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Sociology 102 Marriage in America

  • Date Submitted: 04/19/2010 06:48 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 44.1 
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Marriage is defined as the social institution under which a man and a woman establish their decision to live as a husband and wife by a legal and religious commitment. It was stereotypically known to consist of a father who works outside the home and a mother who cares for the children. As time has progressed, this image has changed to include extended families, step parents and divorce. The social norms are shaped around the changing society, but the government still stands to promote that original view of marriage. In the article entitled “Should the Government Promote Marriage?” by Andrew J. Cherlin, he provides evidence to support the changing views and digs deeper into the debate over the possible effects. It becomes clear through support from the functionalist and conflict perspectives that the government’s program will not bring marginal benefits, and in turn the social norms are part of a stronger society.
Despite the drastic changes in a short period of time, marriage is still seen as an ideal life style; according to studies that claim over ninety percent of people are married in America. (Sullivan 63) However, it cannot be denied, that the view of the family structure has changed. The functionalist theory on the family demonstrated a six part structure to describe the role of the social institution of family in society. These functions include regulation of sexual behavior and reproduction, socialization and education, status conferral, economic activity, protection, and affection and companionship. (Sullivan 59) More recently the family and society have undergone changes due to industrialization, leading to the dominant nuclear family that thrives in an industrial society but alternative way to fulfill these duties are also developing. Single mothers can work outside the home and make an income and contribute to society, just like any other nuclear family. The functionalist perspective also supports that the changes have led to the weaker institution...


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