Changes, Choices, and Constraints
Marriages and Families offers students a comprehensive introduction to many issues facing families in the twenty- first century.
The text's major theme "Changes, Choices, and Constraints" explores:
Contemporary changes in families and their structure
Impacts on the choices that are available to family members
Constraints that often limit our choices
Through this approach, students are better able to understand what the research and statistics mean for themselves! Marriages and Families balances theoretical and empirical discussions with practical examples and applications. It highlights important contemporary changes in society and the family. This text is written from a sociological perspective and incorporates material from other disciplines: history, economics, social work, psychology, law, biology, medicine, family studies, women's studies, and anthropology.
More about the themes:
Examines how recent profound structural and attitudinal changes affect family forms, interpersonal relationships, and raising children. It reaches beyond the traditional discussions to explore racial-ethnic families, single-parent families and gay families as well as the recent scholarship by and about men, fathers, and grandfathers. Contemporary American marriages and families vary greatly in structure, dynamics, and cultural heritage. Thus, discussions of gender roles, social class, race, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation are integrated throughout this book. To further strengthen students understanding of the growing diversity among today's families, the author included a series of boxes that focus on families from many cultures.
On the individual level, family members have many more choices today than ever before. People feel freer to postpone marriage, to cohabit, or to raise children as single parents. As a result, household forms vary greatly, ranging from commuter marriages to those in which several generations live together under the same roof.
Although family members choices are more varied today, we also face greater macro- level constraints. Our options are increasingly limited, for example, by government policies. Economic changes often shape family life and not vice versa. Political and legal institutions also have a major impact on most families in tax laws, welfare reform, and even in defining what a family is. Because laws, public policies, and religious groups affect our everyday lives, the author has framed many discussions of individual choices within the larger picture of the institutional constraints that limit our choices.
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Nijole V. Benokraitis, professor emerita of sociology at the University of Baltimore, taught the marriage and family course for almost 25 years. It was her favorite class but her courses in racial and ethnic relations and gender roles ran a close second. Professor Benokraitis received a B.A. in sociology and English from Emmanuel College in Boston, an M.A. in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.
She was a strong proponent of applied sociology and required her students to enhance their knowledge through interviews, direct observation, and other hands-on learning methods. She also enlisted her students in community service activities such as tutoring and mentoring inner-city high school students, writing to government officials and other decision makers about specific social problems, and volunteering research services to nonprofit organizations.
Professor Benokraitis immigrated to the United States from Lithuania with her family after World War II as a political refugee when she was five years old. She is bilingual and bicultural and is very empathetic of students who must balance the demands of several cultural worlds.
She has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited ten books, including Seeing Ourselves: Classic, Contemporary, and Cross-Cultural Readings in Sociology, Contemporary Ethnic Families in the United States: Characteristics, Variations, and Dynamics; Feuds about Families: Conservative, Centrist, Liberal, and Feminist Perspectives; and Modern Sexism: and Blatant, Subtle, and Covert Discrimination. Dr. Benokraitis has published numerous articles and book chapters on topics such as institutional racism, discrimination against women in government and higher education, fathers in two-earner families, displaced homemakers, and family policy.
She has received grants and fellowships from many institutions, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the Ford Foundation, the American Educational Research Association, the Administration on Aging, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has also served as a consultant in the areas of sex and race discrimination to women’s commissions, business groups, colleges and universities, federal government programs, and the American Association of University Women’s International Fellowships Program.
Dr. Benokraitis has made several appearances on radio and television shows on gender communication differences and single-sex educational institutions. She currently serves on the editorial board of Women & Criminal Justice and reviews manuscripts for several academic journals.
Professor Benokraitis lives in Maryland with her husband, Dr. Vitalius Benokraitis, a vice president at a technology assessment company. They have two adult children, Gema and Andrius.
The author looks forward (and always responds) to comments on the 7th edition of Marriages and Families: Changes, Choices, and Constraints. She can be reached at email@example.com.
I liked this book, because I feel it is very readable and understandable, especially for freshmen or non-majors. In addition, Benokraitis gives very detailed and relevant examples or scenarios relating to the concepts covered in the respectable chapter. The book is extremely interesting and enjoyable.Moshe Braunstein Jersey City University
Very current and extremely informative about the family, both historically and in contemporary society. I also think that the author has a way of writing about the material so that the content is provocative and the issues really come alive for the reader.
Prof. Kathryn Bonach
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
I think this is one of the most “teachable” texts I have read on this subject. Even if the instructor doesn’t think of a question a student may want to ask, the author has already done that for us in the “since you asked” section. I like the current trends in research that are discussed as well. It lends credibility to the instructor to know about current things in the field and the author has done a good job of incorporating that in the chapters.
Prof. Michelle Knoles
Cowley County Community College
This is an engaging text. Benokraitis has achieved an admirable goal — her text is interesting and detailed but not dry, fun and applied but still academically strong. Very well done.
Prof. Erica Owens Yeager
West Virginia University
I found the text easy to read and very interesting. The examples are timely and up to date. Students can remember these events and that will help them make connections between real-world events and course material. The graphics and pictures are excellent [and] will help students comprehend an often difficult and abstract topic of theory for them.
Prof. Darby Sewell
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
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