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Diversity in family life

Diversity in family life: Gender, relationships and social change

Elisabetta Ruspini
Copyright Date: 2013
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  • Book Info
    Diversity in family life
    Book Description:

    As new forms of family and 'non-traditional' families grow in number, there is a need to understand these 'new' arrangements and models of parenthood. This ground-breaking book discusses, using a comparative and a sociological perspective, examples of the relationship between changing gender identities and processes of family formation in the Western experience. It aims to show that, in the 21st century, it is possible to form a family without sex, without children, without a shared home, without a partner, without a working husband, without a heterosexual orientation or without a 'biological' sexual body. Diversity in family life will help readers discover and understand the characteristics, advantages and drawbacks of these new models of parenthood, and their political implications in terms of social movements, characteristics and demands.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0094-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Gender, family and social change: from modernity to the Millennial generation
    (pp. 1-28)

    This volume provides a road map through the challenges of family diversity and family change in Western societies. Family forms, what it means to be a member of a family and the expectations people have of family relationships vary with time and space. As we will shortly see, today, marriage and family relationships are formed and maintained in an environment of greater choice in how women and men can live their lives than has been possible for past generations. Following Beck (1992), choices are made in a world that no longer has universal certainties, risks and fixed models of life....

  5. Section One: Gender change and challenges to intimacy and sexual relations

    • CHAPTER ONE Asexual women and men: living without sex
      (pp. 31-44)

      Our first chapter is devoted to asexuality. This may appear a weird choice, as the relationship between asexuality and children is not obvious. However, in our opinion, children and marriage are not choices determined by sexual orientation. As we will shortly see, asexual people are as capable of experiencing love and becoming parents as anyone else.

      What is asexuality? Is it a dysfunction, an orientation or a choice? How many people define themselves as ‘asexual’? Can asexual people have a relationship and a family? Can asexual people be (‘good’) parents? What has asexuality to do with families?

      It is not...

    • CHAPTER TWO Childfree women and men: living without children
      (pp. 45-60)

      The termchildfreedescribes women and men who have made a personal decision not to have children. Childfree people define themselves as:

      adults who all share at least one common desire: we do not wish to have children of our own. We are teachers, doctors, business owners, authors, computer experts – you name it. We choose to call ourselves ‘childfree’ rather than ‘childless’, because we feel the term ‘childless’ implies that we’re missing something we want – and we aren’t.¹

      As we will see later on, the choice to remain childfree is growing: more and more women and men are...

    • CHAPTER THREE Couples together yet apart: ‘I love you but do not want to live with you’
      (pp. 61-74)

      Aliving apart together(LAT) relationship describes a couple, of the same or different gender, who live together but do not share the same home. That is, the term refers to couples, heterosexual or homosexual, married or not, who have an ongoing self-defined couple relationship without cohabiting (Trost, 1998). Partners living in LAT relationships have one household each.

      Levin (2004) has suggested that the dual-residence aspect of LAT couples distinguishes them from a commuting (or commuter) marriage,¹ where there is one main household and a second residence that is used when one partner is away. Distance also demarcates LATs from...

  6. Section Two: Gender change and challenges to traditional forms of parenthood

    • CHAPTER FOUR Stay-at-home husbands and fathers
      (pp. 77-92)

      Astay-at-home husband(also ‘househusband’) may be defined as a husband that chooses to stay at home instead of working at a career. Astay-at-home father(alternatively, ‘stay-at-home dad’, ‘house dad’, ‘house-spouse’) is a term used to describe a father who is the main carer of the children and is the homemaker of the household.

      As we will see in the next section, the number of househusbands and stay-at-home fathers has been gradually increasing, especially in Western nations. Although the role is still subject to many gender stereotypes,¹ and men may have difficulties accessing parenting benefits, communities and services targeted...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Lone mothers and lone fathers
      (pp. 93-116)

      The chapter will reflect upon forms and characteristics of lone parenting (also lone parenthood) in Western nations. A lone-parent family usually comprises an adult (a woman or a man) living without a partner and with one or more (dependent) children. The parent not living with a spouse or partner has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children. As we will see later on, the last three decades of the 20th century saw a marked increase in the number of lone mothers and fathers and in the interest in this population by social science researchers. Today, lone...

    • CHAPTER SIX Homosexual and trans parents
      (pp. 117-132)

      In this chapter, we examine a selection of research findings on the characteristics, advantages and drawbacks of homosexual and transgender parenting experiences. The phenomenon ofhomosexual parenting(alsohomo-parenthood¹ – a term that includes all those families in which at least one adult who defines him/herself as homosexual is the parent of at least one child (Nadaud, 2002; Gross, 2003) – has for some time now been an emerging reality in many Western societies, above all following the growing visibility of homosexual mothers living with their partners and their children. Homosexual parenting must be observed from several angles. We must...

  7. CONCLUSIONS: What can we learn?
    (pp. 133-140)

    The aim of this book has been to show that it is now becoming possible to live, love and form a family without sex, without children, without a shared home, without a (male or female) partner, without a working husband, without a heterosexual orientation and without a ‘biological’ sexual body. As we have seen, the presence of the Millennial generation and the Web 2.0 culture and environment greatly helps.

    The force of the Millennials, the positive qualities of young people who have grown up in a globalised, changing and reflexive world, has overturned many commonplaces and stereotypes (Greenberg and Weber,...

  8. Glossary of key concepts
    (pp. 141-156)
  9. Index
    (pp. 157-164)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 165-165)