The State of Families: Law, Policy, and the Meanings of Relationships collects essential readings on the family to examine the multiple forms of contemporary families, the many issues facing families, the policies that regulate families, and how families—and family life—have become politicized.

This text explores various dimensions of "the family" and uses a critical approach to understand the historical, cultural, and political constructions of the family. Each section takes different aspects of the family to highlight the intersection of individual experience, structures of inequality—including race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and immigration—and state power. Readings, both original and reprinted from a wide range of experts in the field, show the multiple forms and meanings of family by delving into topics including the traditional ground of motherhood, childhood, and marriage, while also exploring cutting edge research into fatherhood, reproduction, child-free families, and welfare.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the family, The State of Families offers students in the social sciences and professionals working with families new ways to identify how social structure and institutional practice shape individual experience.

part Section I|28 pages

Defining Families

chapter 1|6 pages

The Challenge of Defining “Family”

ByLynn H. Turner, Richard West

chapter 2|7 pages

Redefining Families

Who’s In and Who’s Out?
ByMartha Minow

chapter 3|2 pages

Child Marriage Is Still Legal in the United States

ByNicholas Syrett

chapter 4|6 pages

Family, Feminism, and Race in America

ByMaxine Baca Zinn

part Section II|28 pages

Rules of Dating and Courtship

chapter 6|4 pages

From Front Porch to Back Seat

A History of the Date
ByBeth Bailey

chapter 7|2 pages

What Meeting Your Spouse Online Has in Common with Arranged Marriage

ByAmitrajeet A. Batabyal

chapter 8|3 pages

What’s So Cultural about Hookup Culture?

ByLisa Wade

chapter 11|3 pages

Think Teens Need the Sex Talk? Older Adults May Need It Even More

ByHeather Honoré Goltz, Matthew Lee Smith

part Section III|44 pages

Regulating Relationships: Marriage and Partnerships

chapter 12|9 pages

The Language of (In)Visibility

Using In-Between Spaces as a Vehicle for Empowerment in the Family
ByKatie L. Acosta

chapter 13|2 pages

Mothers and Moneymakers

How Gender Norms Shape US Marriage Migration Politics
ByGina Marie Longo

chapter 14|10 pages

Polygamy in the United States

How Marginalized Religious Communities Cope with Stigmatizing Discourses Surrounding Plural Marriage
ByMichael K. Ault, Bobbi Van Gilder

chapter 15|4 pages

The Trouble with Tolerance

BySuzanna Danuta Walters

part Section IV|31 pages

Separation and Divorce

chapter 17|3 pages

Have Children? Here’s How Kids Ruin Your Romantic Relationship

ByMatthew D. Johnson

chapter 21|9 pages

Role Ambiguity among Women Providing Care for Ex-Husbands

ByTeresa M. Cooney, Christine M. Proulx, Linley A. Snyder-Rivas, Jacquelyn J. Benson

chapter 22|2 pages

Why Fewer and Fewer Americans Are Getting Divorced

ByTera R. Jordan

part Section V|42 pages

Reproducing Families

chapter 23|9 pages

Beyond Mothers and Fathers

Ideology in a Patriarchal Society
ByBarbara Katz Rothman

chapter 24|2 pages

Why Coverage of Prescription Contraception Matters for Men as Well as Women

ByKrystale Littlejohn

chapter 25|2 pages

New Evidence about Women’s Experience with Abortion- Compared to Carrying Unwanted Pregnancies to Term

ByDiana Greene Foster, Rana E. Barar, Heather Gould

chapter 26|8 pages

Moral Women, Immoral Technologies

How Devout Women Negotiate Gender, Religion, and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
ByDanielle Czarnecki

chapter 27|8 pages

Race Matters in Lesbian Donor Insemination

Whiteness and Heteronormativity as Co-Constituted Narratives
ByMaura Ryan, Amanda Moras

chapter 28|2 pages

Immigration Policies Can Make the Difference between Life and Death for Newborn US Children

ByMaria Isabel Rodriguez, Jens Hainmueller

chapter 29|3 pages

Born in the USA

Having a Baby Is Costly and Confusing, Even for a Health Policy Expert
BySimon F. Haeder

part Section VI|38 pages

Building Families through Adoption

chapter 30|8 pages

Race and “Value”

Black and White Illegitimate Babies,1945–1965
ByRickie Solinger

chapter 31|3 pages

International Adoptions Have Dropped 72 Percent Since 2005 – Here’s Why

ByMark Montgomery, Irene Powell

chapter 32|10 pages

Letting Her Go

Western Adoptive Families’ Search and Reunion with Chinese Birth Parents
ByLeslie Kim Wang, Iris Chin Ponte, Elizabeth Weber Ollen

chapter 33|9 pages

“It Was the Cadillac of Adoption Agencies”

Intersections of Social Class, Race, and Sexuality in Gay Men’s Adoption Narratives
ByDana Berkowitz

part Section VII|25 pages

Families without Children

chapter 34|4 pages

Childless… Or Childfree?

ByAmy Blackstone

chapter 35|9 pages

Unwomanly Conduct

The Challenges of Intentional Childlessness
ByCarolyn M. Morell

chapter 37|3 pages

Hard Evidence

Does Fertility Really “Drop Off a Cliff” at 35?
ByNicholas Raine-Fenning

part Section VIII|40 pages

Children and Teens in Families

chapter 38|2 pages

Where Has Teen Car Culture Gone?

ByGary Cross

chapter 40|11 pages

White Families and Race

Colour-Blind and Colour-Conscious Approaches to White Racial Socialization
ByMargaret A. Hagerman

chapter 41|3 pages

When “Helicopters” Go to School

Who Gets Rescued and Who Gets Left Behind?
ByJessica Calarco

chapter 42|3 pages

Missing School Is a Given for Children of Migrant Farmworkers

ByAggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

chapter 43|8 pages

Stigma Management among Children of Incarcerated Parents

ByKate Luther

chapter 44|2 pages

Why Today’s Teens Aren’t in Any Hurry to Grow Up

ByJean Twenge

chapter 45|2 pages

Rituals of Childhood

ByKieran Healy

part Section IX|40 pages

Experiences and Expectations of Motherhood

chapter 46|4 pages

Mothering While Disabled

ByAngela Frederick

chapter 48|5 pages

The Joy of Cooking

BySarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott, Joslyn Brenton

chapter 49|9 pages

The Deadly Challenges of Raising African American Boys

Navigating the Controlling Image of the “Thug”
ByDawn Marie Dow

chapter 50|3 pages

The ‘Organic Child’ Ideal Holds Mothers to an Impossible Standard

ByKate Cairns, Norah MacKendrick, Josée Johnston

chapter 51|8 pages

“Not My Way, Sesha. Your Way. Slowly”

A Personal Narrative on Raising a Child with Profound Intellectual Disabilities
ByEva Feder Kittay

chapter 52|2 pages

Kids Don’t Damage Women’s Careers—Men Do

ByJessica Valenti

part Section X|37 pages

Defining Fatherhood

chapter 53|9 pages

Organized Youth Sport and Parenting in Public and Private Spaces

ByDawn E. Trussell, Susan M. Shaw

chapter 54|3 pages

Who’s Your Daddy? Don’t Ask a DNA Test

ByNara Milanich

chapter 55|10 pages

Biology and Conformity

Expectations of Fathers in Reunification in the Child Welfare System
ByJennifer A. Reich

chapter 56|2 pages

Navigating the Tricky Waters of Being a Stepdad

ByJoshua Gold

chapter 57|4 pages

I Am Who I Need to Be

Reflections on Parental Identity Development from a Father of a Child with Disabilities
ByShailen Singh

chapter 58|3 pages

Fathers Also Want to “Have It All”

ByGayle Kaufman

part Section XI|34 pages

Poverty and Family Policy

chapter 59|5 pages

As American As Apple Pie

Poverty and Welfare
ByMark R. Rank

chapter 60|4 pages

How Racism Has Shaped Welfare Policy in America Since 1935

ByAlma Carten

chapter 61|3 pages

The Diaper Dilemma

ByJennifer M. Randles

chapter 63|8 pages

Negotiating the Discourse of Race within the United States Welfare System

ByVicki Lens, Colleen Cary

chapter 64|3 pages

LGBT Poverty in the United States

ByM.V. Lee Badgett, Soon Kyu Choi, Bianca D.M. Wilson

chapter 65|3 pages

What It Means to Be “Under-Connected” in Lower-Income Families

ByVikki S. Katz

part Section XII|38 pages


chapter 66|6 pages

Aging in Places

ByStacy Torres

chapter 67|9 pages

Doing It My Way

Old Women, Technology, and Wellbeing
ByMeika Loe

chapter 68|2 pages

Could Different Cultures Teach Us Something about Dementia?

ByRichard Gunderman, Lily Wolf

chapter 69|8 pages

The Perils and Pleasures of Aging

How Women’s Sexualities Change across the Life Course
ByLisa R. Miller

chapter 70|3 pages

Think You’re Not Having Enough Sex? Try Being a Senior in Assisted Living

ByElisabeth O. Burgess, Alexis A. Bender, Christina Barmon