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Major Trends in the Paradigm of Family Life Essay

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Updated: Mar 18th, 2021

Sociology of Family

One of the main characteristics of contemporary living in the fact that, as time goes on, more and more formerly legitimate socio-cultural conventions grow increasingly outdated – including the convention of how married couples are supposed to address their family-related/parental obligations (Parrenas 2010). In this paper, I will point out what can be considered the main trends/challenges, within the context of the paradigm of a family-living becoming increasingly adjusted with the discourse of post-modernity. The concerned trends/challenges can be outlined as follows:

The increased rate of divorce in Western countries

Even though the majority of married people in the West continues to subscribe to the classical provisions of what it means pursuing a marital relationship, this does not seem to have any effect on the phenomenon of the divorce rate in Western countries attaining an alarmingly rapid momentum (Stevenson and Wolfers 2007). The validity of this statement is best illustrated, in regards to the divorce-dynamics in the families, where both parents happened to be the representatives of racial minorities. For example, by the end of the 20th century, the rate of divorce among African-Americans has grown to as high, as 48% (Kposowa 1998). The reasons behind the above-mentioned phenomenon have been discussed from a variety of different perspectives, with the majority of sociologists believing that the legacy of racism in the U.S. is the main culprit, in this respect. Nevertheless, there is also an alternative explanation to the phenomenon in question – the reason why married African-Americans are much more likely to file for divorce, as compared to what it happened to be the case with Whites or Asian-Americans, for example, is that the factor of a gender-differentiation in Black families is not strongly defined.

The legalization of lesbigay marriages

Nowadays, it became a commonplace trend among legislators in Western countries to choose in favor of legalizing lesbigay marriages. Nevertheless, there is a good reason to think that, far from how the advocates of political correctness would like it to be, the legalization of this type of marriage can hardly prove beneficial to society’s overall well-being. After all, it is not only the same-sex couples cannot conceive children, by definition, but there is a certain rationale in believing that homosexuals and lesbians will not be able to act as thoroughly responsible foster-parents, as well. The reason behind this suggestion is quite apparent – while being raised by their lesbigay foster-parents, the adopted kids will be less likely to learn what accounts for the biologically predetermined social duties, on the part of the representatives of both sexes.

As Stacey and Biblarz noted, “Children of gay parents are more apt to suffer confusion over their gender and sexual identities” (2010: 415). Given the fact that, as it was implied earlier, people’s unawareness of what will account for their gender-related duties, as husbands and wives, is capable of reducing their chances to enjoy marital happiness, the suggestion that gays and lesbians should not be allowed to adopt children, does make a certain sense. Nevertheless, this suggestion cannot be thought of, as such that represents an undisputed truth-value. After all, along with the detrimental effects of the legalization of lesbigay marriages, within the context of how it may influence the affected children, there are also a number of those that can be considered generally positive. For example, it is commonly believed that, while exposed to lesbigay parenting, children will be more likely to grow into perceptually and cognitively tolerant adults (Downs and James 2006).

The fact that the very technological intensity of contemporary living creates objective preconditions for people to grow progressively less enthusiastic about the prospect of getting married

One of the main reasons why recent decades saw a sharp decline in the ratio of marriages in the West, is that nowadays, for just about anyone to have a chance of social advancement, he or she may never cease increasing the measure of its professional adequacy. In its turn, this situation has been predetermined by the fact that, due to the recently occurred breakthroughs in the field of informational technologies, it is specifically the technologically advanced professionals that can secure well-paid jobs for themselves. It is needless to mention, of course, that this results in more and more people with university diplomas choosing in favor of a career-advancement, as such that represents the foremost priority in their lives. Unfortunately, people’s commitment to addressing the concerned professional duties negatively relates to the measure of their willingness to start up a family. This explains why, as of today, it became a commonplace tendency, on the part of many highly paid professionals (who are predominantly White) in Western countries, to choose in favor of remaining single for the rest of their lives.

There is also another alarming trend, which appears to negatively affect people’s ability to pursue marital relationships. This trend is concerned with the fact that, as of now, many adults in Western countries become increasingly addicted to playing computer games/spending time on the Internet (Kendall 2011). Although in the formal sense of this word, the above-mentioned tendency, on the part of contemporary Westerners, does not have anything to do with their ability to lead a socially productive lifestyle, this is far from being the actual case. The reason for this is apparent – while spending the increased amounts of time in virtual reality, people grow emotionally detached from the surrounding physical reality, which in turn reduces the acuteness of their self-preservation instinct, in the evolutionary sense of this word. This, of course, results in these people beginning to perceive the very concept of marriage increasingly less appealing.

The earlier suggestion is consistent with one of the main ideas, promoted by Casper and Bianchi (2010) in their article, according to which, it is not only that the financial influence of grandparents on their children has grown dramatically in recent decades, but that the expansion of this influence will continue gaining an additional momentum in the future. This phenomenon has been interpreted from a variety of different perspectives. One of the theories, which explain why middle-aged people seem to become increasingly dependent on their grandparents, is that the representatives of every consequential generation end up being progressively more infantile, in the discursive sense of this word. In regards to the representatives of Generation X, for example, it will be safe to suggest that their ability to address even the most basic challenges of life is severely undermined (Kim 2011). Therefore, there is indeed nothing odd about the current trend, among the adult citizens, to adopt a rather light attitude towards their physiologically predetermined duty of marriage. This, of course, allows us to come up with a speculative suggestion that the factor of an evolutionary degeneration can be defined in terms of a metaphysical ground, out of which people’s current tendency to indulge in the different forms of a ‘marital escapism’ actually derives (Carrington 2010).

The decline of morality, within the context of how people take care of their parental responsibilities

As of now, many childless couples in Western countries enjoy the opportunity to be able to travel to just about any country in the Second or Third World, to be able to adopt a child there. Nevertheless, when analyzed closely, their desire to experience parenthood is not concerned with these people’s genuine willingness to make a difference in the world. Rather, it has to do with their unconscious anxiety to attain the state of being fully integrated with the currently predominant socio-cultural discourse. In other words, when in the process of adopting a child from abroad, many Westerners do it for the sake of considerations of fashion, on their part.

This explains why it is predominantly the ‘Aryan’- looking parentless babies, who attract the mentioned childless couples from the West the most (Kim 2010). What the latter suggestion means, is that the time-period of remaining in the state of perpetual immaturity, on the part of the concerned foster parents, overextends the point when they ended up married initially. This, of course, fully correlates with the earlier mentioned idea that there are indeed several good reasons to think that the current situation with how people think of the concept of marriage, in general, and of their marriage-related obligations, in particular, does reflect the much-anticipated decline of the West.

The above-provided line of argumentation, as to what are the most visible indications of the concept of marriage/parenting being in the state of a qualitative transformation, helps us to formulate the subjects of a family-related sociological inquiry in the future. In their turn, these subjects can be represented in the form of the following questions:

  1. What may be considered the socio-evolutionary significance of the process of more and more people deciding in favor of entering into same-sex marriages?
  2. What accounts for the full scope of the marriage-related effects, within the context of the newly emerged tendency, on the part of many Westerners, to become increasingly attracted to the virtual reality of the Internet?
  3. What will account for the societal consequences of the currently ongoing process of Western men growing increasingly effeminate, negatively reflected by the simultaneous process of Western women growing increasingly masculine?
  4. Is there a dialectical link between the particulars of one’s racial affiliation, on the one hand, and the concerned person’s likelihood to adopt a particular attitude, in regards to the notion of parenting, on the other? If such a link indeed exists, what kind of environmental and genetic factors may be at play, in this respect?

Annotated Bibliography

Carrington, Christopher. 2010. “No Place like Home: The Division of Labor in Lesbigay Families.” Pp. 679-692 in Shifting the Center: Understanding Contemporary Families. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

The main thesis, promoted throughout the entirety of Carrington’s article, is that how lesbigay couples address the challenges of shared domestic living, remain mystified to an extent. Among the foremost myths, concerned with lesbigay families, the author mentions the assumption that these families are egalitarian. Carrington explains the reasons why it could not possibly be the case.

Casper, Lynne, and Suzanne Bianchi. 2010. “Grandparenting.” Pp. 458-468 in Shifting the Center: Understanding Contemporary Families. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

In their article, Lynne and Bianchi advance the idea that the very process of the classical conventions of parenthood growing increasingly outdated, presupposes the eventual transformation of the notion of grandparenting, as well. While striving to substantiate the validity of their line of argumentation, in this respect, the authors point out the fact that, as compared to what it used to be the case in the past, today’s grandparents can spend much more time with their grandchildren and provide their adult children with the much-appreciated financial assistance.

Downs, Chris, and Steven James. 2006. “Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Foster Parents: Strengths and Challenges for the Child Welfare System.” Child Welfare 85 (2): 281-298.

This particular study by Downs and James is concerned with identifying the main qualitative aspects of how gay, lesbian, and bisexual foster parents go about raising their adopted children. After having been exposed to the study in question, readers get to learn that, contrary to what it is being commonly assumed, the attitudes of LGBT foster parents, in regards to what accounts for the essence of just about any person’s parental duties, do not differ much from the attitudes of their sexually conventional counterparts.

Kendall, Todd D. 2011. “The Relationship between Internet Access and Divorce Rate.” Journal of Family and Economic Issues 32 (3): 449-460.

In his study, Todd substantiates the validity of the idea that there is a positive correlation between the divorce rate in a particular country, on the one hand, and the measure of the concerned citizens’ addiction to the Internet, on the other.

Kim, Hyun S. 2011. “Consequences of Parental Divorce for Child Development.” American Sociological Review 76 (3): 487-511.

According to the author of this study, there are several detrimental effects on children’s normal development, as a result of their parents’ decision to file for divorce. The main of these effects, Kim mentions the fact that, as opposed to what it is being the case with their peers from two-parent families, those children that have had the experience of seeing their parents divorced, are much more likely to drop out of school.

Kim, Katherine F. 2010. “Out of Sorts: Adoption and (Un) Desirable Children.” Pp. 400-411 in Shifting the Center: Understanding Contemporary Families. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

In her article, Kim discusses the main trends, within the context of how people go adopting children. According to the author, the foremost trend, in this respect, is that when it comes to adoption, the majority of potential forest parents pay close attention to what happened the particulars of would-be-adopted children’s racial affiliation, while preferring to choose in favor of specifically blond and blue-eyed kids.

Kposowa, Augustine J. 1998. “The Impact of Race on Divorce in the United States.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 29 (3): 529-548.

In her study, Kposowa strives to explain the phenomenon of the divorce rate, associated with the African-American married couples, remaining disproportionally high. According to the author, the mentioned phenomenon is best explained by the legacy of racism in the U.S. and by the socially disadvantaged status of many African-Americans.

Parrenas, Rhacel S. 2010. “Mothering From a Distance: Emotions, Gender, and Intergenerational Relations in Filipino Transnational Families.” Pp. 291 – 301 in Shifting the Center: Understanding Contemporary Families. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

This article tackles the issue of many Philippian women, who live in the U.S. illegally, having no other choice but to try raising their Philippines-based children ‘remotely’, while spared of the opportunity to maintain close and personal contact with them. According to the author, the practice in question cannot be considered beneficial to the affected children’s well-being.

Stacey, Judith, and Timothy Biblarz. 2010. “(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” Pp. 412-430 in Shifting the Center: Understanding Contemporary Families. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

In their article, Stacey and Biblarz discuss the controversial aspects of how the sexual orientation of parents affects their children’s chances to advance in life. According to the authors, children who grow up in lesbigay families are likely to experience the sensation of confusion, while trying to form their gender-based identities. However, as compared to their conventionally brought up peers, these children are more like to embrace the virtue of tolerance.

Stevenson, Betsey, and Justin Wolfers. 2007. “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 21 (2): 27-52.

In her article, Stevenson promotes the idea that the very realities of post-industrial living predetermine the situation when, as of today, the concept of family undergoes a qualitative transformation. The author discusses what can be considered this transformation’s negative and positive effects.

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