SOCW6210 Week 4 Poverty in Young and Middle Adulthood

As individuals transition into young and middle adulthood, they make important lifestyle decisions. These may include decisions about whom to marry or whether to marry at all. They may include decisions about whether to have children or about how to take care of elderly relatives. The decisions adults make in the young and middle adulthood life-span phase affect the new roles they assume, such as parent, spouse, significant other, or caregiver. Life changes may occur that require adults to adapt these roles, for example, to stepparent, widow, or divorcee. This week, you explore the sociological aspects of young and middle adulthood. You consider the complexity of family systems as well as the macro systems that affect families. You also focus on poverty’s critical impact on family systems. Students will: Analyze the impact of poverty on individuals in young and middle adulthoodEvaluate theories of povertyApply genogram analysis to social work family cases Discussion: Poverty in Young and Middle Adulthood Use subtitle headings for post Post a Discussion that includes the following: An explanation of how poverty impacts the experience of individuals in young and middle adulthoodA statement as to whether you think poverty is the result of cultural or individual. characteristics; provide support for your positionAn answer to the following questions about the theory of poverty you selected:What aspects of this theory would be most suitable for your practice? Why?What aspects of this theory do you find problematic in terms of your knowledge of social work practice? Explain. Be sure to support your posts with specific references to the resources and one peer reviewed reference. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references. Reference Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. Chapter 12, “Sociological Aspects of Young and Middle Adulthood” (pp. 549-616)
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549
CHAPTER 12 SOCIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF YOUNG AND MIDDLE
ADULTHOOD
George Andrus is spending 55 hours a week getting his insurance business going and uses
his leisure time working around his house. Jenny Savano recently got a divorce, is trying to
raise her three children on a meager monthly public assistance grant, and is attending a
vocational school to train as a secretary. Tom and Eleanor Townsend have their careers
well established, their two children have grown and left home, and they enjoy traveling to
such exotic places as the Greek Isles. Joan Sarauer spends much of her day caring for her
husband, who is dying of emphysema. Carmen and Carlos Garcia attend church every
Sunday and take leadership roles in church activities during the week. Ben Katz and Julie
Immel are seniors in college and are planning their wedding.
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A Perspective
There is obviously considerable variation in the major social interests of young and
middleaged adults. However, there are some fairly common themes: choosing a personal
lifestyle and perhaps marrying; settling into a career; raising children and maintaining a
household; participating in hobbies; becoming grandparents; adjusting to relationship
changes with a spouse and children after the children leave home; and socializing with
friends.
Learning Objectives
This chapter will help prepare students to:
EP 2.1.7a, 2.1.7b
LO 12-1 Describe the following lifestyles and family forms that young adults may enter
into: marriage, cohabitation, single life, parenthood, and the life of a childless couple
LO 12-2 Describe three major sociological theories about human behavior: functionalism,
conflict theory, and interactionism. These are macro-system theories
LO 12-3 Understand three social problems that young and middleaged adults may
encounter: poverty, empty-shell marriages, and divorce. One-parent families, blended
families, and mothers working outside the home will also be discussed
LO 12-4 Understand material on assessing and intervening in family systems
LO 12-5 Summarize material on social work with organizations, including several
theories of organizational behavior
LO 12-6 Describe liberal, conservative, and developmental perspectives on human service
organizations
LO 12-1 Describe the Following Lifestyles and Family Forms
That Young Adults May Enter Into: Marriage, Cohabitation,
Single Life, Parenthood, and the Life of a Childless Couple
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Interaction in Family Systems: Choosing a Personal Lifestyle
Most people make decisions during their young adult years about how they want to live
their adult years. Decisions about lifestyles include whether to marry or stay single;
whether to have children; what kind of career to pursue; what area of the country to live in;
whether to live in an apartment, duplex, or house. (As time goes on, it is important to
remember that a person has a right to make changes in these decisions.) In choosing a
lifestyle, what many people experience is not a matter of ideal choice, but rather a result of
opportunities. In other words, financial resources, personal deficiencies, discrimination,
and so on may greatly limit or modify free choice. In addition, unexpected life events—such
as unplanned pregnancy, divorce, or death of a spouse—can dramatically alter a person’s
lifestyle and family living arrangements. In regard to lifestyles and family forms, we will
take a brief look at marriage, cohabitation, single life, parenthood, and the life of a childless
couple.
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Marriage
Marriage is defined as a legally and socially sanctioned union between two people, resulting
in mutual obligations and rights. Throughout recorded history, regardless of the simplicity
or sophistication of the society, the family has been the basic biological and social unit in
which most adults and children live. In addition, all past and present societies sanction the
family through the institution of marriage. Clayton (1975) suggests that one of the primary
reasons for instituting the custom of marriage was to enable the two partners to enjoy
sexuality as fully as possible with a minimum of anxieties and hazards. The natural sex
drive of men and women needs to be satisfied, yet control needs to be exercised over the
spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Children that result from sexual relationships need
to be raised and cared for.
Close to 92 percent of all adults in our society will get married. More than 90 percent of all
married couples will have children (Papalia et al., 2012). People marry for a variety of
reasons, including desire for children, economic security, social position, love, parents’
wishes, escape, pregnancy, companionship, sexual attraction, common interests, and
adventure. Other reasons for marrying include societal expectations and the psychological
need to feel wanted more than anyone else by someone and to be of value to another
person. Highlight 12.1 presents some theories as to why people choose each other as mates.
In our impersonal and materialistic society, marriage helps meet the need to belong because
it helps to provide emotional support and security, affection, love, and companionship.
HIGHLIGHT 12.1 Theories About Why People Choose Each
Other as Mates
The reasons why people choose each other as partners are complex and vary greatly.
Certainly such factors as religion, age, race, ethnic group, social class, and parental pressure
influence the choice of mates. In addition, many theories suggest additional factors. Some
of these theories are summarized here. No theory fully identifies all of the factors involved
in mate selection, and mate selection may involve aspects of more than one theory.
•
Propinquity theory asserts that being in close proximity is a major factor in mate
selection. This theory suggests we are apt to select a mate with whom we are in close
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association, such as at school or at work, or whom we meet through neighborhood,
church, or recreational activities (Rubin, 1973).
•
Ideal mate theory suggests we choose a mate who has the characteristics and traits we
desire in a partner. This theory is symbolized by the statement, “He’s everything I’ve
ever wanted.”
•
Congruence in values theory holds that our value system consciously and
unconsciously guides us in selecting a mate who has similar values (Grush & Yehl,
1979).
•
Homogamy theory suggests that we select a mate who has similar racial, economic,
and social characteristics.
•
Complementary needs theory holds that we either select a partner who has the
characteristics we wish we had ourselves or someone who can help us be the kind of
person we want to be.
•
Compatibility theory asserts that we select a mate with whom we can enjoy a variety
of activities. This is someone who will understand us, accept us, and with whom we
feel comfortable in communicating because that person has a similar philosophy of
life.
ETHICAL DILEMMA Should You Marry Someone You Are Not
in Love With?
EP 2.1.2
If you are a woman, assume you are four months pregnant. You once were in love with the
father of your unborn child, but no longer are. He is in love with you and wants to marry
you. What do you do? How would you go about arriving at a decision?
If you are a man, assume the woman you have been dating for the past few years is four
months pregnant. You once were in love with her, but no longer are. She is in love with you
and wants to marry you. What do you do? How would you go about arriving at a decision?
What ethical values are involved in such a decision?
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Predictors of Marital Success
A number of studies have sought to identify factors associated with marital happiness and
unhappiness (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2010; Kornblum & Julian, 2012; Papalia et al., 2012;
Santrock, 2013). Some factors can help predict whether a future marriage will be happy or
not. Other factors are related to whether an already existing marriage is happy or not. The
findings of these studies are summarized in Highlight 12.2.
Bene?ts of Marriage
Marriage leads to the formation of a family, and the family unit is recognized as the primary
unit in which children are to be produced and raised. The marriage bond thus provides for
an orderly replacement of the population. The family is the primary institution for the
rearing and socializing of children.
Marriage also provides an available and regulated outlet for sexual activity. Failure to
regulate sexual behavior would result in clashes between individuals due to jealousy and
exploitation. Every society has rules that regulate sexual behavior within family units (e.g.,
incest taboos).
HIGHLIGHT 12.2 Predictive Factors Leading to Marital
Happiness/Unhappiness
Factors for Marital Happiness
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Factors for Marital Happiness
Premarital Factors
Parents’ marriage is happy
Personal happiness in childhood
Mild but firm discipline by parents
Harmonious relationship with parents
Gets along well with the opposite sex
Acquainted for more than one year before marriage
Parental approval of the marriage
Similarity of age
Satisfaction with affection of partner
Love
Common interests
Optimistic outlook on life
Emotional stability
Sympathetic attitude
Similarity of cultural backgrounds
Compatible religious beliefs
Satisfying occupation and working conditions
A love relationship growing out of companionship rather than infatuation
Self-insight and self-acceptance
Awareness of the needs of one’s partner
Coping ability
Interpersonal social skills
Positive self-identity
Holding common values
Factors During Marriage
Good communication skills
Egalitarian relationship
Good relationship with in-laws
Desire for children
Similar interests
Responsible love, respect, and friendship
Sexual compatibility
Enjoying leisure-time activities together
Companionship and an affectional relationship
Capacity to receive as well as give
Factors for Marital Unhappiness
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Factors for Marital Unhappiness
Premarital Factors
Parents divorced
Parent or parents deceased
Incongruity of main personality traits with partner
Acquainted less than one year before marriage
Loneliness as a major reason for marriage
Escape from one’s own family as major reason for marriage
Marriage at a young age, particularly under age 20
Predisposition to unhappiness in one or both spouses
Intense personal problems
Factors During Marriage
Husband more dominant
Wife more dominant
Jealous of spouse
Feeling of superiority to spouse
Feeling of being more intelligent than spouse
Living with in-laws
Whining, acting defensively, being stubborn, and withdrawing by walking
away or not talking to spouse
Domestic violence
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A marriage is also an arrangement to meet the emotional needs of the partners, such as
affection, companionship, approval, encouragement, and reinforcement for
accomplishments. (Interestingly, Highlight 12.3 indicates that emotional needs are better
satisfied over the long term by rational love than by romantic love.) If people do not have
such affective needs met, emotional, intellectual, physical, and social growth will be stunted.
(Our high divorce rate indicates that this ideal of achieving an emotionally satisfying
relationship is not easily attained.) Married people of all ages tend to report somewhat
higher rates of satisfaction about their lives than do people who are single, divorced, or
widowed (Papalia & Feldman, 2012). Two alternative factors may be operating here—either
a number of people do find happiness in marriage, or else happy people are more apt to be
married.
Marriage also correlates with good health. Married people live longer, particularly men
(Papalia et al., 2012). But we cannot conclude that marriage confers health. Healthy people
may be more interested in getting married, may be better marriage partners, and may
attract mates more easily. Or married people may lead safer, healthier lives than single
people.
Widowed and divorced men have shorter life expectancies than do single men, whose life
expectancy is closest to the rate of married men (Santrock, 2013). Perhaps widowed and
divorced men have shorter life expectancies because they feel they have less to live for.
The marriage relationship encourages personal growth; it provides a setting for the
partners to share their innermost thoughts. In a marriage, a lot of decisions need to be
made. Should the husband and wife both pursue careers? Do they want children? How will
the domestic tasks be divided? How much time will be spent with relatives? Should they buy
a new car or a house? Should a vacation be taken this year; if so, where? Problems in these
areas can erupt into crises that, if resolved constructively, can lead to personal growth.
Through successful resolution, people often learn more about themselves and are better
able to handle future crises. However, if the problems remain unresolved, conflict may
fester and considerable discord result.
Highlight 12.4 summarizes some useful guidelines for building and maintaining a
successful marriage. (This chapter focuses on heterosexual marriages. Chapter 13 provides
some material on gay and lesbian marriages.)
Cohabitation
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Cohabitation is the open living together of an unmarried couple. Most such couples live
together for a relatively short time (less than two years) before they either marry or
separate (Papalia et al., 2012). For some, cohabitation serves as a trial marriage. For others it
offers a temporary or permanent alternative to marriage. And for many young people, it
has become the modern equivalent of dating and going steady.
People who cohabitated before marriage do not have better marriages than those who did
not. In fact, some research shows that couples who lived together before getting married
report lower-quality marriages, a lower commitment to the institution of marriage, and a
greater likelihood of divorce than do noncohabiting couples (Papalia et al., 2012).
Why do couples decide to live together without a marriage ceremony? The reasons are not
fully clear. Many people want close intimate and sexual arrangements but are not ready for
the financial and long-term commitments of a marriage. With our society being more
accepting of cohabitation than in the past, some couples appear to be choosing this living
arrangement. To some extent, they can have friendship, companionship, and a sexual
relationship without the long-term commitment of marriage. Living with someone helps
many young adults to learn more about themselves, to better understand what is involved
in an intimate relationship, and to grow as a person. Cohabitating may also help some
people clarify what they want in a mate and in a marriage.
Cohabitating also has its problems, some of which are similar to those encountered by
newlyweds: adjusting to an intimate relationship, working out a sexual relationship,
overdependency on the partner, missing what one did when living alone, and seeing friends
less. Other problems are unique to cohabitation, such as explaining the relationship to
parents and relatives, discomfort about the ambiguity of the future, and a desire for a longterm commitment from one’s partner.
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HIGHLIGHT 12.3 Romantic Love Versus Rational Love
Achieving a gratifying, long-lasting love relationship is one of our paramount goals. The
experience of feeling in love is exciting, adds meaning to living, and psychologically gives
us a good feeling about ourselves. Unfortunately, few people are able to maintain a longterm love relationship. Instead, many people encounter problems with love relationships,
including falling in love with someone who does not love them; falling out of love with
someone after an initial stage of infatuation; being highly possessive of someone they love;
and having substantial conflicts with the loved one because of differing sets of expectations
about the relationship. Failures in love relationships are more often the rule than the
exception.
The emotion of love, in particular, is often erroneously viewed as a feeling over which we
have no control. A number of common expressions connote or imply this: “I fell in love,” “It
was love at first sight,” “I just couldn’t help it,” and “He swept me off my feet.” It is more
useful to think of the emotion of love as being primarily based on our self-talk (i.e., what we
tell ourselves) about a person we meet.
Romantic love can be diagrammed as follows:
Romantic love is often based on self-talk that stems from intense unsatisfied desires and
frustrations, rather than on reason or rational thinking. Unsatisfied desires and
frustrations include extreme sexual frustration, intense lonelin …
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