HDFS 2200 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Institutional Review Board, Date Rape, The Marriage Market
SchoolOhio State University
DepartmentHuman Dev and Family Science
Course CodeHDFS 2200
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I. Defining Family
The text defines family as: any sexually expressive, parent-child, or other kin relationship in which
people—usually related by ancestry, marriage, or adoption—1. form and economic or otherwise practical
unit and care for any children or other dependents, 2. consider their identity to be significantly attached to
the group, and 3. commit to maintaining that group over time.
A. Family Functions
1. Raising children responsibly
2. Providing economic order and other practical support
3. Offering emotional security
B. Traditionally, both law and social science specified that the family consisted of people
related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Some definitions of the family specified a
common household, economic interdependency, and sexual/reproductive relations.
C. The U.S. Census Bureau defines a family as two or more persons sharing a household
and who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
D. America is increasingly postmodern. Ultimately, there is no typical family.
1. Until the last 50 years, the nuclear family was considered the modern family.
2. As families have become less traditional, the legal definition of a family has
become much more flexible.
3. The text defines family as any sexually expressive, parent-child, or other kin
relationship in which people—usually related by ancestry, marriage, or
adoption—form an economic unit and care for any children or other dependents;
consider their identity to be significantly attached to the group; and are
committed to maintaining that group over time.
E. “Family Decline” or “Family Change?”
1. A discussion on “Family Decline” or “Family Change” explores the debate as to
whether current changes in the family are positive or negative according to the
views of social scientists and researchers.
II. A Sociological Imagination: Personal Troubles and Some Social Conditions That Impact
A. Ever-New Biological and Communication Technologies
1. Assistive Reproduction Technologies involve the manipulation of sperm or egg or
both in the absence of sexual intercourse including: artificial insemination, donor
insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, egg sale or donation, embryo transfers.
2. Communication Technologies
1. Communication by cell phones, internet sites and GPS facilitate constant and
global access to children, parents and extended family.
2. Internet access causes family boundaries more permeable.
3. Reproductive possibilities broadened and complicate family possibilities.
B. Economic Uncertainty
1. Over the past 35 years, the inequality gap has increased.
2. The recent recession affected nearly all of America’s families.
3. Income, wealth, and poverty rates diverge by race/ethnicity, education, and parents’
C. Historical Periods and Events
1. The shift from an agricultural to industrial economy change family life irrevocably.
2. Historical periods also influence attitudes and values.
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D. Demographic Characteristics
1. Age: Life expectancy has increased dramatically and has had vast consequences for
2. Religion: Religious affiliation and practice is a significant influence on family life.
3. Race and Ethnicity: Although race is a social construction, there are very real
practices and outcomes associated with different races.
i. America is increasingly diverse ethnically due to immigration, refugees in
America, and higher fertility rates among racial and ethnic minorities.
ii. Transnational and binational families add to America’s diversity.
iii. Racial and ethnic stratification continues to exist.
E. Family Policy: A Family Impact Lens
1. Family policy involves all the procedures, regulations, attitudes, and goals of
programs and agencies, workplace, educational institutions, and government that
2. Political decisions regarding families should take a family impact lens approach.
III. The Freedom and Pressures of Choosing
A. The best personal decisions are made knowledgeably. Social pressures, beliefs,
and values influence personal decisions. People can and do influence society
through individual and group opinions and participation.
B. Personal Troubles, Societal Influences and Family Policy
1. Because personal troubles often reflect societal influences, people must
understand themselves in the context of the larger society.
2. Individual choices largely depend on the alternatives that exist in society.
3. Individual choices are influenced by the speed at which societal changes occur.
C. Social Influences and Personal Choices
1. Social factors limit choice options and make normative choices easier.
2. Sometimes, decisions are made by default.
3. Although social conditions limit choice options, conscious awareness of these
forces allow for more knowledgeable decision making.
D. Choosing by Default
1. People make decisions by default when they are not aware of all the alternatives
or they choose the easiest options (e.g., when spouses focus on career success
and neglect their family relationships, their decision is likely the result of
E. Choosing Knowledgeably
1. Choosing knowledgeably involves rational consideration of many alternatives
and the recognition of the social pressures that influence choices.
2. Knowledgeable decision making has respect for personal feelings and includes
regular testing of decisions against those feelings (as well as the changes in the
3. Today, adulthood is viewed as a time for continued personal development.
Contemporary adulthood can be described as a life spiral in which
individuals incorporate traditional and alternative roles and accommodate a
variety of lifestyle choices throughout their lifetimes.
IV. A Family of Individuals
Americans place a high value on the family. Family values such as family togetherness,
stability, and loyalty focus on the family as a whole. Placing family well-being over
individual interests and preferences is termed familism.
A. Families as a Place to Belong
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1. Families create a place to belong by creating both physical and psychological
boundaries between themselves and the rest of the world.
2. Families create a place of individual and communal identity, or family identity.
B. Familistic (Communal) Values and Individualistic (Self-Fulfillment) Values
1. Family members must negotiate balance between individual separateness and
2. Opposing values of familism (including togetherness and family loyalty) and
individualism create tensions within individuals, between individuals and within
society that must be resolved.
3. Shifts in the balance of individuality and familism have meant that family
members have become less predictable than in the past.
V. Marriage and Families: Four Themes
A. Personal decisions must be made throughout the life course.
B. People are influenced by the society around them.
C. Today’s society is characterized by increased economic, ethnic, and family diversity,
where increased tension exists between family and individual values.
D. Personal decision making feeds back into society and changes it.
I. Science: Transcending Personal Experience
1. Our beliefs about families based on our own personal experience may not tell the
whole story and may misrepresent the actual experiences of families.
2. The way to a clear understanding of all families is through scientific investigation
via scientific methods.
B. The Blinders of Personal Experience
1. We often assume our own family is “normal” or “typical.”
2. We often are highly committed to the view of family life that is shaped by our
C. Scientific Norms
1. Science is based on systematic observation and empirical evidence.
2. The scientific method can overcome researchers’ biases.
3. Scientists are expected to follow certain norms, including honesty.
II. Theoretical Perspectives on the Family
Theoretical perspectives or theories contain concepts that help identify and explain specific
aspects of family behavior. Theoretical perspectives or theories vary in what each may see as
important and significant about families.
A. The Family Ecology Perspective.
1. This perspective explains how a family influences and is influenced by the
environments that surround it.
2. This theory focuses on how government policies—as part of the socio-cultural
environment—affects families and how families can influence the environments
that affect them.
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