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The Contemporary American Family
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The Contemporary American Family
A Dialectical Perspective on Communication and Relationships



© 2003 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"I find the book extremely attractive. The dialectical perspective provides a consistent avenue from which to address the diversity (structural, cultural, developmental, and functional) in Contemporary American Families. Whereas this perspective does not claim to solve the tensions in families, it offers marvelous insights into the nature and changing diversities in families. I believe this text is particularly well suited for reasonable discussion of serious issues and provides valuable insights into the nature of families and their functioning."

--Vince Bloom, California State University, Fresno

"Teresa Chandler Sabourin invites students to appreciate the mystery, complexity, and diversity of the contemporary American family. Resisting simplistic descriptions and normative descriptions, Sabourin challenges us to open our minds and hearts to the rich, humane variety of family connections as we search for ways to accommodate the competing demands and conflicting pressures experienced in our most cherished relationships. Starting from the source of her own experience, Sabourin addresses both the darker, abusive side of family relationships, as well as the lighter, spiritual side of intimacy and love. The Contemporary American Family successfully addresses the need for an accessible and teachable treatment of the dialectical perspective on close relationships. This is a book that will encourage students of family communication to respect diversity, question taken-for-granted assumptions, and share the pain and joy and of their own family experiences."

--Art Bochner, University of South Florida

Increasingly diverse in structure and culture, contemporary families defy explanation by many traditional, linear methods. In order to understand the enormous impact that diversity has on the behaviors and relationships within the family, scholars and students need a means to embrace, rather than solve, relational contradictions.

The Contemporary American Family: A Dialectical Perspective on Communication and Relationships recognizes that families are both close and distant, stable and changing, amenable and uncontrollable. Teresa Chandler Sabourin employs a dialectical approach, acknowledging that a family's contradictions and relational tensions may be the determining factor in its interaction. Writing in a direct and simple style, Sabourin uses this innovative theoretical position to address four types of family diversity: structural, cultural, developmental, and functional.

Sure to stimulate discussion and further research, this provocative volume examines

    • The dialectic process in the context of family communication and relationships
    • The redefined, more inclusive American family
    • Contemporary family structures
    • Cultural diversity in the family
    • Issues such as alcoholism, domestic violence, and divorce
    • Spirituality within the family

Designed as a supplemental text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in Family Communication, The Contemporary American Family is also an invaluable resource for students in Family Studies and Women's Studies courses.

 
Acknowledgements
 
Preface
 
Chapter 1: A Dialectical Approach to Family
Conceptual tools  
Basic concepts  
Dialectical management patterns  
Interface of culture patterns  
Dialectical classifications  
 
Chapter 2: Defining the Contemporary Family
Defining family  
Criteria for defining family  
 
Chapter 3: Structural Diversity
Contemporary family structures  
Nuclear family  
Single parent family  
Blended family  
 
Chapter 4: Cultural Diversity
Cultural diversity in the family  
Religion and family culture  
Diversity in sexual orientation  
Racial and ethnic diversity  
 
Chapter 5: Developmental Diversity
Approaches to development  
The family life cycle approach  
The learning approach  
A dialectical approach  
 
Chapter 6: Functional Diversity
Functional diversity and the family  
The impact of alcoholism on the family  
Domestic violence  
The dark side of divorce  
 
Chapter 7: Family Spirituality
Bringing light into darkness  
A spiritual approach  
12-Step programs  
 
References

I find the book extremely attractive. The dialectical perspective provides a consistent avenue from which to address the diversity (structural, cultural, developmental, and functional) in Contemporary American Families. Whereas this perspective does not claim to solve the tensions in families, it offers marvelous insights into the nature and changing diversities in families. I believe this text is particularly well suited for reasonable discussion of serious issues and provides valuable insights into the nature of families and their functioning.

Vince Bloom
California State University, Fresno

"Teresa Chandler Sabourin invites students to appreciate the mystery, complexity, and diversity of the contemporary American family. Resisting simplistic descriptions and normative descriptions, Sabourin challenges us to open our minds and hearts to the rich, humane variety of family connections as we search for ways to accommodate the competing demands and conflicting pressures experienced in our most cherished relationships. Starting from the source of her own experience, Sabourin addresses both the darker, abusive side of family relationships, as well as the lighter, spiritual side of intimacy and love. The Contemporary American Family successfully addresses the need for an accessible and teachable treatment of the dialectical perspective on close relationships. This is a book that will encourage students of family communication to respect diversity, question taken-for-granted assumptions, and share the pain and joy and of their own family experiences."

Art Bochner
University of South Florida
Key features
  • Approaches family diversity as the norm not as a variation on the "traditional" family.
  • Gives substance to issues otherwise treated as minor considerations in existing books in the field, such as spirituality within the family
  • Addresses four types of family diversity: structural, cultural, developmental, and functional
  • Written in a direct and simple style

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ISBN: 9780761924463
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ISBN: 9780761924456
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