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Chapter 12: Marriage and Families

12.6 Test Your Knowledge

1. Family is defined in different ways by different people, both in the past and present. When you think of family, who do you include? Which of the definitions of family (traditional definition of family or functional definition of family) do you think your concept of family reflects? Why?

2. Explain the difference between bilateral and unilateral descent. Draw charts to contextualize your answers.

3. Family formation varies over time and across different societies today. Explain the differences between nuclear families and extended families. Based on information about family structure of the past and present, debunk the myth that nuclear, male-breadwinner families are the predominant family form.

4. One of the questions related to marriage is how many people are we allowed to marry? Explain the differences between and provide examples of monogamy, serial monogamy, polygamy, polygyny and polyandry. Which of these patterns is followed in the U.S. today? Why?

5. In addition to the number of marriage partners allowed, another question related to marriage is who are we allowed to marry (as defined by our cultural norms)? What is the difference between endogamy and exogamy? Which is more common in the U.S. today? How does this relate to homogamy and propinquity?

6. Considering the theoretical perspectives on the family institution, how does each – functional, conflict and interaction – perceive the role of family in society?

7. Outline at least five of the major marriage, divorce and other family patterns in the U.S. today? What has caused these trends?

8. While the U.S. has a high level of divorce compared to other high-income nations, Americans also have a high rate of marriage. Why is this? What are some of the benefits of marriage?

9. While family serves multiple functions for society, dysfunction also occurs within family. What are the rates and causes of intimate partner violence and child abuse in the U.S.?


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Exploring Our Social World: The Story of Us by Jean M. Ramirez; Suzanne Latham; Rudy G. Hernandez; and Alicia E. Juskewycz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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