Marriage & Family (SOC 132) Henry Ford Community College

Essay Exam Questions


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1.  Many people believe that children are the most important thing in life and the means to
marital bliss.  Why is this a myth?  At the macro level, what demographic trends do we see
in parenting?  At the micro level, what happens to couples as they transition from  a
couple to parents (i.e., what stages do couples go through when having a child?)  How do
they move into their new roles and “mother” and “father” and why might this be a stressful
2.  In American mythology, the typical marriage is a heterosexual couple in a blissful
lifelong union with the husband employed and the wife at home as a homemaker and
caregiver.  In reality, this is rarely the case.  What trends do we see in contemporary
marriages?  What macro level factors have made this situation a near impossibility?  How
do these factors translate to the micro level interactions of husbands and wives and the
gendered expectations of marital partners?  How can we predict marital quality (as
opposed to stability) based on how individual couples adapt to these macro level changes.
3.  Is human sexuality natural, universal, and timeless or are sexual relations shaped by
specific social conditions and cultural meanings?  What macro level/demographic trends
do we see in the sexual behavior of Americans?  How has it changed over time?  What
groups in society seem to have the largest change in their sexual practices and attitudes? 
What are the implications of these changes?
4.  Discuss and evaluate three public policies directed towards families.  What are the
assumptions which underlie these policies?  What groups support and contest these
policies?  Why are they successful or unsuccessful?
5.  What macro level factors influence family violence?  How common is wife abuse and
what myths exist about it?  How does the movie “The Burning Bed” illustrate the
conditions which favor spousal abuse?  What push and pull factors determine why some
women remain in abusive situations and how was this seen in the movie?
6.  What are the differences that McLanahan’s meta-analysis of empirical studies has
uncovered between children from single-parent families as compared to children from
two-parent families?  Explain the economic and interactional factors that may lead to this
difference.  What does the “Vanishing Father” refer to?  How are vanishing fathers tied to
the liberation of men and women from gender roles?  What structural factors influence the
increase in single-parent families?