Social Institutions

Chapter 11
Families and Intimate Relationships
By Jenny and Chelle

Our textbook defines a family as “a group of people who are related to one another by bonds of blood, marriage, or adoption and who live together, form an economic unit, and bear and raise children (Kendall, 318).” In addition to the functions listed above, families serve many other important purposes such as providing love and moral support. When studying familial relations, they can be further broken down into two categories: family of orientation and family of procreation (Kendall, 343). Families of orientation are those in which a person is born into. It is in these groups that an individual learns to communicate effectively with others. That individual then goes on to later form what is called a family of procreation, which includes all members of their newly formed family. For example, a spouse and children.


Most parental units are legally bound to each other through marriage. A marriage is the union of two consenting adults. This partnership is formed in many countries around the world and depends on the societal norms classified by a particular society. In the United States, the only legal form of marriage is monogamy. This form of courtship can only take place between one man and one woman. However, in other countries, such as in the Middle East, polygamy is an accepted form of marriage. Polygamy allows more than two people to be wed without becoming a social outcast in their community. The marriage patterns in an area are determined by what is viewed as acceptable in that society. (Kendall, 321-322)

Within the field of sociology there are many different points of view regarding the importance of family and the role of its members. From the functionalist perspective, these groups are viewed as essential in maintaining the social stability of society. However, according to those of the conflict and feminist perspectives, families “are sources of social inequality and conflict over values, goals, and access to resources and power (Kendall, 326).” They serve no other purpose than to create hardships and distress. The third perspective is that of the symbolic interactionist. They believe that families main purpose is to act as a form of support in which relatives develop and share many commonalities. Lastly, the postmodernist perspective praises the diversity of families but states that “as people have pursued individual freedom, they have been less inclined to accept the structural constraints imposed on them by institutions [families].” (Kendall, 326-327)

The structures of families have changed throughout the course of history all over the world. In the past, society insisted that a man and a woman be married before they lived together or decided to have children. In recent times, it has been accepted by some societies for a couple to live together and even raise a family without being married, called cohabitation. Another change we see today is the dual-earner marriage. A dual-earner marriage is when both spouses, in essence, “bring home the bacon.“ In earlier times, women were expected to stay home, maintaining the house and raising the children, but now it is perfectly acceptable for women and men to share the work load and household responsibilities. An additional structural change includes the single-parent household where there is only one parent to raise the child/children. In recent years, there has been an increase in one-parent households due to divorce and births outside of marriage. (Kendall, 330-335)

Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. (318-344)

"family." google image. <>

Chapter 12
Education and Religion
By Paige and Josh

According to the Sociology in Our Times textbook education and religion have both been important factors in many societies around the world. Both shape how our societies interact within our own society and with other societies around us. The shaping of our societies begins we are young with our families and friends shaping how our lives will take place. This is when formal education and religion are brought about. (Kendall 348)

Diana Kendall states in her textbook, “Education is the social institution responsible for the systematic transmission of knowledge, skills, and cultural values within a formally organized structure”. Functionalists believe education is one of the most important parts of our society. There are both manifest and latent functions of education. (Kendall 348)

The manifest functions of education are socialization, transmission of culture, social control, social placement, and change and innovation. Socialization is the subject matter learned according to age and skill level. Transmission of culture is how people learn of new cultures and those new to our culture are assimilated into our society. Social control teaches students how to maintain order in their society via discipline and the following of rules. Social placement determines who is best suited for what job in their society. Finally change and innovation is simply what it appears to be: students bring about change and make things new and better. (Kendall 351-352)

The latent functions of education are restricting some activities, matchmaking and production of social networks, and creating a generation gap. Activities are restricted as the United States passed a law requiring schooling up to a certain age. Matchmaking takes place and social networks are formed as student interact with their peers and form relationships with those around them. Last, a generation gap is created when generations learn new things from those of their parents and embrace those ideas. (Kendall 352)

There are indeed conflicting perspectives on education. The first problem is the lower standards and levels of education in the maths and sciences in the United States than in other nations. Another problem is that the social class of those being educated comes into effect along with intelligence and income when and education is gained. There is also a gap created by something known as tracking. Tracking, according to our textbook, is when students belong to different curriculum groups based on scoring of a test taken or on past grades received. There can possibly be a “hidden curriculum” in which culture, attitude, and conformity are conveyed to different social classes and genders. (Kendall 353-357)

The conflicting group to the functionalists is the interactionists who are more concerned with actual classroom patterns and practices as opposed to educational functions. Interactionists recognize the issue of labeling and the self-fulfilling prophecy. They notice that people are label based on their characteristics compared to those around them. The labels can either be a cause or a result of tracking as they examine IQ testing in order to possibly place students in classes. IQ scores can separate students from their peers if the IQ scores they receive are significantly different. (Kendall 357-359)

Of course no matter the opinion on education (functionalist or interactionist), there are still problems in schools and particularly elementary and secondary schools. Different schools are receiving different funding based on location, social classes in the vicinity, and amount of students in the vicinity. Another problem is with the violent outbreaks in schools that have led to many deaths and a “lockdown” of schools in hopes of retaining a peaceful learning environment. The heightened security has increased the desire of students to drop out of school as well. Finally there still appears to be racial segregation in school even though it no longer appears to be the case. (Kendall 359-361)

The last leg of education is college. A rapidly growing opportunity for high school graduates that hundreds of thousands pursue is that of the community college. From our very own Colby Community College up to the oldest two-year college in the nation, Joliet Junior College in Illinois, many seek to begin, or possibly complete vocationally, the long and winding road towards a career that which only academia can provide. The next step after a community college is that of a four-year university. Universities provide students with major degrees that they can take with them to gain high paying jobs that are worthy of their hard work for so many years of school. All of these years don’t come cheap however. There is indeed a price tag on gaining an education capable of allowing to a person to follow their dreams of landing their “dream job”. Just like the segregation in middle and high schools there is much racial diversity in a college. Students are subject to the sight of those that may or may not be of the same racial and ethnic background as themselves as college continues. (Kendall 361-365)

Another topic that has about as much diversity as today’s educational system is that of religion. Diana Kendall states in our Sociology in Our Times textbook that, “Religion is a system of beliefs, symbols, and rituals, based on some sacred or supernatural realm, that guides human behavior, gives meaning to life, and unites believers into a community”. Religion can commonly be seen as man’s (or woman’s) explanation to many unanswerable questions such as the meaning of life. It tells us “why we exist, why people suffer and die, and what happens when we die” according to our textbooks. The religions that are created are categorized by their beliefs and gods. (Kendall 365)


Throughout the years there have been several conflicting opinions with religion and about religion. The major two have been the battle between religion and science and the separation of church and state. Ever since scientific discoveries have been made there has been a question of their explanation in the Bible or other holy book. The most controversial issue began with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. Darwin’s theory of evolution would seem to be a way of disproving religion. Many religious backers and Darwinists have long battled on which is stronger: fact or faith (Kendall 366-368). The other opponent of religion comes in the way of a Bill of Rights amendment disallowing church from entering the realm of the government and in the turn the public school system ("Separation of church and state in the United States"). According to a Wikipedia article on the “Separation of Church and State in the United States” the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution declares that the United States of America will not now or ever have a national religion declared or imposed upon its citizens. Separation from church in public schools has especially become a hot topic. Those in favor of having church allowed in public schools wish for all people to be able to bring their own faith into the classroom. Those against the church and state having any amount of reliance on the other are more than likely of a minority religion in the given area (Kendall 373-375). Religion completes the round trip that associates education with religion in our lives in the world every day.

Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. (348-376)
"Separation of church and state in the United States." Wikipedia. 2009. Web.20 Jun 2009. <>.

Chapter 13
Politics and the Economy in Global Perspective
By Paige and Josh

According to the Sociology in our Times, “politics is the social institution through which power is acquired and exercised by some people and groups”. Politics is present in every society today in the form of a government or state. Political sociology is the process in which politics is studied in its relation to other factors such as the economy, education, or media (Kendall 380-381).

Politics brings about power and authority to those with power. Unfortunately politics often times brings about corruption and abuse of the power or authority gained. Those with power will very likely try to confuse their abuse of power forcefulness used to gain that power by falsely showing they have authority (Kendall 381-382).


Authority, while be a legitimate show of power, has a few ideal forms. The three types of authority as defined by Max Weber are traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal authority. Traditional authority is classified being a long-standing custom that weakens as traditions weaken. Charismatic authority is defined by a leader’s outstanding qualities and accomplishments, but it is generally unstable leading to only a temporary solution. Finally rational-legal authority is the common authority as written by law and the authority lies with the office not the person (Kendall 382-384).

As with the types of authority there are also four major theories of political systems. These political systems found in what are today known as nation-states are monarchy, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and democracy. A monarchy is a system in which power is passed down to each generation in a family by inheritance. Authoritarianism is a political system where the government is controlled by a select few people and no one is allowed to enter the government by a popular vote. Totalitarianism is a stepped up version of authoritarianism in which not only is no one allowed to participate in the government, but those outside of the government are controlled in both their personal lives and otherwise. The final form of government is the one in which Americans know best: democracy. A democracy is a government where the people rule either directly or indirectly through representatives (Kendall 385-387).

Now we look to the opposing perspectives of politics in the form of functionalists and conflict theorists. The functionalists believe in a pluralist model of government. The pluralist model distributes power in the system to many interest groups. The interest groups gain power by influencing those in the government. Some interest groups, known as political action committees, even go as far as raising money for various candidates in order to gain political power. Conflict theorists counter the functionalist’s pluralist model with their own elite model. The elite model implies that all power in government is granted to a small minority with the rest of the population only desiring that power. The elite can be either a group known as the power elite or the ruling class. For either grouping the people in power are those at the top of their industry (Kendall 387-391).

The United States contains both perspectives of power in a democratic (more specifically republic) government. The United States government has directly affected the economy in our nation as well. According to Diana Kendall, “economy is the social institution that ensures the maintenance of society through the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services” (394).


Economies have come in many different forms throughout the years. The way of improving an economy has even changed based on the situation a nation is currently in—preindustrial, industrial, and postindustrial. Preindustrial economies are part of a more hunting and gathering culture. Industrial economies depend on alternative sorts of energy and machinery. Postindustrial economies rely on provision of sources and contain fast-food, transportation, and technology (Kendall 394-396).

Industrial and postindustrial economies generally come in two categories: capitalism and socialism. Capitalism is a system of economics defined by a market owned and control by private citizens. The advantages of capitalism are the private ownership of property that produces income and competition to keep prices in check. The disadvantage, however, is the lack of government intervention which is what makes capitalism work best. The alternative economic theory to capitalism is socialism. Socialism is the act by which all goods are publically owned and operated. The three features that make up the socialist theory are public ownership of the means of production, pursuit of collective goals, and centralized decision making. In the ideal socialist economic theory the term is interchangeable with communism and the ideal communism has no separation of social classes or differentiation between leaders and people. In fact, there would ideally be no leader whatsoever involved in “pure” socialism or communism. The more often chosen economic theory is a mixture of capitalism and socialism that has been seen to benefit most involved (Kendall 396-402).

Of course every economy must require people doing work and the same is true for the United States. The workers of the United States consist of a wide variety of categories. There are professional jobs requiring college experience all the way to contingent work which consists of part-time jobs. There are also many careers which are being deprofessionalized so people with many years of work and a degree no longer do as much of their job as they used to do. With workers there have come labor unions in the United States as well. Workers have begun to band together to fight for equal and better rights for all in different job positions. Labor unions along with the United States government have also begun to give more opportunities to the disabled as well (Kendall 402-408).

As a whole the politics and the economy are strongly tied together now and always. The future of many nations’ governments and economies now rest their fate on the current financial status of super nations such as the United States and China. The economy of larger more powerful nations is really what determines how a smaller developing nation will fare (Kendall 408-411).

Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. (380-411)
Google Images. 26 Jun 2009 <>.


Chapter 14

Health, Health Care, and Disability

By: Katie and Lindsay

Health and health care will affect all humans directly at some point in their lives. Health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being (Kendall: 417). Health care is defined as any activity intended to improve health (Kendall: 417). Disability unlike health and healthcare may not affect everyone directly but will impact their life in some way. Disability is defined as a reduced ability to perform tasks one would normally do at a given stage of life and that may result in stigmatization or discrimination against the person with disabilities (Kendall: 437).

Health is a part of all aspects of human life. Health begins at birth and ends at death. This is encompassed in our life expectancy. Life expectancy is defined as an estimate of the average lifetime of people born in a specific year (Kendall: 417). The average life expectancy in the United States is 74 years of age for men and 80 years of age for women.
Our health is comprised of physical health, mental health, and social health. These three sub areas have many factors that make them up. Physical health is made up of: physical fitness, diet, and any disease(s) we may have. Mental Health is made up of: our emotional stability, psychological health, and any diseases that may alter our mental state. Social health involves our ability to communicate with others and be a fully functioning member of society.
Health is a sociological topic because it involves every culture, government, and religion. Health is a part of everyone’s life. A person’s health can make them a target for discrimination. For example, a person with AIDS might not receive the same respect and treatment as a person without the disease. Government plays a large role in health because it determines the health care in its country. For example, our country is a private health care system. Americans must purchase their own health insurance or pay for medical expenses out of pocket.

Health Care
When most people think of health care medicine comes to their mind. Medicine is defined as an institutionalized system for the scientific diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness (Kendall: 417). During the 19th Century medicine became more of a science when research in bacteriology and anesthesiology picked up (Kendall: 424).
Abraham Flexner conducted a study in this time to look at how to make medicine more wide spread and profitable. He met with the leading faculty at Johns Hopkins and created a plan on how to make medical school education more effective (Kendall 424). This study was known as the Flexner report and it included five criteria that would help make medicine better. These five criteria were: Abstract, specialized knowledge, autonomy, self-regulation, authority, and altruism. These five criteria aimed at giving doctors a theoretical education, teaching them to rely on their own judgment, establishing a code of ethics, making them the final word in medicine, and treating patients not for their own self-interest but because it is the right thing to do (Kendall: 424-425).
Health care and medicine have made great strides in the 21st century. We now have hospitals that treat any patient who comes into the emergency room regardless of their ability to pay for that care. This care is only provided in certain cases though. Medical care is provided for a pregnant woman who is in labor or someone in need of life saving care. Patients who come in simply for a sprained ankle can be turned away. This situation is because of our nations insurance state.
The United States is primarily a private insurance nation. Each citizen must purchase health insurance for them and their families. This insurance will help them to pay for medical services they may require. If someone cannot afford private insurance they can apply for Medicaid or Medicare depending on their age and income. Medicaid is for the disabled and underprivileged and Medicare is for the elderly. These public insurances are paid for by the government.
Canada and Great Britain have very different health care systems. Canada has universal healthcare with is paid for by tax revenues. Universal Healthcare is defined as a health care system in which all citizens receive medical services paid for by tax revenues (Kendall: 429). Great Britain has socialized medicine which is owned by the government. Socialized medicine is defined as a health care system in which the government owns the medical care facilities and employs the physicians (Kendall: 429).


A disability is any condition that limits a person’s ability to function abnormally. Disabilities affect everyone all over the world in some way. The citizens that are most affected are often the people who cannot afford the healthcare to treat their disability. Having a disability puts the person at higher risk of discrimination, poverty, and lowered life expectancy.

Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. (414-441)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition, Health Care, on the Internet at


Sarah Elaine


The definition of family is "a group of persons of common ancestry." This is a simple definition of family; however, "family" is much more complicated than simply sharing a bloodline. "Family," can be a hollow, empty word if it is just being said. People who barely talk to each other and may even be disgusted with one another may call themselves family while a group of people who care about each other and take care of one another may also call themselves family.

Family depends greatly on how one sees it. Do they see family as simply sharing a bloodline? Or do they consider it much more than that? A person's answer to this question greatly affects the extent that they consider the loyalty and love they owe to their family.

A person who is not close to their family may feel that they do not owe them anything. If their family has not always been there for them and has barely helped them out in their life, they may consider their family to be strangers. Family keeps people connected biologically but it does not form bonds. It cannot make a group of people connect on a deeper lever and to communicate with one another. If a "family" does not talk to one another and care about another, they may just as well be a group of strangers.

On the other hand, if people who share the same bloodline are close to one another and communicate with one another, then they can be considered a "real" family. This does not necessary mean that they always get along, it just means that they are active in each other's lives and care about one another. They worry about one another and help each other out. A family such as this should owe each other loyalty and love. They probably would not even feel that they owe the other person anything. They would already be loyal to them and love them in a family such as this. 

Another type of family is a group of very close friends, who are not biologically related at all. This family is sometimes much closer and active in each other lives, than blood relatives. Simply because they choose to be, they don’t feel forced to be there. These families are ever evolving, but they never ‘owe’ each other anything.

Sarah Elaine

According to the dictionary "religion is the service and worship of God or the supernatural." I challenge that definition. It is true that all religions do involve the worship of some supernatural force; however, it
is also true that no religion in history has ever stopped at that. For a more complete definition of the word religion we also have to examine two other aspects. How has it affected man over the centuries? And what is the true motivation of its leadership? Some would have you believe that it has brought peace and harmony to the world and that its leaders are motivated by the service of their god. 

I suggest that a more accurate definition of word would be as follows. Religion, a feudal system of government which uses fear, hate and sometimes lies to control and manipulate people for the betterment of a select group of individuals. 

To better illustrate this point let's look at just three of the countless examples that human history has to offer.

The Inquisition, "judicial institution, established by the papacy in the Middle Ages, charged with seeking out, trying, and sentencing people guilty of heresy." Heretics were considered enemies of the state. The penalty for heresy was torture and death.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ, "Jesus was taken to Golgotha and nailed to a cross, the Roman punishment for political offenders and criminals."

The Crusades, "The name Crusade (from Latin, "Cross") was also applied, to the wars against pagan peoples, Christian heretics, and political foes of the papacy."

All three examples illustrate how man has used God to justify his greed and quest for power. When the leadership was challenged, it used divine decree to justify the murder and torture of the innocent. We are expected to believe that a non-physical being order the religious leadership to acquire riches and land, often at the demise of the poor and helpless. The misuse of God isn't limited to the Ancient world. Today we have people like Louis Farrakhan and Adolph Hitler and David Koresh who use god
to propagate racism and hate, thereby giving them the power unite and control a given segment of the population. 

As you can plainly see, religion is much more than the worship of a supernatural force as its leaders would have us believe. It is in fact, a method by which a society is governed and controlled. "God created man, man created religion, it is therefore corrupt."

By Dustin Coffman

In the United States, religious practice is inversely associated with several chronic conditions, but no reports show whether it is inversely associated with prevalence of positive serology for infections.

Methods: Data on a multiethnic, national sample included 11,507 persons aged 17 years and over with complete data on frequency of attendance at religious services and serologic testing for six pathogens. Because of the documented association between religious involvement and a number of health behaviors and outcomes, it seems plausible that there may be associations between religious involvement and a variety of infections and that this relationship may be due, in part, to risky behaviors that are not associated with religious involvement.

This dichotomy ensures adequate numbers with African-American race and high religious attendance in both region strata, given the concentration of both in the South), residence (metro/standard metropolitan statistical area versus non-metro, marital status (married versus other), and health status (fair/poor versus excellent/good self-reported health). models assessed whether the effect of religious attendance is accounted for by behavior involving sex or illegal drugs. In bivariate analyses, frequent attendees were less likely to have become sexually active below age 18, have had 10 or more lifetime partners, have used marijuana 100 or more times, or have never used cocaine. These are interesting facts to why the people that have had regular church attendance have less sexually transmitted disease. The book of proverbs tells how if you go have sex with an immoral women then disease will infect your body and this is proven time and time again in today’s society that risky sex leads to disease.

The reasons behind this are the higher standards of Law that the Christian faith imposes upon its followers. The Bible warns about the risky types of sexual behavior and the consequences of those actions. Not only the just the wrath of God but also the disease that will invade the body from those types of risky behavior. From a sociology standpoint since the removal of the Ten Commandments from the school the increase in drug use, teen pregnancy, and overall crime in general in our school systems and society have increased over ten fold. Even if one does not believe in an almighty God and even if God exists or doesn’t exist in your mind the rules that are followed or tried to be followed by Christian followers have proven time and time again have a positive influence on society rather than negative.

Bottom line to this study is that we based this country on the Bible not religious freedom. The U.S. constitution is based on Isaiah the 61 chapter. If we all followed the rules that are contained within the Bible the United States would be a better place to live in. Our government would not be in debt. Bible says not to borrow money because the borrower is a slave to the lender. Our citizen would treat others how they would like to be treated. Crimes that are committed against other people that cause bodily harm are not fed and clothed for the rest of their lives at a tremendous cost to society. The welfare system would work totally different. Those who do not work shall not eat.

The study of disease in the Christian community vs. the general public was amazing to study. I would be will to bet that over all the people that truly follow the path of the Bible will always achieve more in life, because of their principals versus the general population whether it is disease, finances, and justice the followers of the bible hold themselves to a higher code that is scorned and looked down upon by some of the general population that does not want to follow the code. It is wonderful to see scientific proof that those that follow the word have better health than those that don’t.


References: Medscape article, Bible

by Edward Limo
Politics is the social institution through which power is acquired and exercised by people and groups. Most societies in government deal with a general political system; politics is the relation of citizens with the government, while on the other hand economy is the social institution that ensures maintenance of society through the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. Different counties have different political sets of governance, in most countries leaders have used their political powers to take control of the societies or the people who are under them.


Politics has become more than what politicians do when they run for an office, nowadays politics is more concerned with the struggles that shape social relations within the societies that we live today. This is clearly illustrated by the taxes we pay and the job opportunities that are available for us, the cost of education, the availability of social facilities, e.g. affordable housing, medical care, protection against racial and sexual discrimination all directly affect our lives and are influenced by politics. In most countries media can have a large influence the public opinion in such a way that it favors certain individuals, political parties or certain group of people.

Political leaders have used persons or groups to achieve their political goals despite of opposition from others, for example Kenya, Rwanda and Somalia are good examples of countries that once experienced civil wars due to political instability. In Kenya for example political leaders from different communities had their own influences on Kenyan society and wanted to bring the group in other communities under his control. This lead to a civil war being fought between supporters for and against his way of thinking. The results of this particular civil war lead to extensive political instability among Kenyan ethnic groups.

Leaders had failed to convey the concerns and interests of those they represent. The violent response to an election in late 2007 caused wide spread death and destruction and the association to Kenya for many countries took a new meaning, a visceral ethnic murder sparked by dangerously corrupt politics, was the way the world now looked towards Kenya. The presence of a well-educated, professional middle class strengthens Kenya’s democracy because they hold politicians accountable, the danger for most African countries is that the middle classes are the people who should be able to find solution to the current political instability and help to plot a new way forward. If they do not get involved, however, that will lead the politicians who are increasingly entrenched and corrupt to continue with the status quo. “Wars, Guns & Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places. Paul Collier”.

The social institutions of politics and economy have constitute to another powerful social institution in our society and around the world, politics and economy is a hot topic for concerned people because we live in an age of conflict when we are regarding many decisions that have been made by our country’s political and business leaders. Many people are now concerned on how Kenyan social institutions of politics, economic operations and on how decisions are made affects peoples lives. The special interest groups have come up with which their interest is to protect the political system, few groups of privileged people who have power to control political processes have demonstrated capitalist interest and controls everyday political system. “Sociology in our times: the essentials, seventh edition. Diana Kendall”.

The ability for the middle classed Kenyan people to speak out against political powers and wealthy business owners has a detrimental effect on the running of the country. The corruption of these people has lead to civil war and political unrest, and thrown Kenya into political turmoil.

Chapter 11
Families and Intimate Relationships
Chapter 11
By Shelly Aufrecht


In the last century the look and structure of a family has changed dramatically. Divorce, economic changes, child care changes as well as other social issues has changed the look of a family. (Sociology in Our Times) The “Leave it to Beaver” family with June as the stay at home mom taking care of her boys Wally and “The Beaver” and Ward as the primary bread-winner is a thing of the past. Today we have many different family options from the traditional two-parent family, single-parent family, blended families, extended families, and non-traditional families.
The nuclear family can best describe our “Leave it to Beaver” family.

The nuclear family is a mother, a father and their biological or adopted children. The nuclear family is often referred to as a traditional family or two-parent family. Nuclear families are divided into three kinds. The first type is the man works outside the home while the woman works in the home caring for the children. The second type is the woman works outside the home and the man cares for the children. This trend has becoming more popular in the last few years. We have even coined the term “stay at home dad.” The third type is when both the wife and the husband work outside the home and provide income for the family. Due to the economics of today this has become a necessity for some families to make ends meet. It has been proven beneficial when both parents take active roles in raising the children for all involved.

Single-parent families are on the rise in recent years. In this family only one parent is in the house raising the children. High divorce rates and people choosing not to marry are causing single-parent households to be the fastest growing family type in North America. Most of the single-parent households are headed by single divorced woman, separated, widowed, or never married. Teen pregnancies also contribute to single-parent families. Children living in single-parent homes sometimes struggle with academic issues, early marriages and parenthood, and then higher divorce rates, and alcohol and drug abuse. Financial difficulties often plague single-parent families with child care being the primary cost.

Blended families consist of a husband, wife and children from previous marriages, and children (if any) from the new marriage. (Sociology in Our Times) Another term for blended families is a step family. Images of blended families can be anywhere from “The Brady Bunch” to Disney’s “Cinderella”. The word “step” usually brings negative images such as the evil step mother or step monster. When parents remarry they have hopes for the success with their new family. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed when merging two families but it can be done and everyone can live happily ever after.

Non-Traditional families can take on a very broad definition. A non-traditional family can be anything from foster parents, multiracial parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, and same-sex parents.

In the perfect world we all would live in a happy nuclear family with a two parent family and children co-existing under one roof. Unfortunately society today has undergone many changes since the “Leave it to Beaver” era. No matter what kind of family you have we can be rest assured the families still offer companionship, security, and a measure of protection in an often uncaring world. The family is still a very important element in all of our lives. Although no family is perfect, and there is the old adage, “you can’t pick your relatives” the majority of us would still pick the family we were given.

Sociology in Our Times, Diana Kendall, 7th Edition

Families and Intimate Relationships
Jerad Schroeder

Families are people that live together and care for young and think their identity significantly attaches them as a group. There are many things that deal with families. Family of orientation is the family in which someone is born and in which early socialization usually takes place. An extended family is relatives in addition to parents and children who live in the same household.

A nuclear family is composed of one or two parents and their dependent children that live apart from other relatives. Patriarchal families are families the authority is held by the eldest male, matriarchal families are families that the authority is held by the oldest female, and egalitarian families are families that partners share power equally.


Families go through many transitions and experience a wide variety of problems, ranging from high rate of divorce and teen pregnancy to domestic abuse and family violence. Two facts about families are that for good or ill, families are central to our existence, and the reality of family life is far more complicated than the idealized image of families found in the media.

Intimate relationships are normally reserved for a couple that has been married. Marriage is a legally recognized or socially approved arrangement between two or more individuals that carries certain rights and obligations and usually involves sexual activity. There is more than one type of marriage.

Monogamy is a marriage between two people usually a man and a woman, polygamy is the concurrent marriage of a person of one sex with two or more members of the opposite sex, polygyny is when one man is married to two or more women, and polyandry is when one woman is married to two or more men.

Cohabitation is a situation where two people live together and think of themselves as a couple without being legally married. Lots of couples decide to have children but many cannot have children so they adopt. Adoption is the legal process through which the rights are transferred from the child’s biological parents to new legal parents. In recent time there have been a lot more single parent households due to divorce and birth outside of marriage.

Razing a child alone can be an emotional burden not only for the parent but also on the child. Children in single parent families are more likely then children in two parent families to have poor academic achievements, higher school absentees and droop out rates, early marriage and parenthood, higher rates of divorce and more drug and alcohol abuse.



I am writing this essay on social institutions. I will tell you what they are, give some examples, and tell you what purpose they serve.

First off, a social institution is is a set of organized beliefs and rules that establish how a society will attempt to meet its basic needs.

An example of social institutions today are mass media, sports, science and medicine, and the military. In earlier days social institutions were believed to be family, religion, education, economy, and the government.


Social institutions are seen to provide five major tasks. The first is replacing members, finding socially appropriate ways of replacing members who may have died or moved away. The second is teaching new members, people must learn how the group does things such as values and customs. The third is producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services. The fourth is providing order since every society needs some type of order and protection. The fifth is providing and maintaining a sense of purpose.

Social institutions are used to meet basic needs but are not always good for everyone. For example a family can have a negative affect on a child.

I hope after reading this you understand what a social institution is and what purpose they serve.

SOCIOLOGY IN OUR TIMES by Diana Kendall 8th edition

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