Culture

Sociology of Family: Theory Overview

Symbolic interaction looks at how people interact with one another and communicate with symbols and gestures. Families are seen as a unity of interacting personalities, with each member having a social role. Over time, our interactions and relationships define the nature of our family and our identities emerge from the interplay between our unique selves and our social roles.

Social exchange theory examines actions and relationships in terms of costs and benefits.We undertake exchanges—many of them unconscious—to maximize rewards and minimize costs; in interpersonal relationships, resources, rewards, and costs are likely to be things like love, companionship, status, and power rather than tangibles like money. Participants have to see exchanges as fair and equitable in order for the relationship to endure. These exchanges can be cooperative or competitive, and they take on a long-term character in marriage and family relationships. Continue reading

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Culture

Sociology of Family: Applying Theories of Family

I will apply three theories of family to my family experiences for analysis. The three I’ve chosen are symbolic interaction, social exchange and structural functionalism. My immediate (nuclear) family is made up of six people. First there is my mother, Arlene. Next my stepfather, Melvin, who my mom married when I was seven (four years after my father passed away in an accident). Then there are four children—I am the oldest, followed by Heather and Matthew. Erin is the youngest and is also our half-sister. My immediate family members all live in North Carolina; therefore for the purposes of this essay I will also consider my boyfriend Brian as part of my family and our relationship and interactions as a part of this analysis. Continue reading

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