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Social Factors in the Families Essay

Social Factors and Family ~ Social Class

Cherlin (2013) outlines the four-class model comprising upper-class families, middle-class families, working-class families, and lower-class families. Cherlin (2013) also says the three-status groups of people in the society comprise of college-educated, high school educated, and no high school-educated groups. In my assessment, the four-class model represents the best assessment of social classes in society.

The poverty limit is a measure of income that represents the product of the economy and family diet (multiplied by three) (Cherlin, 2013). People use the poverty line measure to assess the economic status of a population.

In 2010, the poverty rate for children of African American heritage was 37.4%; 34.1% for Hispanic children; and 12.5% for white children.

Family patterns have diverged for the well-educated and poorly educated people in the sense that single-parenthood has increased for the poor, while well-educated people have fewer children today (compared to the past).

Kin networks hurt the poor because they increase their levels of dependency on the breadwinner (Cherlin, 2013; McLanahan, 2009).

Marriage mentoring programs, divorce reduction programs, and school-based programs (aimed at teaching people the benefits of marriage) provide a few examples of programs that aimed to promote marriage.

Cherlin (2013) says that blue-collar Americans experience a significant decline in their rates of marriage, while white-collar Americans have stayed committed to traditional marriages. Cherlin (2013) also says blue-collar Americans prefer cohabiting relationships, while white-collar Americans live in traditional marriages.

Cherlin (2013) says education has been an important distinction of family experiences because it affects people’s perceptions of the right time to marry, when to have children, and what types of families to have.

Gerson & Jacobs (2004) argue that more educated people are working longer hours (compared to past years). This relationship suggests that many working people find themselves in a tight fix trying to distribute their time between work and home.

Gerson & Jacobs (2004) explain that most workers feel overburdened at work because of the work-home crunch. Mothers feel the same pressure as the duties of domestic work and childbearing increase. Fathers also experience the same pressure through increased involvement in household activities.

There is less flexibility between work and family functions for all the three classes of people in society.

Blank (2007) says disconnected women are single mothers who do not have work and welfare. Their disconnection is the lack of opportunities (that could fit their unique social circumstances) for gainful employment.

Blank (2007) proposes that disconnected women should enroll in temporary work waiver programs that would meet their unique social circumstances at work.

Income, educational levels, and lifestyle could measure social factors. These measures are the most significant indicators of social class. However, they are insufficient measures of social class because they do not measure social class individually.

Family background is similar to social class because both factors affect one’s social and economic outcomes.

Social capital and economic capital outline the different types of capital that emerge from families. These types of capital are important because they provide people with the resources they need to make it in life.

Most African American children live in single-parent families because there are low marriage rates within this racial group. There are more Hispanic children living in two-parent families because this racial group often accepts different types of social unions between men and women (Cherlin, 2013). Lastly, many white children live in two-parent families because of the high rates of marriage within this racial group.

Cherlin (2013) says that the relatively low levels of marriage among African-Americans stem from the lack of marriageable men among this racial group. The declining levels of marriage among African Americans also trace to the extensive power of extended family members over married couples.

Puerto Ricans and Mexican Hispanics tend to have a higher rate of consensual unions that are unrecognized by the government

The access (or lack thereof) of social capital has affected Asian Americans and Native American groups through the lack of access to employment opportunities

The emergence of the service sector and the increased growth of employment opportunities increased employment opportunities for African American women. These opportunities decreased the value of marriage among African American women.

The goal of providing for his/her family often occupies a migrant’s time, but children may fail to perceive the same process as gainful because they do not enjoy the company of their parents.

Lareau (2002) believes that race is important in the socialization of children, but the social class has a much more significant impact on children in this regard.

Concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growths are the two dominant parenting styles that distinguish the parental styles of different social classes (Lareau, 2002).

Middle-class parents often adopt the concerted cultivation style, which has significant advantages for their children, such as the acknowledgment of entitlement for families. The greatest drawback of this method is the emergence of conflict between children and parental wishes. The working class and poor parents often prefer the accomplishment of the natural growth style. The greatest drawback of this method is the loss of family entitlement. However, its biggest advantage is the provision of a “natural” environment for children to grow.

Personal racism traces to an individual’s sense of prejudice towards races, while structured racism relates to an institution’s prejudice towards certain races.

Social factors in the Family ~ Race/ethnicity and Immigrant Status

Different social factors like race, class, and gender affect family experiences through work experiences, schooling experiences, education, and marriage patterns (among other factors).

Cherlin (2013) says the role of grandparents in US families has changed from being passive to active members of the family, especially since most of them have to take care of their grandchildren when the parents are away.

Multigenerational ties are beneficial because they provide family support (especially for overworked parents). However, multigenerational ties may increase the level of family conflict (among its members).

The four predictions of family changes include longer shared lives, more involvement of extended family members in family duties, increased intergenerational solidarity, and increased diversity of multigenerational relations. The increased diversity of multigenerational relations is the hypothesis by Bengtson (2001).

Bengtson (2001) means that the fall of the pyramid structure symbolizes the harmonization of family duties across the age divide. Its implication on old age is the involvement of grandparents in parental duties.

Men may be susceptible to estranged old ages because they are not relational as women are. Indeed, women are more likely to seek social support than men do.

Fertility decline affects age structures because it shrinks the population of young people by maintaining the elderly population.

A bulging aging society limits the function of families as private entities because they do not provide the intimacy that most families enjoy. Moreover, since most elderly people do not have children, they limit the function of the family as a public good that provides and nurtures children


I believe the family is not in trouble. While many presentations in this course show significant discourses in family perceptions (Qian, 2005; Ridgeway, 1988), people have still maintained the traditional respect accorded to families and marriages.


Bengtson, V. (2001). Beyond the Nuclear Family: The Increasing Importance of Multigenerational Bonds. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(1), 1–16.

Blank, M. (2007). Improving the safety net for single mothers who face serious barriers to work. Future Child, 17(2), 183-97.

Cherlin, A. (2013). Public and Private Families: An Introduction (7th Ed). New York, US: McGraw-Hill.

Gerson, K., & Jacobs, J. (2004). The Work-Home Crunch. Contexts, 3(4), 29-37.

Lareau, A. (2002). Invisible Inequality: Social Class and Childrearing in Black Families and White Families. American Sociological Review, 67(5), 747-776.

McLanahan, S. (2009). Fragile Families and the Reproduction of Poverty. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 621(1), 111-131.

Qian, Z. (2005). Breaking the Last Taboo: Interracial Marriage in America. Contexts, 4(4), 33-37.

Ridgeway, C. (1988). Love in America: Gender and Self-development. Gender and Society, 2(3). 401-403.

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