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Family Structure and Dynamics

A family provides the prime economic and social support structure for children as they evolve from childhood to adulthood. However, the early formative years of families has critically transitioned to a new family structure and dynamics, in which Sociologist views the transcendental phenomenon from the so-called “traditional and nuclear family”. The family function as a social unit reflects the dynamism of society in a varied and adverse family living. This paper will discuss the sociological perceptions of family structure and dynamics in the contemporary societal condition.

Divorce rate and issues The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) has documented the statistical data of divorce rate and studied the critical factors on the results. According to NCHS 2005 statistical data, about 3. 6 percent of every 1,000 population from the 46 States in America has documented the divorce rate from 1990 to 2004. The data also reflected the 7. 5 percent rate of marriage for every 1,000 population of the same year of documentation.

Although NCHS has not accessed the statistical figure of separation of family heads, it could be indicated from the remaining 3. 9 percent of the overall total of 7. 5 percent. In quantitative and hypothetical analysis on the statistical figure, the 3. 9 percent could indicate the NCHS sampling of data on 2,230,000 marriages in 2005 that represents about 86,970 families with (assumed) complicated family structural living. In an earlier hypothesis, it is even believed that a growing divorce rate of about 50 percent (from the marriage population sampling) has currently reached (Kotlowitz, 2002).

The progress of the indicated data could be deduced from the prevalence of divorce as reported by Divorce Magazine web site. To cite, the year 2004 has accounted the highest reported divorce rate on specified States, such as Nevada at 6. 4 (per 1,000), Arkansas with a divorce rate of 6. 3, Wyoming at 5. 3. Meanwhile, the lowest divorce rate was accounted in District of Columbia at 1. 7, Massachusetts at 2. 2 and Pennsylvania at 2. 5 (Divorce Magazine. Com, 2008) A study conducted by the US-based Institute for Research and Poverty (IRP) has cited that issues on divorce concerns “macro” and “micro” aspects.

The macro aspect refers to “societal” factors, such as (1) Changing social institutions, (2) Low social integration, (3) Changing gender roles, (4) Cultural values, and (5) Technology. On the other hand, the micro aspect refers to “interpersonal” factors, such as (1) Unrealistic expectations, (2) Conflict and Abuse, (3) Infidelity, and (4) Communication problems (Bohannon, 1971; in Corbett, 1997). Social response In 2002, President Bush proposed the passing of Compassionate Welfare Reform Bill as “a comprehensive plan to strengthen families and support welfare recipient’s work toward independence and self-reliance” (The White House, 2002).

It was the US Department of Health and Human Services mandated to formulate the program, such as to cite (2) Help welfare recipients to achieve independence through work, (2) Increase the welfare-to-work resources available for families, (3) Protect children and strengthen families, (4) Empower welfare recipients through innovative resolution to achieve independence (The White House, 2002). The plan on working toward independence envisions actualizing the US state policy on Welfare Reform Law of 1996 that aims to improve family responsibility by developing employment opportunities, reduce non-marital births and strengthen the marital values.

The Bush welfare program would also collaborate with various organizations to institutionalize the efforts of renewing American family values, in which more of “societal factors” (macro) correlates in the divorce phenomena and being considered as a pervasive social influence, in which exemplified by poverty as a primary cause of social anxieties leading to divorce. Marriage movement The marriage movement of conservative American families is not only concerned on the prevalence of divorce but likewise the emerging family structure of unmarried families.

As cited, the statistical figure of 8. 1 percent represents every 1,000 married couples (Divorce Magazine. Com, 2008). To cite, a study conducted by Diana Zuckerman from the National Research Center for Women and Families (NRCWF) concluded on the finding that the main political objective of welfare reform is to revolutionize the “culture of welfare” from one that supposedly encouraged non-marital pregnancy and discourages employment to one that uphold marriage, work, and customary family living arrangements (Zuckerman, 2000).

Zuckerman’s finding points out to the early marriages [within conservative families] that ends up to early divorce, rather than the unmarried couples that continue to nurture their children as a “family”. In which case, the encouragement for early marriage [by upholding the traditional marital value] affects employment opportunities, specifically when couples are pre-occupied in attending the family and being discourage to continue their education due to time constraints or overtaken by events.

According to Zuckerman, the family orientation in unmarried couples should not be singled out by the traditional marriage movement but regarded as a family structure and provided with social welfare pertaining to the dynamics of interaction (especially of children) in the society, wherein the “social identity” is one of welfare concern that must be addressed for unmarried families. Strengths and weaknesses of families In Lloyd D. Newel’s electronic magazine, ‘Traditions: A Foundations for Strong Families’, features the genre of traditional family structures from various cultures.

In brief, Newel concluded that cultural heritage is one of family values that ties the bond and kinship of a family, as quoted by Newel, “tradition allows families to examine themselves and their customs”. Newel emphasized the finding that family tradition is helpful in preserving the family ties, status, and stability of generation. To cite, the strength of traditional family structure creates the dynamic values, such as adjustments in the community and winning the family situation across the generations (Newel, 1999). In contrast, the contemporary families in a new social setting are vulnerable to weaknesses.

One of the considerable weaknesses is the migration of families from their ancestral domain in search of family living. The migration of family heads for employment separates the “physical” interaction from the family culture, in which the effect of weakness is basically attributed to the socio-behavioral development of children. As cited, the “commonplace” of a family is patterned by social and economic security that is described as achieving the family’s social status by concentrating on material acquisition and only extends “virtual communication” to the children (Lundberg, 2005)

It may be then perceived that strength and weakness in the family relies in the socio-cultural and economic performance, situation and circumstance. In contrast, the adversities of family living are social indicators in determining the strength and weakness of family structure and its dynamics. Sociological point of view and conclusion The institutional social empowerment could be a deliberate sociological point of view on how families and marriages be supported in a society.

The proposed Compassionate Welfare Reform Bill could be more effectively implemented by enacting the basic “social reform agenda” in creating employment opportunities, optimal social services for the displaced persons (women, children and elderly), strengthening of the family code in accordance of family-related violations, legislative reform on the application for divorce or legal and extrajudicial separation. However, the institutional social empowerment could be defeated by the emerging global factors of cultural assimilation.

The growing interracial marriages are a transnational issue in the contemporary genre of family structure, dynamics and societal interactions. It is not only the traditional culture that bears the “tradition” of heritage but becoming a cross-cultural configuration. The hierarchy of families separates from the individual cultural identities. In conclusion, global social empowerment could achieve an ultimate impact to limit the migration of families, improve socio-economic living conditions, settle political or armed conflict and alleviate poverty.

Thus, could only be achieved adherent to family-oriented governance that dynamically interacts with the endangered family structures of strong family values. References Corbett, T. (1997). ‘Informing the Welfare Debate: Perspectives on the Transformation of Social Policy’. Retrieved 04 July 2008 from http://www. irp. wisc. edu/publications/sr/pdfs/sr70. pdf.

Divorce Magazine. Com (2008). ‘US Divorce Statistics’. Retrieved 04 July 2008 from http://www. divorcemag. com/statistics/statsUS. shtml. Kotlowitz, A. (2008). ‘Are the Conservatives Right? ’. Retrieved 04 July 2008 from http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/marriage/etc/notebook. html. Lundberg, J. (2005). ‘US Civilization’s Weakness Evident in Family Trends’. Retrieved 04 July 2008 from http://www. culturechange. org/e-letter-15cont. html. NCHS (2005). ‘Marriage and Divorce Statistic’. Retrieved 04 July 2008 from http://www. cdc. gov/nchs/fastats/divorce. htm Newel. L. D. (1999).

‘Traditions: A Foundation for Strong Families’. Retrieved 04 July 2008 from http://marriageandfamilies. byu. edu/issues/1999/December/traditions. aspx The White House (2002). ‘Working Toward Independence’. Retrieved 04 2008 from http://www. whitehouse. gov/news/releases/2002/02/welfare-reform-announcement-book. pdf. Zuckerman, D. (2000). ‘Introduction: Welfare Reform Preliminary Research and Unanswered Questions’. Retrieved 04 July 2008 from http://www. center4research. org/poverty2. html.

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