research supporting development and design of survey, appropriate sampling technique when collecting survey, reliability and validity in survey and its question and design, and clear and accurate presentation of survey findings that are appropriate for the type of survey used.
Can You Figure Out What Might Be Wrong With These Survey Questions?
1. Have you ever attended a college football or basketball game? __Yes __No 2. Are you in favor of spending all ABCU's money on an expensive football program?
3. Are you not opposed to supporting a football program? __Yes __No 4. I think the ABCU's administration pays too much attention to community service.
1 Strongly Disagree 2 Disagree 3 Don't know 4 Agree 5 Strongly Agree 5. It would be fiducially incompetent to initiate the cost-to-benefit ratio projections for a football team.
1 Strongly Disagree 2 Disagree 3 Don't know 4 Agree 5 Strongly Agree
1. Double barreled question…it asks two questions in one and you can't clearly answer.
2. Biased question…uses emotionally laden language which might change the response.
3. Double negative…creates confusion.
4. Irrelevant question for the survey about student interest in a football team.
5. Too many technical words that the average person would not understand…creates confusion.
Better Versions of the Same Questions
1. Have you ever attended a college football game? __Yes __No 2. Have you ever attended a college basketball game ? __Yes __No 3. Are you in favor of ABCU spending student fees on a football program? __Yes __No 4. Are you in favor of a football program? __Yes __No 5. I think the ABCU's administration should hold forums with students about the issue of a future football program.
1 Strongly Disagree 2 Disagree 3 Don't know 4 Agree 5 Strongly Agree 6. I am concerned about a new football program being too expensive.
1 Strongly Disagree 2 Disagree 3 Don't know 4 Agree 5 Strongly Agree Which Responses Categories Are Useful For Which Survey Question? It Depends on the Question!
1. 1 ___Yes 0___No
2. 4 Excellent 3 Good 2 Fair 1 Poor
3. 5 Very Likely 4 Somewhat Likely 3 No Preference 2 Unlikely 1 Very Unlikely 4. 0 Never 1 Seldom 2 Often 3 Regularly
5. 1 Strongly Disagree 2 Disagree 3 Don't know 4 Agree 5 Strongly Agree 6. 1 Strongly Disapprove2 Disapprove 3 Don't know 4 Approve 5 Strongly Approve 7. 3 Better 2 About the Same 1 Worse
When doing sociological research it helps if you understand the SMART
Attitude of skepticism
Thorough understanding of literature
Samples have to be random and representative. If not the results are fairly worthless.
One of my graduate school professors explained that if you start a sentence with, “we
didn't really do good scientific sampling, but here's what we found.” Most people won't care about your findings after they know your science was weak. I compare it to this hypothetical incident. Your car is broken down late at night in a dangerous part of town.
A passerby stops to help and says, “I don't know how to fix cars, but I'll go ask those people hanging out at the bus stop. He returns 10 minutes later and explains that 3 of the people there once had their cars break down and every time it was their spark plugs. So I'd recommend you change your spark plugs.” Believe me, I know this is a cheesy example, but it conveys the point. Asking three people at a bus stop is a convenience sample of people (not even mechanics). True, it does look and feel like a survey, but it is a terrible sample.
I watch this all the time on TV news stories where a few people on the street give their opinions; Internet polls where people who visit certain Websites give their opinions; and radio talk shows where votes are counted among those who are selected to comment on the air are treated as though they somehow represent all people everywhere. Smart people always check the sample for representativeness and random selection.
Methods typically include experiments, participant observations, non-participant observations, surveys, and secondary analysis.
Experiments are studies in which researchers can observe phenomena while holding other variables constant or controlling them.
In experiments, Experimental group gets the treatment and the Control group does not get the treatment. Even though Sociologists rarely perform experimental surveys, it is important to understand the rigors required to execute this type of research. In this example let's assume that researchers are testing the affect of a drug called XYZ. Among Herpes sufferers, XYZ may help to completely repel an outbreak. But, how can you discern if it was the medicine or simply that patient improvement came because they were in the study? We'd need some form of control/controls. In the diagram below you can see how scientists might administer an experimental study. If they took 300 patients and randomly assign them to Group A, which was an inert gum-only control, Group B
which was the gum and sugar control (yes, sometimes 2 control groups are needed), or Group B which is the experimental XYZ laced gum.
Let's assume that the patients chewed their respective chewing gums for 11 months then the medical results were gathered. Look at the next diagram below to see a set of hypothetical results. Group A was the control-gum only group and they showed a 5
percent improvement. Group B was the control-gum and sugar group and they showed 7
percent improvement. Group C was the experimental/treatment group and they showed a whopping 27 percent improvement. Now one study like this does not an FDA approved drug make. But, the results are promising. Interestingly, this is a pharmaceutical, medical study…not a sociology study. Almost all experiments are very tightly controlled and many transpire in laboratories or under professional clinical supervision.
Sociologists rarely study in laboratories. Scientists who do perform experiments can make causal conclusions. In order to establish cause there must be 3 criteria that are met, a correlation, time ordering (one preceded the other); and no spurious correlations. In the case of education and crime these 3 are not met. Causation means that a change in one variable leads to or cause a change in another variable, (e.g. XYZ chewing gum causes less Herpes outbreaks).
Sociologists do perform studies that allow for correlation research conclusions. There are three types of correlations. Direct correlation which means that the variables change in the same direction (e.g., the more education you have the more money you make).
Inverse correlation which means that the variables change in opposite directions (e.g., the more education you have the less criminal activity you get caught doing). Spurious correlation which is an apparent relationship between two variables which indicates their relationship to a third variable and not to each other (e.g., the more education you have, the higher your family's standard of living, and the lower your likelihood of participating in criminal activities). In other words there are other correlated factors that influence criminal behavior that simultaneously are at play.
Sometimes sociologists perform Field Experiments are studies which utilize experimental design but are initiated in everyday settings and non-laboratory environments. For example, a sociologist might manipulate the levels of lighting to study how factory work performance is impacted (Google Hawthorn Effect). A few other methods are sometimes used by Sociologists. Participant Observation is a research method where the researcher participates in activities and more or less assumes membership in the group she studies.
Content Analysis occurs when the researcher systematically and quantitatively describes the contents of some form of media. Secondary Analysis is the analysis of data that have already been gathered by others. Family Research studies tend to be survey studies, clinical observations, participant observations, secondary analysis of existing data, or qualitative interviews of family members.
One of the largest social surveys taken in the United States has been the General Social Surveys collected almost every year since 1972. It has provided 27 national samples with over 50,000 survey takers and thousands of variables as of 2008 (see http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Social_Survey retrieved 5 February, 2010). These large volumes of data and variables allow researchers to study the family at a scale that
most could never attain if left to fund and collect the data for themselves. I published an article recently about the financial plight of elderly widowed women in the US. The married women had much higher financial resources than the unmarried women. In general women had fewer resources than the men (see Hammond et al. 2008, Resource Variations and Marital Status among Later-Life Elderly, JACS Vol2 #1, pages 47-60).
By the way, my four co-authors on that article were Senior Students in our department here at UVU.
In Great Britain, the Family Resource Survey began in 1992 and has provided much needed insight into the needs and functioning of these families (Search http://www.natcen.ac.uk/ for family research studies online). In China, a US team of researchers performed a survey research study called the National Health and Nutrition Survey (retrieved 5 Feb., 2009 from
http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/China_H...trition_Survey). Numerous family and health data were collected for study. In Iraq, a medical family survey was conducted by the World Health Organization and Iraqi officials wherein over 9,000 households were surveyed (see http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Fa..._Health_Survey). The focus here was on the ravages that the ongoing war had taken on families and social networks.
Clinical observation studies typically take place in counseling, medical, residential treatment settings, or community centers. Perhaps two of the most prominent clinical researchers of the family have been Doctors Judith Wallerstein and John Gottman.
Doctor Wallerstein studied children of divorce over the course of 25 years and has made a thorough study of the impacts that divorce has had on these children and their adult marriages and life experiences (see research-based books: The Good Marriage (1995
HM); Second Chances: 1996 HM); Surviving the Breakup (1996 HC); and The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (2000H)).
Dr. John Gottman studied couples in depth by videotaping them in clinically controlled apartments “love labs” where he observed their daily interaction patterns and carefully analyzed the footage of their interaction patterns. His research lead to the “Four Horsemen of Divorce” and the classification of 4 aspects of deeply troubled marriages: Defensiveness, Stonewalling, Criticism, and Contempt (see research-based books: The Relationship Cure (2002 TRP); Why Marriages Succeed or Fail (1995 FP); Seven Principles (2007 TRP); and Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage (2007 TRP).
Participant observations are much less common than surveys and clinical studies. They basically are studies where the researcher lives in, belongs to, or participates in the very social familial experience that is being studied. I read of one researcher who sat on a chair in the home of parents of newly adopted children with disabilities make their adjustments of the new family member into the family system. This and similar studies tend to take many hours and yield lots of information about a very narrow and specific research question.
The National Survey of Families and Households was collected in the early 1990s where 13,000+ families were interviewed in depth for survey information (Search Web for
“Bumpass and Sweet NSFH”). This massive data set now exist in electronic form and can be analyzed by anyone seeking to look at specific research questions that pertain to many different aspects of the family experience in the US at that time. When a
researcher analyzes existing data it is called Secondary Analysis. This would apply to a research examining any of the above mentioned surveys, the US Census, or even the Population Reference Bureau's world data available free at www.prb.org.
Finally, family members can be interviewed through in-depth qualitative interviews designed to capture the nuances of their experiences. This is what Dr. Judith Wallerstein did when she wrote the book, The Good Marriage (1995). She carefully interviewed 50
happily married couples that were considered by those around them to have a really good marriage. Her work was published in an era of family research that was flooded with studies about divorce and family dysfunction. The Good Marriage began, in my estimation, a turn of events that made it more acceptable to study the positive functioning and side of family experiences in the US.
Just for fun I've added an interesting survey my students and I developed to study dating patterns here at UVU in 2006. Some of my students were interested in why we are drawn to those we date and which factors lead us toward staying together or breaking up.
Chapter 03-Theories & the Family
Making Sense of Abstract Theories
Sociological theories are the core and underlying strength of the discipline. They guide researchers in their studies. They also guide practitioners in their intervention strategies.
And they will provide you with a basic understanding of how to see the larger social picture in your own personal life. Theory is a set of interrelated concepts used to describe, explain, and predict how society and its parts are related to each other. The metaphor I've used for many years to illustrate the usefulness of a theory is what I call the
“goggles metaphor.” Goggles are a set of inter-related parts that help us see things more clearly. Goggles work because the best scientific components work together to magnify, enlarge, clarify, and expand to our view the thing we are studying.
Theories are sets of inter-related concepts and ideas that have been scientifically tested and combined to magnify, enlarge, clarify, and expand our understanding of people, their behaviors, and their societies. Without theories, science would be a futile exercise in statistics. In the diagram below you can see the process by which a theory leads sociologist to perform a certain type of study with certain types of questions that can test the assumptions of the theory. Once the study is administered the findings and generalizations can be considered to see if they support the theory. If they do, similar studies will be performed to repeat and fine-tune the process. If the findings and generalizations do not support the theory, the sociologist rethinks and revisits the assumptions they made.
Here's a real-life scientific example. In the 1960's two researchers named Cumming and Henry studied the processes of aging. They devised a theory on aging that had assumptions built into it. These were simply put, that all elderly people realize the inevitability of death and begin to systematically disengage from their previous youthful roles while at the same time society prepares to disengage from them (see Maddox et al.
1987 The Encyclopedia of Aging, Springer Pub. NY) for much more detail. Cumming and Henry tested their theory on a large number of elderly persons. Findings and generalization consistently yielded a “no” in terms of support for this theory. For all intents and purposes this theory was abandoned and is only used in references such as these (for a more scientifically supported theory on aging Google “Activity Theory and/or Continuity Theory”). Theories have to be supported by research and they also provide a framework for how specific research should be conducted.
By the way theories can be used to study society-millions of people in a state, country, or even at the world level. When theories are used at this level they are referred to as Macro Theories, theories which best fit the study of massive numbers of people (typically Conflict and Functional theories). When theories are used to study small groups or individuals, say a couple, family, or team, they are referred to as being Micro Theories, theories which best fit the study of small groups and their members (typically Symbolic Interactionism or Social Exchange theories). In many cases, any of the four main theories can be applied at either the macro or micro levels.
There are really two distinct types of theories. First, Grand Theory is a theory which
deals with the universal aspects of social processes or problems and is based on abstract ideas and concepts rather than on case specific evidence. These include Conflict, Functionalism, Symbolic Interactionism, and Social Exchange Theories; second, Middle-Range Theory is a theory derived from specific scientific findings and focuses on the interrelation of two or more concepts applied to a very specific social process or problem.
Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) was a functional theory-based sociologist who taught the value of using smaller more specifically precise theories in trying to explain smaller and more specific social phenomena. These theories include Continuity, Activity, Differential Association, and Labeling theories. (see American Sociology Association, Theory http://www.asatheory.org/).
Let's consider the 4 grand theories one at a time. The Conflict Theory is a macro theory.
Macro theory is a sociological theory designed to study the larger social, global, and societal level of sociological phenomena. This theory was founded by a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, and revolutionary (1818-1883). Marx was a witness to oppression perpetrated by society's elite members against the masses of poor. He had very little patience for the capitalistic ideals that undergirded these powerful acts of inhumane exploitation of the average person. To him struggle was innate to all human societies. Later another German named Max Weber (1864-1920; pronounced “Veybur”) further developed this sociological theory and refined it to a more moderate position.
Weber studied capitalism further but argued against Marx's outright rejection of it.
Conflict theory is especially useful in understanding war, wealth and poverty, the haves and the have nots, revolutions, political strife, exploitation, divorce, ghettos, discrimination and prejudice, domestic violence, rape, child abuse, slavery, and more conflict-related social phenomena. Conflict theory claims that society is in a state of perpetual conflict and competition for limited resources. Marx and Weber, were they alive today, would likely use Conflict Theory to study the unprecedented bailouts by the US government which have proven to be a rich-to-rich wealth transfer.
Conflict Theory assumes that those who have perpetually try to increase their wealth at the expense and suffering of those who have not. It is a power struggle which is most often won by wealthy elite and lost by the common person of common means. Power is the ability to get what one wants even in the presence of opposition. Authority is the institutionalized legitimate power. By far the bourgeoisie, wealthy elite (royalty, political, and corporate leaders), have the most power. Bourgeoisie are the “Goliaths” in society who often bully their wishes into outcomes. The Proletariat are the common working class, lower class, and poor members of society. According to Marx (see diagram below) the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat cannot both have it their way and in order to offset the wealth and power of the Bourgeoisie the proletariat often rise up and revolt against their oppressors (The French, Bolshevik, United States, Mexican, and other revolutions are examples).
In fact Marx and Weber realized long ago that society does have different classes and a similar pattern of relatively few rich persons in comparison to the majority who are poor-the rich call the shots. Look below at the photographic montage of homes in one US
neighborhood which were run down, poor, trashy, and worth very little. They were on the West side of this gully and frustrated many who lived on the East side who were forced to drive through these “slums” to reach their own mansions.
The Conflict Theory has been repeatedly tested against scientifically derived data and it repeatedly proves to have a wide application among many different levels of sociological study. That is not to say that all sociological phenomena are conflict-based. But, most Conflict theorist would argue that more often than not Conflict assumptions do apply.
Feminist theory is a theoretical perspective that is couched primarily in Conflict Theory assumptions.
Functionalism or Structural Functionalism Theory The next grand theory is called Functionalism or Structural Functionalism. Functionalist theory claims that society is in a state of balance and kept that way through the function of society's component parts. This theory has underpinnings in biological and ecological concepts (see diagram below). Society can be studied the same way the human body can be studied-by analyzing what specific systems are working or not working, diagnosing problems, and devising solutions to restore balance. Socialization, religious involvement, friendship, health care, economic recovery, peace, justice and injustice, population growth or decline, community, romantic relationships, marriage and divorce, and normal and abnormal family experiences are just a few of the evidences of functional processes in our society.
Sure, Functionalists would agree with Conflict Theorists that things break down in society and that unfair treatment of others is common. These break downs are called Dysfunctions, breakdowns or disruptions in society and its parts, which threaten social stability. Enron's collapse, the ruination of 14,000 employees' retirement funds, the loss of millions in shareholder investments, and the serious doubt it left in the mind of US
investors about the Stock Market's credibility and reliability which lasted for nearly a decade are examples of dysfunctions in the economic sector of the economy. But, Functionalists also look at two types of functions, manifest and latent functions.
Manifest functions is are the apparent and intended functions of institutions in society.
Latent functions are the less apparent, unintended, and often unrecognized functions in social institutions and processes.
Back to Enron, the government's manifest function includes regulation of investment rules and laws in the Stock market to ensure credibility and reliability. After the Enron collapse, every company offering stocks for trade underwent a government supervised audit of its accounting processes in order to restore the public trust. For the most part balance was restored in the Stock Market (to a certain degree at least). There are still many imbalances in the investment, mortgage, and banking sectors which have to be readjusted; but, that's the point society does readjust and eventually recover some degree of function.
Does the government also provide latent or accidental functions to society? Yes. Take
for example the US military bases. Of all the currently open US military bases, all are economic boons for the local communities surrounding them. All provide jobs, taxes, tourism, retail, and government contract monies that would otherwise go somewhere else.
When the discussion about closing military bases comes up in Washington DC, Senators and members of Congress go to work trying to keep their community's bases open.
As you can already tell, Functionalism is more positive and optimistic that Conflict Theory (the basis for much criticism by many Conflict Theorists). Functionalists realize that just like the body, societies get “sick” or dysfunction. By studying society's parts and processes, Functionalists can better understand how society remains stable or adjust to destabilizing forces when unwanted change is threatened. According to this theory most societies find that healthy balance and maintain it (unless they don't and collapse as many have in the history of the world. Equilibrium is the state of balance maintained by social processes that help society adjust and compensate for forces that might tilt it onto a path of destruction.
Getting back to the Conflict Example of the gully separating extremely wealthy and poor neighborhoods, look at this Habitat for Humanity picture below. I took this close to my own home, because it represents what Functional Theorists claim happens-component parts of society respond to dysfunctions in ways that help to resolve problems. In this house the foundation was dug, poured, and dried within a week. From the foundation to this point was three working days. This house is now finished and lived in, thanks mostly to the Habitat non-profit process and the work of many volunteers. From the Functionalism perspective, optimism is appropriate and fits the empirical data gathered in society.
Symbolic Interactionism Theory
Interactionism comes in two theoretical forms, Symbolic Interaction and Social Exchange. By far, my favorite sociological theory is Symbolic Interactionism. Symbolic Interaction claims that society is composed of ever present interactions among individuals who share symbols and their meanings. This is a very useful theory for understanding other people; improving communications; learning and teaching skills in cross-cultural relations; and generally speaking, “not doing harm to your roommates” as many of my students often say after understanding this theory. Values, communication, which hunting, crisis management, fear from crime, fads, love and all that comes with it,
“evil and sin,” what's hot and what's not, alien abduction beliefs, “who I am,” litigation, mate selection, arbitration, dating joys and woes, and both personal national meanings and definitions (September 1, 2001-WTC) can all be better understood using Symbolic Interactionism.
Once you realize that individuals are by their social natures very symbolic with one another, then you begin to understand how to persuade your friends and family, how to understand others' points of view, and how to resolve misunderstandings. This theory magnifies the concepts of meanings. Think about these three words, LOVE, LUST, and LARD. Each letter is a symbol. When combined in specific order, each word can be defined. Because we memorize words and their meanings we know that there is a striking difference between LOVE and LUST. We also know that LARD has nothing to do with either of these two terms (for most people at least). Contrast these word pairs,
hate versus hope, help versus hurt, advise versus abuse, and connect versus corrupt.
These words, like many others, carry immense meaning and when juxtaposed sound like the beginning of philosophical ideas.
Symbolic Interactionism makes it possible for you to be a college student. It makes it so you understand your professors' expectations and know how to step up to them. Our daily interactions are filled with symbols and an ongoing process of interactions with other people based on the meanings of these symbols. “How's it going?” Ever had anyone you've greeted actually answer that question? Most of us never have. It's a greeting, not a question, in the US culture.
If you want to surprise someone, answer them next time they say How's it going? If they have a sense of humor, they might get a kick out of it. If not, you may have to explain yourself. Symbolic Interactionism Theory explores the way we communicate and helps us to understand how we grow up with our self-concept (see socialization chapter). It helps you to know what the expectations of your roles are and if you perceive yourself as doing a good job or not in meeting those expectations.
There are many other Symbolic Interactionism concepts out there to study, let's just talk about one more-The Thomas Theorem or Definition of the Situation. Thomas Theorem is often called the “definition of the situation” which is basically if people perceive or define something as being real then it is real in its consequences. I give a few examples from the media, a woman was diagnosed as HIV positive. She made her funeral plans, made sure her children would be cared for then prepared to die. Two-years later she was retested. It turned out her first test results were a false positive, yet she acted as though she had AIDS and was certainly going to die soon from it.
In a hypothetical case, a famous athlete (you pick the sport) defines himself as invincible and too famous to be held legally accountable for his criminal behavior. He is subsequently found guilty. A politician (you pick the party and level of governance) believes that his/her constituents will tolerate anything. When he/she doesn't get reelected no one is surprised. The point is that when we define our situation as being real, we act as though it is real (regardless of the objective facts in the matter).
Symbolic Interactionism is very powerful in helping people to understand each other.
Newlyweds, roommates, life-long friends, young adult children and their parents, and teammates can all utilize the principles to “walk a mile in the other's shoes;” “see the world through their glasses;” and/or simply “get it.” One of the major realization that comes with Symbolic Interactionism is that you begin to understand the other people in your life and come to know that they are neither right nor wrong, just of a different point of view. They just define social symbols with varying meanings.
To understand the other person's symbols and meanings, is to approach common ground.
Listen to this statement by Rosa Parks (1913-2005), “All I was doing was trying to get home from work.” In 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a White person, it proved to be a spark for the Civil Rights Movement that involved the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. and many other notable leaders. It was Rosa Park's simple and honest statement that made her act of defiance so meaningful. The lion share of the nation was collectively tired and sick of the mistreatment of Blacks. Many Whites joined the protests while others quietly sympathized. After all that was written in the history
books about it, a simple yet symbolic gesture by Rosa Parks symbolically started the healing process for the United States.
Social Exchange Theory
The remaining theory and second interactionist theory is Social Exchange. Social Exchange claims that society is composed of ever present interactions among individuals who attempt to maximize rewards while minimizing costs. Assumptions in this theory are similar to Conflict theory assumptions yet have their interactistic underpinnings.
Basically, human beings are rational creatures, capable of making sound choices once the pros and cons of the choice are understood. This theory uses a formula to measure the choice making processes.
(“What I get out of it”-“What I lose by doing it”)=”My decision”
We look at the options available to us and weigh as best we can how to maximize our rewards and minimize our losses. Sometimes we get it right and other times we make a bad choice. One of the powerful aspects of this theory is the concept of Equity. Equity is a sense that the interactions are fair to us and fair to others involved by the consequences of our choices. For example, why is it that women who work 40 hours a week and have a husband who works 40 hours per week do not perform the same number of weekly hours of housework and childcare? Scientists have surveyed many couples to find the answer.
Most often, it boils down to a sense of fairness or equity. Because she defines it as her role to do housework and childcare, while he doesn't; because they tend to fight when she does try to get him to perform housework, and because she may think he's incompetent, they live with an inequitable arrangement as though it were equitable (don't get me started on the evidence that supports men sharing the actual roles of housekeepers and childcare providers-see Joseph Pleck, “Working Wives/ Working Husbands” Sage Pub, CA).
Each of us tries constantly to weigh pros and cons and to maximize the outcomes of our choices. I often provide a rhetorical challenge to my students when I ask them to go down to the cafeteria, pick the least attractive person they can find, take them on a date where they drive and they pay for everything, then give the person a 7 second kiss at the end of the date. “Why would we do that?” they typically ask. “That's my point,” I typically reply, having increased a bit of their understanding of the Social Exchange Theory.
Any of the four theories can be used to study any individual and collective behaviors.
But, some do work better than others because their assumptions more precisely match the issue of interest. Divorce might be studied from the Conflict Theory to understand how things become adversarial and how and why contested divorces sometimes become violent. Divorce might be studied from the Functionalism Theory to understand how divorce is a means to resolving untenable social circumstance-it is a gesture designed to restore balance and equilibrium. Divorce might be studied using the Symbolic Interactionism Theory to identify how people define their roles before, during, and after the divorce and how they reestablish new roles as unmarried adults. Divorce might also
be studied using the Social Exchange Theory to understand the processes and choices that lead to the final divorce decision, distribution of assets, child custody decrees and the final legal change of status (see Levinger and Moles, “Divorce and Separation: Context, Causes, and Consequences” 1979, Basic Books).
I've enclosed a simple summary sheet of the four basic theories used most by sociologists. It serves well as a reference guide, but can't really replace your efforts to study sociological theories in more detail. On the next page I've enclosed a self-assessment that may help you to assess your leanings towards these four main theories and two others that are often used by sociologists. On the self-assessment don't be surprised if you find that all four theories fit your world-view. Keep in mind they have been extensively studied for a very long time.
Family Systems Theory
When understanding the family, the Family System Theory has proven to be very powerful. Family Systems Theory claims that the family is understood best by conceptualizing it as a complex, dynamic, and changing collection of parts, subsystems and family members. Much like a mechanic would interface with the computer system of a broken down car to diagnose which systems are broken (transmission, electric, fuel, etc.) and repair it; a therapist or researcher would interact with family members to diagnose how and where the systems of the family are in need of repair or intervention.
To fully understand what is meant by systems and subsystems look at Figure 6 below.
Family Systems Theory comes under the Functional Theory umbrella and shares the functional approach of considering the dysfunctions and functions of complex groups and organizations.
Figure 6 shows the extended family system which centers around a middle-aged couple named Juan and Maria Rodriguez. Juan is a tenured university professor who lives with his parents, his wife's widowed mother, his two children Anna and José, Anna's husband Alma and the 3-month old triplets Anna just delivered C-section. Notice that Maria's father passed away, so he has an X over his place in this diagram. Because Juan is financially established he can support the large extended family. This represents a 4-generation complex family system. There are three couples living within this home, Juan and Maria, Grandpa and Grandma, and Alma and Anna. But, there are various levels of strain felt by each couple.
Today multi-generational family systems are becoming more common, but are typically three generations where the married adult child and his or her spouse and children move back home. Juan and Maria raised their two children Anna and José with tremendous support from grandparents. Maria's mother was a college graduate and has been a big help to José who is a sophomore in junior college and a basketball team member. Juan's mother and father are the oldest family members and are becoming more and more dependent. Juan's mother requires some daily care from Maria.
In fact, Maria has the most individual strain of any family member in this family system.
Juan and Maria have each felt a strain on their marriage because of the strains that come from each subsystem and family member who depends upon them. Think about it-they both have in-laws in the house; they both contribute to the care needs of the elderly family members; and they both try to support their son's basketball games and
tournaments. But, most of all, there are three brand new babies in the house.
Those new babies have strained the entire family system, but extreme strain lands on Maria because Alma is a second year medical student and spends long hours in class and training. Anna is extremely overwhelmed by bottle-feedings, diapers, and other hands-on baby care demands. So, Maria is supporting both her daughter and three grandsons, but it's overwhelming. Look at Figure 7 Below.
Maria is the Matriarch of this family system. She simultaneously belongs to the following subsystems, Daughter-Mother, Daughter-in-law-Father & Mother-in-law, Spousal, Mother-Son, Mother-Daughter, Mother-in-law-Son-in-law, and Grandmother-grandchildren. Normally a large number of subsystems in one's life does not imply strain or stress. But, Juan and Maria have very demanding circumstances with Maria providing caregiving to Juan's Mother, caregiving to her post-childbirth daughter, Anna, and to the newborn triplets. Maria consults with Juan during a diner date. Juan holds a family meeting on Sunday evening. In it Juan's father volunteers to help Anna with the feeding and holding of the triplets. Juan arranges for elder-care nursing for his mother.
Anna decides to hire a team of teenaged young women to work hourly as her assistants.
Maria's mother feels that she can help with meal preparation. Interestingly, Maria insists that she continue to contribute as a grandmother and on the weekend with Juan's mother (perhaps she felt the need to fulfill her role expectations and preserve some self-dignity).
All agree and move forward. Juan, as do many Marriage and Family Therapists, already knows that a by looking at the family as a complex system with inter-locking and interdependent subsystems, solutions can be found among the members of the system and subsystems.
This brings up the issue of boundaries. "Boundaries” is a concept used in human relationships and family systems which are basically defined as distinct: emotional, psychological, or physical separateness between individuals, roles, and subsystems in the family. Boundaries are crucial to healthy family functioning. In my many years of teaching Family Systems theory I have found that the “My House, My Boundaries”
(developed by Ron J. Hammond, 1998) metaphor is very useful in understanding why and how healthy and unhealthy boundaries impact the family systems as strong as they do (See Figure 8 below).
My House, My Boundaries
Social scientists have known for years that boundary maintenance is important for healthy relationships. From the Family Systems perspective we learn that family subsystems need to be maintained properly so that the overall family system functions properly. It is also important that interpersonal boundaries be maintained. But how exactly does one maintain them in our families which tend to be diverse and complex?
One answer is to use the house paradigm of personal boundaries. Think of yourself as having a personal house which exists in the suburbs of your many relationships. We put locks and latches on our real house doors and windows to keep intruders out. This paradigm will teach you how to put relationship locks and latches on our personal house so that only those you choose to invite into your house will be allowed in and at a level of interaction that you are comfortable with.
Each of us has the responsibility of taking charge of our own house. That means we choose which people we invite in, when they are invited in, and which level of closeness in our house we allow them to share with us. We also have the responsibility of ensuring that we don't violate others' house boundaries. Look at the floor plan included here.
Think of it in terms of varying levels of intimate or personal interaction with others. The gate is the most superficial level of interaction; whereas the bedroom is the deepest level.
Let's consider each part of the house and its level of intimacy. The Gate is where we typically interact with strangers. We say hello, hi, how's it going'? We often don't really want to have the person respond. These are simply polite greetings we use with people we don't know.
The Porch & Entry Way is for people you are getting to know better, say another student you sit next to in class. You might begin to share personal information about your name, where you are from, or your major. At these levels you rarely share extremely personal information. That is reserved for people you have known for a long time and already trust.
Let's say that after a few weeks of school, you form a study group including the classmate you previously introduced yourself to. After a few tests and projects, you find that everyone in the study group has been sharing personal information. This might include information about your family, career aspirations, struggles with your parents, and the like. You are now interacting at the Living Room level in your house. You share information but are still guarded about the more vulnerable things about yourself.
In the Kitchen you share more personal information. This you might do with someone you are going steady with, dating, or feel very close to. In this level of interacting, you have deeply established trust and can share your fears, concerns, weaknesses, and hopes with someone in conversation. In the kitchen, confidences are kept. Each knows and respects this fact. The kitchen is often the deepest level of intimacy outside of marriage, cohabitation, or long-term commitments. The Bedroom represents the level of intimacy that spouses and partners experience. Here a person expresses intimacy at the most intimate level. You can think of the bedroom as representing a haven where physical and emotional intimacy can flourish. In the bedroom we are seen by our partner in our naked form. This implies that we are our true naked self here. In other words, our spouse or partner accepts us and interacts with us knowing our less apparent flaws. But even for couples, boundaries must be maintained. Each of us has a Safe.
Our safe represents the most intimate, vulnerable, and personal part of who we are. We rarely open it, even for our spouse or partner. When we do open it we must train our significant other to treat its contents with the utmost in respect and dignity. This takes practice, time, and lots of forgiveness for couples to achieve. Only we know the combination to our safe and we choose when to open and close it. You will notice that the bedroom can be attached to another bedroom. You and your spouse or partner each have your own house and each interact in each other's bedroom simultaneously.
Often newlyweds have the challenge of removing extended family members from the bedroom level (especially parents).
We have heard horror stories of parents interfering with their married children's relationship by giving unsolicited financial, sexual, and/or contraceptive advice; setting up financial deals which keep the children indebted to them; and over involving their married children in their family so that their children have to struggle to establish their own marriage traditions and customs. Couples sometimes have to be extremely diligent in removing the parents or other offenders from their bedroom issues. If this is the case for you keep in mind that in the long run, it will be worth it. Relationships tend to be healthier and people tend to be happier when boundaries are maintained. The other two
rooms represent unique concepts in this paradigm.
The Washroom represents a place where you can clean up the messes people sometimes bring into your house. For example, sometimes parents get too personal with their newly married children and can be offensive at times. After you and your spouse or partner remove them to the level of interacting you are comfortable with, you can symbolically wash their muddy footprints out of your rug, forgive, and get on with things. The Family Room represents the level of interacting that is appropriate to the family but not necessarily to others outside of the family system. Family jokes, stories, traditions, and other appropriate interactions occur in this room.
When family boundaries are violated there tends to be two forms of violation. Home invasion where the individual inserts themselves into the your intimate life uninvited (e.g., “how much money do you make?; why do you keep making the same mothering mistakes over and over?; or what types of sexual maneuvers do you practice?”). Then there is the Abduction, where the individual kidnaps you into his or her personal intimacies against your will (e.g., Let me tell you what my partner and I did in bed last night…; my husband is such a loser when it comes to making money. Just last week he got passed over for a promotion…; or my mom gives her pain meds to any of us children who ask.”). Neither the home invasion nor abduction is healthy when unwanted or invited.
As was mentioned before, you are responsible for maintaining the level of interaction in your house. You should interact at levels that you define as comfortable and appropriate for you. Many in our society are conditioned not to respect boundaries and most who don't are not even aware of why it is such an unhealthy practice. There are numerous methods you can use to either remove an intruder from rooms in your house or to remove yourself if you are invited into someone else's house at a level you are not comfortable with.
First, you might distract the other person by changing the subject or talking to another person in the room. Make sure NOT to give approval to those who violate boundaries, since many are hungry for constant affirmations and will continue to violate boundaries if it rewards them this way. Second, you might educate the person about boundaries and the level of intimacy he or she is interacting on and why you are uncomfortable with it.
Third, you might also consider harshly confronting the other person (the sooner the better in most relationships) or if your previous efforts appear to have brought little change in the relationship. Fourth, and most extremely, you may need to sever destructive relationships where boundary violations threaten the unity and cohesiveness of the family system (e.g., a person seeking extramarital intimacy).
You are the very best judge of specifically how to maintain your personal boundaries.
Keep in mind that this paradigm is based on the belief that personal boundary maintenance is really about interacting with others based on your true feelings, needs, and wants. It is not about controlling others. It is about self-control and to a large degree honesty with our self. We have included a worksheet to assist you in thinking through those strategies you might employ for specific people. We have given you an example of a generic floor plan of the house (you would do best to draw your own). In the Workbook there is a self-study questionnaire, worksheet, disposition toward theories, and
a boundary maintenance questionnaire to help you personalize these principles.