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We use cookies and other tracking technologies to provide services in line with the preferences you reveal while browsing the Website to show personalize content and targetedanalyze site traffic, and understand where our audience is coming from in order to improve your browsing experience on our Website. Mrutyuanjai Mishra is a commentator with Politiken, Denmark's largest newspaper. He also comments on Asia on Danish TV and radio channels.


For example, between andnearly half of heterosexual women 48 percent ages fifteen to forty-four said they were not married to their spouse or partner when they first lived with them.

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The Pew Research Center reports that the of unmarried couples who live together, has grown from fewer than one million in the s to 8. Of the 18 million, 8. In what ways are our responses shaped by society, culture, and socialization? Family is a key social institution in all societies, which makes it a cultural universal. Similarly, values and norms surrounding marriage are found all over the world in every culture, so marriage and family are both cultural universals. Statuses i. While marriage and family have historically been closely linked in U. Sociologists are interested in the relationship between the institution of marriage and the institution of family because families are the most basic social unit upon which society is built but also because marriage and family are linked to other social institutions such as the economy, government, and religion.

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So what is a family? F amily is a socially recognized group usually ed by blood, marriage, cohabitation, or adoption that forms an emotional connection and serves as an economic unit of society.

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Sociologists identify different types of families based on how one enters into them. A family of orientation refers to the family into which a person is born. A family of procreation describes one that is formed through marriage. These distinctions have cultural ificance related to issues of lineage. Marriage is a legally recognized social contract between two people, traditionally based on a sexual relationship and implying a permanence of the union. Marriage is a cultural universal, and like family, it takes many forms.

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Who gets married, what the marriage means to the couple and to the society, why people get married i. Other variations on the definition of marriage might include whether spouses are of opposite sexes or the same sex and how one of the traditional expectations of marriage to produce children is understood today.

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Figure 1. The modern concept of family is far more encompassing than in past decades, which is evidenced in both laws formal norms and social control both formal and informal.

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The sociological understanding of what constitutes a family can be explained by the sociological paradigms of symbolic interactionism as well as functionalism. These two theories indicate that families are groups in which participants view themselves as family members and act accordingly. In other words, families are groups in which people come together to form a strong primary group connection and maintain emotional ties to one another. Such families may include groups of close friends or teammates. Figure 2. Family dynamics have shifted ificantly in the past sixty years, with fewer children living in two-parent households.

In addition, the functionalist perspective views families as groups that perform vital roles for society—both internally for the family itself and externally for society as a whole.

Marriage and family

Parents care for and socialize children. Later in life, adult children often care for elderly parents.

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Irrespective of what form a family takes, it forms a basic social unit upon which societies are based, and can reflect other societal changes. For example, the bar graph shows how much the family structure has changed in a relatively short period of time. What trends do you see in the bar graph? What variables might help explain the increase in single parents between and and ?

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Which theoretical perspectives can help explain this phenomenon? The study also revealed that 60 percent of U. Census Bureau While this definition can be used as a means to consistently track family-related patterns over several years, it excludes individuals such as cohabitating unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples. It is also very important to society. While the de of the family may have changed in recent years, the fundamentals of emotional closeness and support are still present.

Most responders to the Pew survey stated that their family today is at least as close 45 percent or closer 40 percent than the family with which they grew up Pew Research Center. Figure 3.

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First families. When former U. His parents separated when he was young and he was raised by his white mother. Michelle Obama, originally from the south side of Chicago, was educated at Princeton and Harvard, then held a prestigious position at the University of Chicago, which she left once her husband was elected President of the United States.

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The former first coupled married in and have two children who were born in and He was married and divorced twice and had four children three with Ivanka Trump and one with Marla Maples before marrying current First Lady Melania Trump and having a fourth child, Barron Trump. Three marriages and five children make the First Family quite unique in U.

Presidential history. As discussed in the section, single parenting and cohabitationwhich is when a couple shares a residence but not a marriage, are becoming more prevalent and socially acceptable. We also see declining rates of marriage and individuals marrying much later in life with 30 years old as the median age for men and 28 years old for women inaccording to the U. Census Bureau.

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People may be less motivated to get married. Historically, marriage has served a variety of functions—financial, political, biological i. The institution of marriage is likely to continue, but some patterns of marriage will become outdated as new patterns emerge.

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In this context, cohabitation contributes to the phenomenon of people getting married for the first time at a later age than was typical in earlier generations Glezer People in the United States typically equate marriage with monogamywhen someone is married to only one person at a time. In many countries and cultures around the world, however, having one spouse is not the only form of marriage.

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A recent article by Thobejane and Flora [4] provides an updated view on polygamyor being married to more than one person at a time. Instances of polygamy are almost exclusively in the form of polygyny. Polygyny refers to a man being married to more than one woman at the same time. The reverse, when a woman is married to more than one man at the same time, is called polyandry.

The reasons for the overwhelming prevalence of polygamous societies are varied but they often include issues of population growth, religious ideologies, and social status.

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While the majority of societies accept polygyny, the majority of people do not practice it. Often fewer than 10 percent and no more than 25—35 percent of men in polygamous cultures have more than one wife; these husbands are often older, wealthy, high-status men Altman and Ginat The average plural marriage involves no more than three wives. Negev Bedouin men in Israel, for example, typically have two wives, although it is acceptable to have up to four Griver As urbanization increases in these cultures, polygamy is likely to decrease as a result of greater access to mass media, technology, and education Altman and Ginat In the United States, polygamy is considered by most to be socially unacceptable and it is illegal.

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The act of entering into marriage while still married to another person is referred to as bigamy and is considered a felony in most states. No one knows how many Muslims in the U. Courtship is the traditional dating period before engagement and marriage or long term commitment if marriage is not allowed.

During a courtship, a couple or group gets to know each other and decides if there will be an engagement. Courting includes activities such as dating where couples or groups go together for some activity e. Courting can also take place without personal contact, especially with modern technology. Virtual dating, chatting on-line, sending text messages, conversing over the telephone, instant messaging, writing letters, and sending gifts are all modern forms of courting.

Courtship varies both by time period and by region of the world. One way courtship varies is in the duration; courting can take days or years.

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While the date is fairly casual in most European-influenced cultures, in some traditional societies, courtship is a highly structured activity, with very specific formal rules. In some societies, the parents or community propose potential partners, and then allow limited dating to determine whether the parties are suited in fact, this was common in the U. In more closed societies, courtship is virtually eliminated altogether by the practice of arranged marriages, where partners are chosen for young people, typically by their parents or in the absence of parents local authorities.

Forbidding experimental and serial courtship and sanctioning only arranged matches is partly a means of guarding the chastity of young people and partly a matter of furthering family interests, which in such cultures may be considered more important than individual romantic preferences.

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