Summary of Shirley Hill’s Work
Shirley Hill in the work “The Politics of Theorizing African American Families” focuses on the discussion of the African American scholarship related to the topic of African American families regarding their structural and cultural features. Hill discusses the topic within the theoretical and political context, paying much attention to the previous researches on the problem. The main questions asked by the author in the work are the role of slavery and racial oppression to influence the aspects of the African American family’s progress in the sociological perspective; the effects of the civil rights movement on the discussion of the African American family today; and the discussion of these families as inferior in comparison with the white people’s families.
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The main points presented by the author in the text are the ideas that a complex of such factors as racism and slavery could affect the structure and characteristics of the African American families and question of equality and social opportunities.
However, these effects can also be discussed in the cultural context, thus, the African American families differ from the white families not only because of differences in cultures and visions but also because of the fact of destroying values and structures during the period of slavery and following periods of the social oppression and discrimination. The author’s conclusions are based on the developed scholarship on the topic and the other researchers’ findings.
To discuss the topic of the African American families’ structure and development from the historical perspective, it is important to refer to such significant sociological concepts related to the theme of family as the inferiority of definite families, conformism regarding the family standards and principles, and the role of culture and values to form the vision of a family within a certain community. Hill discusses these concepts with references to the possible reintegration of the African American families to conform to the ideals of US society today. There are different family standards with references to races and cultures, and it is an inappropriate approach to emphasize the necessity of adaptation to the social standards typical for the definite culture while ignoring the other cultures and visions of family.
Questions to Discuss
- Is it possible to agree that African American families are inferior in comparison with white people’s families?
- How can you analyze the role of slavery and racial oppression in the progress of modern African American families?