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Family Structure and Interaction

Family Structure and Interaction: A Comparative Analysis

Copyright Date: 1982
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Family Structure and Interaction
    Book Description:

    Family Structure and Interaction was first published in 1974. The University of Minnesota Press issued a revised edition in 1982. This revised edition of Family Structure and Interaction makes available again in a textbook for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in family sociology; as a concise overview of comparative family studies, the book will also be a useful reference for professionals in related fields. Gary Lee’s objective is to apply the method of comparative sociology to the study of the family, integrating material from the fields of sociology and anthropology. The book is organized in three parts. The first discusses the nature and methodology of comparative sociology, emphasizing both its contribution to the development of explanatory social and behavioral theory, and the pitfalls one may encounter in the conduct and interpretation of comparative research. Part two takes up the application of the comparative method to the subject of family organization. Lee’s intent is not to describe family practices in any specific society but rather to explain why societies differ in many of these practices. The third part examines interactions between members of families and kinship systems, focussing on premarital and marital relations and parent-child relationships. In revising this text, Lee has taken into account the wealth of historical data published since the mid-seventies. He shows how historical and comparative research complement each other and points to the shared interests of social historians and comparative sociologists in the antecedents of change in family form and structure. Though he has not added new chapters to the second edition, each chapter is now a more comprehensive and thorough treatment of its subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5524-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)

    • Table of Contents
      (pp. xiii-xvi)
    • I Comparative Sociology: The Nature of the Discipline
      (pp. 3-16)

      In its earliest stages, sociology was almost by definition a comparative science. Family sociology, in particular, was based upon data from a variety of societies and cultures. The purpose in the initial endeavors was to discover characteristics of family behavior that were common to all mankind, transcending geographic and cultural boundaries. But while the objectives of the early family scholars were ambitious, their methods left a great deal to be desired when judged by modern standards.

      These early reports were macroscopic in scope, covering great sweeps of social space and social time, comparing marriage, kinship, and socialization patterns in several...

    • II Methodological Issues in Comparative Research
      (pp. 17-48)

      There are no fundamental differences in principles or logic between cross-system and within-system research (Frey 1970:183). There are, however, numerous differences in the ease with which basic research strategies may be implemented. The methods of comparative research are the same as those of any form of systematic social inquiry, but the problems encountered in the process of doing it differ in degree if not in kind.

      The discussion of problems and pitfalls in comparative research that follows is certainly not sufficient to prepare the reader to handle these difficulties in his or her own research. There are currently available many...


    • III The Family: Origins and University
      (pp. 51-72)

      The task of this chapter is to investigate cross-cultural uniformities in the structure of the family. We will ask two theoretically relevant questions about family structures. First, how did they originate? Second, do all societies have some institution or structure that we may reasonably call “the family,” and, if so, what do these structures have in common?

      The first question, that of origins, has attracted less attention of late than it did in the earlier years of the development of anthropology. It is almost inherently a question that can never be fully answered, because it has a data base that...

    • IV Structural Variety in Marriage
      (pp. 73-106)

      Marital systems are components of family systems. Analyses of marital and familial structures cannot proceed entirely independently of one another, because they have important reciprocal effects. The question of the sources of variation in marital structure, however, is to an extent theoretically independent of the issue of sources of variation in family structure. Explanations of cross-cultural variability in these two phenomena are, in other words, somewhat different, and thus the questions merit separate attention. We will deal in this chapter with the structure of marriage, after a few remarks about the relationships between marital and familial institutions.

      For our purposes...

    • V Variation in Family Structure
      (pp. 107-140)

      The central objective of this chapter is to review and synthesize attempts to explain cross-systemic variation in family structure. But, before attacking the question of the sources of variation, we must define the variable of interest and the values it may take. This issue proves to be rather a perplexing one.

      Petersen (1969) has remarked that, in research on family and kin-group structure, there is great variability across researchers and studies in the conceptualization and measurement of the dependent variable. This is understandable, since the requisite definitions are of the nominal variety (see Chapter III , p.69) and there is...

    • VI Kinship Structure
      (pp. 141-170)

      Of all chapters in this book, this one is clearly the most introductory. While it is not the case that the study of kinship is more complex or advanced than other branches of the social sciences, it is nonetheless true that there is a vast amount of material available to the student of kinship. The data are extensive, the perspectives employed by scholars in the area are extremely diverse, and the terminologies are often quite complex.¹ We will not pretend here to give the field full coverage (which would be impossible even in an entire volume on the subject), but...


    • VII Premarital Relationships
      (pp. 173-207)

      If anything, Udry is understating the case here. Love and marriage are so highly intertwined in modern American culture that it is difficult for many people to conceive of any motivation for marriage except love. It comes as a considerable shock to many students to find that the cultural concepts of love and marriage were not associated until relatively recently in Western history. In fact, the anthropologist Ralph Linton once argued that American society is virtually unique in making love a prerequisite and basis for marriage.

      All societies recognize that there are occasional violent, emotional attachments between persons of opposite...

    • VIII The Marital Relationship
      (pp. 208-245)

      The issue of socially defined behavioral differences between men and women has been of almost continuous concern to us since our discussion of the origins of the family in Chapter III. As D’Andrade (1966) and others have argued, the direct implications for behavior of primary physiological sex differences are probably rather limited. Human beings have a propensity to generalize stimuli, however, to classify and organize cognitions in consistent ways. Thus, as we have seen, sex differences as socially defined and prescribed are at the root of much variation in family structure, kinship structure, and premarital sexual behavior. There are remarkable...

    • IX Socialization alues and Socioeconomic Status
      (pp. 246-286)

      Socialization of children has long been regarded as one of the primary functions of the family, and it has often been considered to be the defining functional characteristic of family structures (see Chapter III, pp.66-67). While it is not always the case that biological parents are responsible for all aspects of the care and training of their offspring (recall the cases of the matrilineal Nayar and the children’s houses in the Israeli kibbutz), it does appear that, in virtually all societies, at least one adult of each sex is involved in both the care of children and the socialization process...

  8. References
    (pp. 287-318)
  9. Author Index
    (pp. 319-326)
  10. Subject Index
    (pp. 327-332)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 333-333)