Which of the following research projects best reflects a sociological perspective? (2023)

learning goal

  1. Summarize the understanding of the family as presented by theories of function, conflict, and social interaction.


  • learning goal
  • social functions of the family
  • family and conflict
  • families and social interaction
  • The central theses
  • For your report
  • Which of the following statements best describes the sociological perspective?
  • Which of the following methods is most commonly used in sociological research?
  • What is the most common form of a sociology research quizlet?
  • Which of the following questions is the focus of the sociological perspectives quizlet?

Sociological views of contemporary families and their problems generally fall into the functional, conflict, and social interactionist approaches presented in Chapter 1, Understanding Social Problems. Let's review these views, summarized in Table 10.1 Theory Snapshot.

Table 10.1theory snapshot

theoretical perspectiveImportant Assumptions
functionalismThe family fulfills several essential functions for society. It socializes children, provides emotional and practical support to its members, helps regulate sexual activity and sexual reproduction, and provides its members with a social identity. Family problems arise from sudden or widespread changes in family structure or processes; These problems threaten family stability and weaken society.
conflict theoryThe family contributes to social inequality by increasing economic inequality and strengthening patriarchy. Family problems result from economic inequality and patriarchal ideology. The family can also be a source of conflict for its own members, including physical violence and emotional cruelty.
symbolic interactionismThe interaction of family members and close couples involves a shared understanding of their situation. Wives and husbands have different styles of communication, and social class affects the expectations that spouses have of their marriage and of each other. Family problems result from different perceptions and expectations that spouses have of their marriage.

social functions of the family

Recall that the functional perspective emphasizes that social institutions perform several important functions to help maintain social stability and otherwise keep a society functioning. A functional understanding of the family thus emphasizes the way in which the family as a social institution contributes to making society possible. As such, the family fulfills several important functions.

First, the family is the primary unit for the socialization of children. No society is possible without proper socialization of their youth. In most societies, the family is the main unit where socialization takes place. Parents, siblings, and if it's an extended family rather than a nuclear family, other relatives all help socialize children from birth.

Which of the following research projects best reflects a sociological perspective? (1)

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One of the most important tasks of the family is the socialization of the children. In most societies, the family is the main unit through which socialization occurs.

Second, ideally, the family is an important source of practical and emotional support for its members. It provides them with food, clothing, shelter and other necessities of life, and it also provides them with love, comfort and help in times of emotional need and other types of support.

Third, the family helps regulate sexual activity and sexual reproduction. All societies have norms about who and how often a person should have sex. The family is the main unit for mediating these norms and the main unit through which sexual reproduction occurs. One reason for this is to ensure that infants receive appropriate emotional and practical care at birth.

Fourth, the family gives its members a social identity. Children are born into their parents' social class, race and ethnicity, religion, etc. Some children have lifelong advantages because of the social identity they receive from their parents, while others face many obstacles because the social class or race/ethnicity they are born into is at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Aside from discussing the functions of the family, the functional perspective on the family asserts that sudden or sweeping changes in traditional family structure and processes threaten the stability of the family, and therefore society. In the 1950s, it was asserted that the nuclear family was dominated by male breadwinners and female housewives is the best arrangement for children as it satisfies a family's economic needs and child-rearing needs. Any change to this rule, they warned, would harm children and thus the family as a social institution and even society itself. Textbooks no longer carry this warning, but many conservative observers remain concerned about the impact on children of working mothers and single-parent families. We'll get back to your concerns in a moment.

family and conflict

Conflict theorists agree that the family fulfills the important functions just listed, but also point to problems within the family that minimize or overlook the functional perspective.

First, the family as a social institution contributes to social inequality. Since families pass on their wealth to their children and families differ greatly in the amount of their wealth, the family contributes to reinforcing existing inequalities. Over the centuries, and especially during industrialization, the family also became more and more of a patriarchal entity (since men made money by working in factories while women stayed at home), which helped to increase the status of men at the top of the family strengthen social hierarchy.

Second, the family can also be a source of conflict for its own members. Although the functional perspective assumes that the family provides emotional comfort and support to its members, many families do just the opposite and are a far cry from the harmonious, happy groups portrayed in 1950s television shows. Instead, they argue, yell, and use emotional cruelty and physical violence. We will return to domestic violence later in this chapter.

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The conflict perspective emphasizes that many of the problems we see in today's families stem from economic inequality and patriarchy. The problems of many families reflect the fact that they live in poverty or near poverty. Money does not always bring happiness, but a severe lack of money leads to stress and other difficulties that affect the functioning and relationships of a family. Box Note 10.9, “Applying Social Research,” discusses other ways in which social class affects the family.

Conflicts within a family also go back to patriarchy. Husbands tend to make more money than wives, and many men continue to feel like heads of the family. When women defy this old-fashioned notion, marital conflict ensues.

apply social research

social class and family

A growing body of social science research documents social class differences in how well families function: the quality of their relationships and the cognitive, psychological, and social development of their children. This focus reflects the fact that what happens in the first few months and years of life can have a profound impact on how well a newborn does in infancy, adolescence and beyond. To the extent that this is true, the identified social class differences have worrying implications.

According to sociologist Frank E. Furstenberg Jr., "major differences between social classes" exist in relation to maternal prenatal experiences, such as: B. the quality of their diet and health care, as well as in the health care their infants receive. As a result, he says, "children are born unequally endowed." This inequality worsens after birth for several reasons.

First, low-income families are much more likely to experience negative events such as death, poor health, unemployment, divorce, and criminal victimization. When these negative events occur, Furstenberg says, "social class affects a family's ability to absorb the blow... Life is just harder and more brutal at the bottom." These negative events create great amounts of stress; As discussed in Chapter 2, “Poverty,” this stress, in turn, causes children to experience various developmental problems.

Second, low-income parents are much less likely to read and speak regularly to their infants and young children, who consequently develop cognitive and reading skills more slowly; This problem, in turn, affects their academic performance upon entering primary school.

Third, low-income parents are also less able to engage their children in cultural experiences (eg, important for a child's development). In contrast, more affluent parents engage their children in these activities in a pattern that sociologist Annette Lareau calls concerted cultivation. These children's involvement in these activities provides them with a variety of life skills that will help improve their performance in school and later in the workplace.

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Fourth, low-income children grow up in low-income neighborhoods that often have inadequate schools and many other problems, including toxins such as lead paint that impede a child's development. In contrast, Fürstenberg says, children from wealthier families “are more likely to attend better schools and live in better neighborhoods. It's like tilting the playing field for families in a way that's barely visible to the naked eye."

Fifth, low-income families are less able to afford to send a child to college and are more likely to lack the social connections that wealthier parents can use to help their child find a good job after college.

For all these reasons, social class has a significant impact on how children fare from conception through early adulthood and beyond. As this research documents many negative consequences of living in a low-income family, it underscores the need for far-reaching efforts to help such families.

Sources: Bandy, Andrews & Moore, 2012; Furstenberg, 2010; Larau, 2010

families and social interaction

Social interactionist perspectives on the family examine how family members and close couples interact on a daily basis and come to a shared understanding of their situation. Studies based on social interactionism give us a keen understanding of how and why families function the way they do.

For example, some studies focus on how men and women communicate and the extent to which they communicate successfully (Tannen, 2001). A classic study by Mirra Komarovsky (1964) found that wives in working-class marriages liked to talk to their husbands about problems, while husbands tended to be quiet when problems arose. Such gender differences are less common in middle-class families, where men are better educated and more emotionally expressive than their working-class counterparts, but gender differences in communication still exist in these families. Another classic study by Lillian Rubin (1976) found that wives in middle-class families say ideal husbands are those who communicate well and share their feelings, while wives in working-class families are more likely to say ideal husbands are those who who do not drink too much and go to work every day.

From the symbolic-interactionist perspective, family problems often result from the different understandings, perceptions, and expectations that spouses have of their marriage and family. When these differences become too extreme and spouses cannot reconcile their differences, marital conflict and possible divorce can result (Kaufman & Taniguchi, 2006).

The central theses

  • The family ideally fulfills several functions for society. It socializes children, provides practical and emotional support to its members, regulates sexual reproduction, and provides its members with a social identity.
  • In accordance with the emphases of conflict theory, the family can also create several problems. In particular, it can contribute to social inequality for a number of reasons and expose its members to violence, strife and other forms of conflict.
  • The social interactionist understanding of the family emphasizes how family members interact on a daily basis. In this regard, several studies find that husbands and wives communicate differently in certain ways, which sometimes hinders effective communication.

For your report

  1. When thinking about how best to understand the family, do you prefer the views and assumptions of functional theory, conflict theory, or social interaction theory? explain your answer
  2. Do you think that the family still has the function of regulating sexual behavior and sexual reproduction? Why or why not?


Bandy, T., Andrews, K.M., & Moore, K.A. (2012). Disadvantaged Families and Child Outcomes: The Importance of Emotional Support for Mothers. Washington, DC: Kids Trends.

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Furstenberg, F.E., Jr. (2010). Divergent Development: The Not-So-Invisible Hand of Social Class in the United States. In B.J. Risman (ed.), Families as They Really Are (pp. 276-294). New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Kaufman G & Taniguchi H (2006). Gender and Marital Happiness in Later Life. Journal of Family Affairs, 27(6), 735–757.

Komarovsky, M. (1964). working-class marriage. New York, NY: Random House.

Lareau, A (2010). Unequal childhoods: inequalities in the rhythms of daily life. In B.J. Risman (ed.), Families as They Really Are (pp. 295-298). New York: W.W. Norton.

Rubin, L.B. (1976). Worlds of pain: Life in the working-class family. New York, NY: Essential Books.

Tannen, D. (2001). They just don't understand: women and men in conversation. New York, NY: Spring.

Which of the following statements best describes the sociological perspective?

Which of the following statements best describes the sociological perspective?examine social change.

Which of the following methods is most commonly used in sociological research?

The surveyis the most widely used research method for collecting data in sociology.

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What is the most common form of a sociology research quizlet?

There are various research methods in sociology, but these are the most commonly usedField research (or participant observation) and survey methods. For many purposes it makes sense to combine two or more methods in a single research project. a sample from a larger population that is statistically typical of that population.

Which of the following questions is the focus of the sociological perspectives quizlet?

The sociological perspective. Which of the following questions is central to the sociological perspective?How do groups affect people?


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