Marriages & Families: Changes, Choices and Constraints (8e) : 9780205918195

Marriages & Families: Changes, Choices and Constraints (8e)

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Pearson Higher Ed USA
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Marriages and Families: Changes, Choices, and Constraints, offers students a comprehensive introduction to many issues facing families in the twenty-first century. The author explores contemporary changes in families and their structure, impacts on the choices available to family members, and constraints that often limit our choices. This approach will help readers better understand the families in which they were raised and are forming themselves. With the most up-to-date material and emerging issues on family behavior, students will be able to  make better decisions in their everyday lives.


Table of contents
  • Part I: Marriage and the Family in Perspective
  • Chapter 1: The Changing Family
  • Chapter 2: Studying the Family
  • Chapter 3: The Family in Historical Perspective
  • Chapter 4: Racial and Ethnic Families: Strengths and Stresses
  • Part II: The Individual and the Developing Relationship
  • Chapter 5: Socialization and Gender Roles
  • Chapter 6: Love and Loving Relationships
  • Chapter 7: Sexuality and Sexual Expression Throughout Life
  • Part III: Individual and Marital Commitments
  • Chapter 8: Choosing Others: Dating and Mate Selection
  • Chapter 9: Singlehood, Cohabitation, Civil Unions, and Other Options
  • Chapter 10: Marriage and Communication in Intimate Relationships
  • Part IV: Parents and Children
  • Chapter 11: To Be or Not to Be A Parent: More Choices, More Constraints
  • Chapter 12: Raising Children: Promises and Pitfalls
  • Part V: Conflicts and Crises
  • Chapter 13: The Economy and Family Life
  • Chapter 14: Domestic Violence and Other Family Health Issues
  • Chapter 15: Separation, Divorce, Remarriage, and Stepfamilies
  • Part VI: Changes and Transitions
  • Chapter 16: Families in Later Life
New to this edition

Chapter-by-Chapter Changes:


Chapter 1:

  • Updates the demographic changes that characterize  U.S. families,  how technology affects families, the impact of popular culture, myths about the family, and growing ethnic diversity
  • Offers  new material on polygyny in other societies

 Chapter 2:

  • Updates material on online surveys,  evaluation research,  and scientific  dishonesty
  • Presents a new discussion on content  analysis, 2010  census  strengths and limitations, social desirability bias, and introduces the concepts probability and nonprobability samples

Chapter 3:

  • Expands and updates the section on “The Family Since the 1960s”

 Chapter 4:

  • Updates the material on immigration, social   class, health and economic well-being, and the model minority
  • Offers  new data on the foreign-born population, Arab Americans,  the prevalence of interracial/interethnic marriages, and introduces the concept of colorism
  • A new feature (“The Changing Face of the Midwest”) examines how recent immigrants are revitalizing many small towns

Chapter 5:

  • Includes  new material on  gender stereotypes,  and  science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors
  • Updates the analysis of global male violence, gender inequality across cultures, socialization, and gender roles at home and in the workplace, politics, education, and religion
  • Introduces three new  concepts: gender ideology, gender script, and role model
  • Two new features are presented: “Should Children’s Toys be Gender Neutral?” and Male Violence: The World’s Worst Countries to be a Woman”

Chapter 6:

  • Updates the material on biological perspective of love, exchange theory of  love, jealousy, love in long-term relationships, and love in other cultures
  • Includes  new  material on  Facebook friends,  narcissism,  stalking, and cyberstalking

Chapter 7:

  • Updates the discussion of sexual scripts, girls’ hypersexualization, female genital mutilation/cutting, casual sex, societal reactions to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people (LGBTs), sex throughout life, sexual infidelity, and socially transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Provides new  data on Kinsey’s sexuality continuum, the “sexy babes” trend, early puberty and sex, Supreme Court decision on violent video games, LGBT prevalence, sex during the middle and later years, and why many parents don’t talk about sex
  • A new feature is provided: “What are Some of the Myths about Sex and Sexual Response?”

Chapter 8:

  • Provides recent data on traditional dating, hooking up, mail-order brides, online dating, speed dating, mate selection across cultures, arranged marriages, and breaking up
  • Has new discussions of stayovers, attitudes about romance  and interracial marriage, changes in black–white dating behavior, demographic characteristics of dating violence, how technology facilitates date violence, and interfaith, interracial, and interethnic marriages

 Chapter 9:

  • Updates the discussion of civil unions, states  where same-sex marriages are legal, gives insights into why more Americans are living alone and why young people are postponing marriage
  • Updates the material on who cohabits, why,  and the  benefits and costs of cohabitation

Chapter 10:

  • Provides a current discussion  of why marriage rates  are falling, prenuptial  agreements, same-sex marriages, how marriage affects health, what couples fight about, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage
  • Offers  new data on marriage  by race and ethnicity,  what purchases spouses hide, and the negative effects of communication problems
  • Introduces the concept validation
  • A new feature is presented: “Are Diamond Engagement Rings Losing Their Shine?”

Chapter 11:

  • Updates the material on what it costs to raise a child, U.S. and global birthrates, nonmarital childbearing, why birth rates have decreased, reasons for infertility, why people are postponing parenthood, domestic/international/transracial adoption, medical and high-tech solutions to infertility, abortion rates, and decreasing abortion services
  • Introduces the concept egg freezing
  • Offers  new data on fathers and postpartum depression, why many teens don’t use contraception, adoption by same-sex partners, and unintended pregnancy

Chapter 12:

  • Updates the material on ideal versus  realistic parenting, whether spanking works, social class and parenting, parenting in same-sex families, parenting over the life course, boomerang children, child care, and foster care
  • Offers new data on how same-sex and opposite-sex parenting differ,         
  • bed-sharing, and the impact of electronic media on children’ s well-being
  • Introduces two new concepts: maternal gatekeeping and medicalization

 Chapter 13:

  • Revises and updates discussions of globalization, offshoring, unions, how  the economy affects families, women’s labor force rates, two-income families, and inequality in the workplace
  • Introduces the concept of glass escalator
  • A new feature is included: “Some Perks and Perils of Telecommuting”

 Chapter 14:

  • Updates material on intimate  partner violence (prevalence,   severity, variations     
  • by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and social class), child maltreatment effects, elder mistreatment, substance abuse, obesity, depression, suicide, and other family health problems
  • New data and discussion of   women  who abuse men, violence among same-sex  
  • partners, and smoking as a major health problem
  • Introduces the concept polyvictimization

Chapter 15:

  • Faculty who have used previous editions of Marriages & Families will notice that
  • I have merged Chapters 15 and 16. I did so because the four topics—separation, divorce, remarriage, and stepfamilies—are interrelated, and to avoid repetition as well as decrease the number of chapters in the textbook.
  • Offers  new data on divorce   among racial-ethnic groups,    same-sex couples, and
  • how and why remarriage rates vary among racial ethnic groups
  • Updates the material on divorce, remarriage  rates, the effects of social class and the economy on divorce, how divorce affects adults and children, who pays and gets child support, the cumulative effect of divorce, and the diversity and demographic characteristics of stepfamilies
Features & benefits
  • Takes a Sociological Perspective - The authors have written this text from a sociological perspective while incorporating material from other disciplines: history, economics, social work, psychology, law, biology, medicine, family studies, women's studies, and anthropology.
  • Improves Critical Thinking - Making Connections sections ask readers to link the material to their own lives by relating it to personal experience. Stop and Think critical thinking questions at the end of features encourage readers to reflect about current topics, both personally and compared with other cultures.
  • Explores Research - Data Digest boxes that introduce each chapter provide readers with a thought-provoking overview of current statistics and trends, making the numbers associated with the Census Bureau, empirical studies, and demographic trends more interesting and digestible.
  • Supports Student Learning - New to the 8th edition, Learning Objectives at the start of every chapter indicated what students should know after reading the material. They are then reinforced with questions at the end of the chapter to unite the topics and help students gauge their comprehension.
Author biography

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 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.

Student supplements