SOC 2500 Marriage and Family
Exam 3 Study Questions

  1. Discuss trends in divorce rates in the U.S. from the late 1800's to the present. What might explain these trends? Are these trends good or bad? Explain your answer.
  2. Who is more likely to initially seek divorce, husbands or wives? Why is this the case? What are the most common reasons wives give for seeking a divorce? What about husbands? What does this say about the argument that divorce rates are high because people today are more self-centered and individualistic?
  3. Discuss the financial and emotional impact of divorce, highlighting differences for men and women. Are men or women more likely to remarry after divorce? Explain your answer.
  4. What is the impact of divorce on children? Do you agree with the statement that, on the average, children in intact families do better on almost all measures than children of divorce? Explain your answer.
  5. What is "divorce culture" and how does it differ from "marriage culture?" How has the presence of divorce culture altered the experience of marriage?
  6. Discuss the diverse family forms that exist in contemporary American culture.  Which family forms are most prevalent?  Which are least?  Which forms have become more common in the last 30 years of so?  Which have become less common?  What does such diversity suggest about efforts to describe the typical or normal American family? 
  7. Identify and discuss some of the factors that lead to greater diversity in American families.  Do you see families becoming more or less diverse in the future?
  8. Discuss some of the issues specific to step or blended families.  What are some of the unique problems faced by such families? How are step families similar to and different from single-parent families? Why has there not been more research or policy debate focused on step families?
  9. How common is violence in American families?  Are American families more or less violent than families in other developed countries?  What are some of the factors account for the violence in American families?
  10. Discuss some of the different types of abuse that occurs in American families.  What types of abuse are most common?  Who does most of the abusing?  Does the type and severity of abuse vary depending on who is abusing whom?  How can these patterns be explained?

  11. What are some of the characteristics associated with abuse in American families?  In other words, what factors are associated with abuse or what types of families are most violent and abusive?  How can these patterns be explained?

  12. Is it ever acceptable to hit a child?  Is all corporal punishment abusive?  How would Murray Straus answer these questions?

  13. Does America have an explicit family policy?  Why or why not?  Discuss the the competing family ideologies that dominate contemporary debates over family policy.  Who tends to hold these competing views of family?  Discuss these competing views as they relate to (1) homosexual marriage, (2) single-parent families, (3) impoverished children, (4) rising divorce rates, and (5) family decline.

  14. Discuss the following statement:  "American public policy tends to emphasize the individual to the exclusion of the family, community, and society."  In what ways does our public policy emphasize the individual?  What impact does this individualist orientation have on family policy?

  15. In American public policy, who is seen as responsible for welfare of citizens?  The citizens themselves?  Their families?  Their communities?  The government?  How do liberals (democrats) and conservatives (republicans) tend to differ on this issue?  How does this affect family policy?

  16. Discuss the following statement:  "American public policy has tended to be selective, targeting "needy" populations?"   How has our policy been selective?  What needy populations have been targeted and what are some the programs that target them?  Are such targeted policies good or bad?  Explain your answer?

  17. Do the elderly receive a disproportionate share of federal resources?  Do children receive too little?  What age groups receive the least support from our government?  Is this "generational inequity" a problem?  What are some possible solutions to the generational inequity in our public policy?