of the Family
by Steven L. Nock
To discuss the family in a sociological way is to consider the most profound of all the influences on who we are and what we do. The family into which we are born and those in which we live as adults shape us from birth to death. They are the immediate cause of our best and worst times. Our families define a reality that is an intimate bond linking kin in ways unlike any other association and are the primary influence in our lives.
The centrality of family affairs is obvious in our lives. Just as evident is the sociological significance of the famly for individuals and the society in which they live. I believe that it is necessary to study the family as part of society in order to understand it. Problems of families are not simply family problems. Divorce, for example, is not simply a family problem.
A faithful sociological treatment of the family places it centrally in the larger society in which it is found. Divorce, for example, is not a problem isolated in the family, though it may originate there. It is also a legal and an economic issue.
The organization of this book reflects the organization of the sociology of the family course I teach. I believe it worthwhile to spend ample time on the history of our contemporary family system. Ancient family history, as a result, receives much less attention. In fact, this book is mainly about families since colonial times in America. I realize that cross-cultural examples catch students' imaginations. However, that often comes at the cost of superficial and artifical portrayals of cultural practices divorced from a larger culture of which they are a part. I do not deny it is fascinating to read about domestic practices widely different from our own. Such topics are considered at length in the second chapter of this book. But I also believe it best to concentrate within a single society - thereby minimizing the problem one always has when only fragments of some complex society are described. Therefore, I concentrate on families in the American context.
More books by Steven L. Nock
in Men's Lives
Measuring Social Judgements: The Factorial Survey Approach
The Costs of Privacy-Surveillance & Reputation in America
Introduction to Sociology - Third Edition
The Sociology of Public Issues
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