Type: Analysis
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How are an individual’s personal experiences and ideals affected by objective considerations of family life?

Many demographers have described the family as a basic unit of society since time immemorial. This, however, is not entirely true. According to Baca Zinn, the family is not a mere block through which the society is established but, rather, a product of cultural and social forces that exist in the environment. As such, society greatly affects the general behaviors of all kindred in it. By extension, the family then checks the behaviors of all its members. Consequently, persons in each family are influenced to behave in such a way that the family “approves”.

This means that personal desires are not freely perused. This is because one has to check the family’s stand on such desires before indulging in them. Since of this influence, personal ideals and the affected experiences are tailored from a tender age for suiting the society. Hence, people end up emulating and finally adapting what the society deems fit at the price of their own preferences. It is, however, paramount to understand that this familial and societal influence is not entirely negative (Zinn et al., 2011).

What are the three images of U.S. family that your author discusses and why are these images reflective of cultural ideals?

The author discusses three images as being the most representative of the United States’ family setup. These three are as discussed below.

  • Family as a haven. Here, the author argues that a family is a unit of peace, comfort and love to all its members. Zinn states the family is the immediate step where children are shown love and protection by their parents before society sets in. According to the author, this image emerged before industrialization.
  • Family as a fulfillment. Here, the researcher points out that after the emergence of industrialization, parents shifted their love and care to compensatory services. He claims that the family strives to satisfy themselves mutually, especially in situations where external help is not viable.
  • Family as an encumbrance. The author points out that with time, compensatory care gives way to a situation where the demands of family life are viewed as inhibiting and unwelcome. Such demands may include childbearing and spending time with them, which limits time to nature a career.

These American families’ images are culturally motivated because they all portray a family as a unit that seeks to grow and survive in a tough society (Zinn et al., 2011).

How do social historians gather data about families of the past?

The best tool that social historians use to collect data on the past families is by use of social-cultural evolution of kinship from the pre-industrial age to the contemporary times. This provides the best tool because the family unit has a universal role in both ancient and modern society. Furthermore, research has shown that family units have the capacity to adapt to ecological and even economical changes. Therefore, this essay seeks to understand how historians gather information on past families by contrasting the colonial and modern emerging families.  Specifically, it describes that the pointed professionals examine how the past and emerging family interacts with the economic and social issues facing their respective households.

This comparative study shows that the emerging family has changed both in economic and social structure. For instance, in colonial times, the economic structure was kindred based and production was influenced by family consumption. Social issues like childbearing and family upbringing were communal. In addition, many children were born. The land was community property, too. Marriages were arranged to suit economical benefits other than romance. Labor was apportioned based on gender and age. Women were mainly homemakers. In contrast, the emerging family subscribes to a specialized production generally motivated by profit-making. Socially, fewer children are born and family is a private affair while marriages are based on romance. Labor is based on qualification, a fact that has seen women take up employment.

Although these differences are wide, studies show that the modern family greatly borrows from the colonial one. For example, social historians, through family reconstitution were able to prove that the nuclear form of family existed in colonial times. Concerning family life, women are employed and have respect from their husbands yet. These similarities have aided social historians in collecting information on the past family.

How did industrialization in the U.S. change family life?

Sweeping changes came in the wake of the industrial revolution. The simple all-inclusive family life was transformed into a private entity hidden from the wider society. Industrialization led to the creation of a middle class that consisted of factory managers and merchants. A wife’s new role in this class was to be a homemaker. She was to concern herself with social reproduction at home while the husband dealt with social production. This phenomenon came to be known as the cult of true womanhood. It was believed at the time that women were delicate and easily overcome by temptations. They were called upon to be pious, pure and submissive to their husbands. This, however, did not work out as women took up employment positions along their husbands to supplement the family’s budget.

Although families were nuclear-oriented, difficult situations called for extra-ordinary measures. Families took up strangers who were looking for employment into their families during economically tough moments. The rationale behind this was to boost the family’s earnings. Such strangers were called borders and always went back to their nuclear units when better days dawned. Social historians refer to this phenomenon as the accordion households.

What roles have families performed for immigrants to the U.S.? How did the experience of European immigrants differ from families of Mexican immigrants?

The industrial expansion in America in the early 19th century led to a big need for immigrant labor. This encouraged massive immigration to America, mainly from Europe. This process was heightened by industrial expulsion in Europe at the time. Families played a bigger role in immigration to America by encouraging their family members to “chain-migrate” with them. Those who settled first aided new immigrants to secure industrial jobs. Although Immigrant labor was crucial to the American industries, non-white immigrants were only employed in the agricultural sector as plantation workers. Industrial jobs were only available to the European immigrants.

At the conclusion of the Mexico-American war, many Mexicans became foreigners in their own lands. They were subjected to new laws that were alien to them. The new environment was too harsh to them. Unlike their European counterparts, the Mexicans were not eligible to industrial jobs. To cushion themselves, the Mexicans adopted a system of god parenting to help New Mexican immigrants. This mode of parenting came to be known as compadrazgo.

According to social historians and family researchers, how did slavery impact African American families?

Slavery led to the forceful separation of many black families during sale to white families. This separation was repeated if two slaves got married. This is because the whites did not approve of slave marriages. Male slaves were denied a chance to freely express themselves in public. Labor devolution was gender-based, men slaves worked in plantations while women were caretakers. Their main duties were to tend to children-both of their masters’ and fellow slaves. In the face of these persecuting conditions, black slaves learned to look out for themselves. They formed close kinship networks to further their course. Through these networks, they formed secret yet permanent unions since marriage was prohibited.

What the social construction of intimacy and contemporary marriages was? How are class, gender and race related to courtship, dating and mate selection?

Social construction of intimacy was plain and simple in the pre-industrial age. This changed drastically after the onset of industrialization. Social stratification complicated intimacy matters. Henceforth, one’s choice of a partner was to be greatly influenced by class gender and race. Before industrialization, American population was generally made up of whites. Therefore, race was not much of an issue during courtship and marriage. Arrival of immigrants and the consequent classing of the society brought with it close parental supervision in courtship and mate choice. The extent of supervision was highest in the noble class and this dropped with every class. The peasant class had no supervision at all.

In modern times, this parental supervision has been eroded. Young people are free to choose their own dates, though, there is still some parental advice. People’s choice of who to date, court or marry depends on their own real perceptions and personal preferences. More often than never, these perceptions are not based on class or social status. However, it is prudent to note that financial stability and appealing behaviors are the most sought desirable traits in the contemporary world.

Since women have taken up careers, the marriage age has been drastically raised. Consequently, most women get married at an advanced age while others simply give up on the idea. They instead opt for cohabitation and single parenting. In addition, the rate of divorce is high as people are too busy with career-building to be bogged down by the demanding nature of family life. 

What social, economic, and demographic changes in the U.S. had an effect on the “sexual revolution”?

The industrial revolution came with social, economic, and demographic changes. As expected, these changes instigated some radical effects that have defined America to date. Perhaps the greatest change was the sexual revolution, which sought to bring gender equality in American society. The socio-economic and demographic changes that led to this revolution include;

Increase of female workforce. By early 19th century, the women workforce had risen by more than 50%. This was made possible by the fact that women, whether married or not, were eligible for employment at this time. The expansion of service oriented industries made a ready market for these women who would later demand for better working conditions.

The decline in real earnings in the contemporary American economy has lead many women to take up job placements to merge the family incomes. This women labor participation has grown enough to demand a level play ground with male counterparts, hence the sexual revolution. Desire by women to gain self-fulfillment also contributed to the indicated phenomenon. Female workforce has realized that being employed gives them status in the society.

How does gender affect ideas about sex and about love in current U.S. society?

Men and women have differing approaches to sexual and love issues. Although this is debatable in contemporary America, men are more outspoken than women on sex and love. It is a general belief that the man has to ask a woman out while she has to show some interest but manage the situation. Whereas it is imperative that a girl keeps a close look at her beauty, the man needs only to support an average level of smartness. With matters of the heart, women are known to love whole-heartedly at the shortest of notice. More so, she will take a relatively longer period to erase her feelings as compared to a man. In addition, women are more reserved when it comes to intimacy. This is in contrast with the man’s tendency to open up with the slightest show of interest from a woman. 

How have the macro influences of law, religion and gender expectations influenced marriage in U.S. society?

The law protects marriages. At the same time, people’s freedom to belong to a religion is guaranteed in the Constitution. Arising from this fact, both the religious and legal institutions have come up with parameters to assure that both fundamental freedoms are safeguarded. From this, the laws that are put in place protect both divides. For example, the law prohibits bigotry, but, at the same time, provides an avenue for redress. Abortion is only allowed in a situation where the mother’s life is in danger. In this regard, the macro influences of the law, religion and gender work mutually to protect the dignity of marriages in the contemporary American society. However, there are cases where teenagers secure abortion on the excuse that their lives are in danger as provided for in the Constitution. Such cases are, fortunately scarce.

What social factors affect the distribution of power in marriages?

A marriage may be defined as a social contract by two people who have mutual interest, usual love. Law protects this agreement and each partner has a role to play in protecting it. The partners have equal rights in the union. However, this equality is challenged by the traditional belief that the man is the head of the family. As such, the man seeks to raise himself and become the authority that holds the power in the marriage. Consequently, economic power and decision-making is unlawfully retained by the husband. Antagonizing social issues like this should be discouraged.

What are current immigration trends in the U.S. and what are some variations of adaption for immigrants? How does immigration change family patterns?

Immigrant trends in the U. S. have had a paradigm shift after the dropping of the prohibitive quota system of the 60s. The immigrant base is no longer European-oriented. Currently, 90% of all immigrants in America are non-white. Immigrants have settled all over the country, with California recording the highest number of the ones. Slavery has long been abolished and these immigrants are leading respectable lives.

Given their growing numbers, immigrants are significantly changing family patterns. They have led to the erosion of their ethnicity as they are assimilated into the American system. Interracial marriages are rising by day, and with it a new ethnicity is taking shape in the name of black Americans. The consequence of this is a wider demographic base and increased diversity as America ceases being firmly embedded in western culture and embraces three ethnic minorities in the names of Africans, Latinos and Asians.

What are the challenges for families in societies that have a growing proportion of their population over the age of 65?

Families in societies that have a growing proportion of their population over the age of 65 are high to face adverse economic implications. To start with, such families will be under immense pressure to bear more children at all costs to gap the difference. The other option would be to increase the level of immigration to avoid a looming disaster of dry supply of labor force. While this may sound easy, the thought of a foreigner handling the internal affairs will definitely not auger well with the natives. The other challenge would be footing the pension bills of that aged population. This limits expenditure on development projects like infrastructure and service delivery. Immature teaching of new technologies to fresh young people as fate may need is expensive.

How are gender, class, and race /ethnicity connected to child abuse?

Child abuse takes many forms. It can be child trafficking, child prostitution, introducing them to drugs, using them to sell the drugs, or lack of parental love and concern. Young girls are usually victims of child prostitution and trafficking. This, however, can happen to the boys, too. Thus, there exists no clear evidence connecting child abuse to either gender, class, or race since any child can be abused.

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