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

part Section II|28 pages

Rules of Dating and Courtship

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

chapter 13|2 pages

Mothers and Moneymakers

How Gender Norms Shape US Marriage Migration Politics

chapter 14|10 pages

Polygamy in the United States

How Marginalized Religious Communities Cope with Stigmatizing Discourses Surrounding Plural Marriage

part Section IV|31 pages

Separation and Divorce

part Section V|42 pages

Reproducing Families

chapter 23|9 pages

Beyond Mothers and Fathers

Ideology in a Patriarchal Society

chapter 26|8 pages

Moral Women, Immoral Technologies

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

chapter 27|8 pages

Race Matters in Lesbian Donor Insemination

Whiteness and Heteronormativity as Co-Constituted Narratives

chapter 29|3 pages

Born in the USA

Having a Baby Is Costly and Confusing, Even for a Health Policy Expert

part Section VI|38 pages

Building Families through Adoption

chapter 30|8 pages

Race and “Value”

Black and White Illegitimate Babies,1945–1965

chapter 32|10 pages

Letting Her Go

Western Adoptive Families’ Search and Reunion with Chinese Birth Parents

chapter 33|9 pages

“It Was the Cadillac of Adoption Agencies”

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

part Section VII|25 pages

Families without Children

chapter 34|4 pages

Childless… Or Childfree?

chapter 35|9 pages

Unwomanly Conduct

The Challenges of Intentional Childlessness

chapter 37|3 pages

Hard Evidence

Does Fertility Really “Drop Off a Cliff” at 35?

part Section VIII|40 pages

Children and Teens in Families

chapter 38|2 pages

Where Has Teen Car Culture Gone?

chapter 40|11 pages

White Families and Race

Colour-Blind and Colour-Conscious Approaches to White Racial Socialization

chapter 41|3 pages

When “Helicopters” Go to School

Who Gets Rescued and Who Gets Left Behind?

chapter 45|2 pages

Rituals of Childhood

part Section IX|40 pages

Experiences and Expectations of Motherhood

chapter 46|4 pages

Mothering While Disabled

chapter 49|9 pages

The Deadly Challenges of Raising African American Boys

Navigating the Controlling Image of the “Thug”

chapter 51|8 pages

“Not My Way, Sesha. Your Way. Slowly”

A Personal Narrative on Raising a Child with Profound Intellectual Disabilities

part Section X|37 pages

Defining Fatherhood

chapter 55|10 pages

Biology and Conformity

Expectations of Fathers in Reunification in the Child Welfare System

chapter 57|4 pages

I Am Who I Need to Be

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

part Section XI|34 pages

Poverty and Family Policy

part Section XII|38 pages