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Understanding Families

Understanding Families
A Global Introduction

December 2011 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Families are at the core of our society. Our experience of them affects many aspects of our everyday lives shaping our expectations and future plans.

Written by field experts this clear, engaging book adopts a global perspective to usefully examine how modern families can be explored and understood. Packed with critical pedagogy, including case-studies, think points, key words and a glossary, it guides students through topics such as relationships, sexualities and paid and unpaid work.

The book also:

  • Applies key social theories from classical sociological theory and contemporary analysis
  • Examines best practice for researching families and family life
  • Explores the role of government policies and practices

This comprehensive introduction to the study of families and relationships is a timely resource for students and lecturers working across the social sciences.

Structures, Processes and Strategies  
Family or Families?  
Families in History  
The Families We Live With, The Families We Live By  
The Contents of the Book  
Explore Further  
Families and Relationships
Families: A Constant State of Flux  
Continuities and Presumptions  
Structures: Identifying and Talking About Families  
Defining Families 1: Common Characteristics  
Defining Families 2: Values, Memories and Spaces and Places  
Statistical Trends and Family Structures  
Processes: Families, Kinship and Activities  
Global Families  
Topic 1. The Impact of Welfare Regimes on Families: France, the Russian Federation, East and West Germany  
Topic 2: Ideal and Actual Families in Asia  
Explore Further  
Explaining Families
Sociological Explanations: Premise and Origins  
Ideology and Theory: What Is This Thing 'the Family'?  
Sociological Theory  
Ties that Bind: Making Sense of Structures  
Families as a Framework: Parsons  
Socialization: Merton  
Actors and Actions: Theories of Interaction  
Interactions: Goffman  
Structures and Practices: Giddens and Wallace  
Theories of Conflict  
The 'Lifeworld' of Families: Habermas  
Women, Men, Gender: Feminist Perspectives  
Feminist and Gender: Perspectives on Families  
Global Dimensions  
Contemporary Voices on Intimacy  
Explore Further  
Researching Families
Research Methods  
Survey Research  
Writing About People and Families: Ethnographic Research Methods  
Secondary Analysis of Research Studies  
Historical Research on Families  
Approaches to the History of the Family  
Better Times for Families?  
Documenting Change in Family Processes  
Family and Sex 1900-2000  
Private Troubles and Public Issues  
Researching Change and Continuity  
Solo Living  
Talking About Sex  
Single Parenting  
Explore Further  
Politics, Policies and Practices
Policies and Families' Forms and Functions  
Family Policy - New Kid on the Block?  
How do Policies Deliver Benefits to Families?  
Policy Approaches to Different Family Forms  
Evidence-Based Policy  
Families in Action  
Families and Social Cohesion  
Families and Social Breakdown  
Beyond Stereotypes  
Families and the Welfare State  
The Relationship Between Politics and Policies  
Services and Practices  
Types of Services  
Explore Further  
Relationships and Sexualities
Lets Get Together: Marriage, Cohabitation  
Universality of Marriage and Partnering  
Definition of Partnering - How do People Partner?  
Diversity in Partnering Arrangements  
Same-Sex Couples and Families  
Children Raised by Same-Sex Couples  
Moving Apart: Breakdown and Divorce  
Why do Relationships Break Down?  
What Changes After Divorce and What Stays the Same?  
Being Together and Living Apart: Solo Living, Friendships and Social Networks  
'Coupleness' Outside of Cohabitation  
Why else do people Live Alone?  
Beyond the Family - Friendships  
Social Networks  
Communities and Neighbourhoods  
The Effects of Neighbourhoods and Communities on Families  
Sexualized Societies  
Enduring Relationships: Generating Histories  
Enduring Intimacy  
Explore Further  
Families and Work
Defining and Explaining Work  
Underemployment and Unemployment  
Boundaries: Paid and Unpaid Work  
The Global Context  
Survival and Longevity: The Challenge to Work  
Decent Work and Rural Employment  
Relationships and Resources  
Acquiring and Allocating Resources  
Gender and Resources  
Unpaid Work  
Gender Roles and Unpaid Work  
Quantifying and Valuing Unpaid Work  
Vital but Subordinate  
Family Practices and Work  
Policy, Politics and Families  
Explaining Preferences and Choices  
Migrant Domestic Workers  
Explore Further  
Families into the Future
Trends and Futures  
Working Patterns, Gender and Care  
Demography: Fertility, Life Expectancy and Care  
Relationship Formation  
The Impact of Technologies on Families  
Commonalities and Differences across the Globe  
Beliefs and Behaviours  
Sustainable Families?  
The Importance of Childcare  
Shaping Politics and Policy  
Addressing Family Fragility  
Same-Sex Relationships and Assisted Reproduction  
Explore Further  

A reasonable text that helps to contextualise the changing nature of famlies

Neill Redmond
Primary and Intermmediate Care, King's College London
November 27, 2013

Good background reading for the module I am teaching in Children and Families

Ms Debbie Amas
Family and Community Studies (Peterborough), Anglia Ruskin University
August 16, 2013

I enjoyed the layout of this book and the indicators to prompt students to cross reference different issues. This is useful for first year UG students to encourage more evaluation and reflection in their work. Good overall coverage of the main issues (particularly the inclusion of feminist theory and links to research and policy. I would have liked to see the section on public/ private issues clearly indicate the issuesa around domestic violence and abuse and child abuse relating to the taboo still here and myths around strangers rather than familial abuse still being pushed through the media etc..

Miss Debbie Thackray
Social Work (Didsbury), Manchester Metropolitan University
July 23, 2013

This is an excellent book that provides up-to-date information and analysis of families in a global context. It explores topics that are very relevant to a wide range of students interested in working with children and families within theoretical frameworks.

Ms Andrea Collins
Faculty of Education, University of St Mark & St John
June 18, 2013

This book is a very comprehensive overview of many of the issues relating to families. It covers research into families, family policy and wider political ideologies that impact upon the family. Relationships within families is explored and work life balance. It is a very reader friendly volume also.

Dr Katie Cagney
Department of Applied Arts, Waterford Institute of Technology
April 20, 2013

In a swiftly changing world where disadvantaged families are increasingly finding services difficult to access, this book provides a very accessible text that facilitates increased understanding of the issues families face and the contexts in which we are working.

Ms Angela Hilton
School of Education, Wolverhampton University
April 7, 2013

A well constructed book that encourages reflective learning. I particularly liked chapter 3 that placed research methods in the context of families which most students will be able to relate to.

Rosemary Willers
School of Health, Science and Social Care, University Campus Suffolk
February 28, 2013

A book that is particularly relevant for those practitioners both in health and social care who work with families in a supportive and caring capacity

Ms Mary Scott
Dept Health & So, Glasgow Caledonian University
February 13, 2013

This book is very useful and provides a good introduction to the focus of working with families and communities. I was pleased that it took an international perspective as this will also be useful for student who are studying comparative education in their final year.
The library has bought copies of the text and it is referenced throughout the course

Ms Louise Gilbert
Early Childhood Studies, University of Gloucestershire
November 18, 2012

Ch 7 Families into the Future is useful supplementary reading to help students anticipate the effects of changes in families.

Mr Martin Harmer
Please select your department, Please select your institution
October 24, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters


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