Stepfamilies : History, Research, and Policy book cover
1st Edition

History, Research, and Policy

ISBN 9780789003386
Published December 10, 1997 by Routledge
346 Pages

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Book Description

Stepfamilies: History, Research, and Policy examines language use, laws, cultural stereotypes, media images, and social policies and practices to create an understanding of how predominant views about stepfamilies and stepfamily members are constructed within society. As the rates of divorce and remarriage continue to increase, it is more important than ever to overcome nuclear family ideology and abandon the model of research that compares stepfamilies with nonstepfamilies. This book shows you how honor and empowerment can be attained in new family structures and how alternative kin networks can be just as healthy as the traditional nuclear family unit.

As this book examines the ability of different societies to integrate different family forms into mainstream notions of “family,” you will realize the damaging effects of treating stepfamilies as incomplete, undesirable institutions. In fact, Stepfamilies: History, Research, and Policy will challenge your notions of family over and over again, as it discusses:

  • key relationships in stepfamilies
  • stepfather involvement in parenting after remarriage
  • meaning of gender in a stepfamily
  • differences in “investment” between biological and nonbiological parents
  • demographic change and significant shifts in the social and cultural implications of stepfamilies
  • attempting to reconstruct a household like that of a previous marriage
  • the impact of stereotypes on the internal dynamics of stepfamilies and on the interactions of stepfamilies with outsiders
  • the absence of guidelines and cultural norms for role performance and problem solving in stepfamilies

    Stepfamilies: History, Research, and Policy discusses both the difficulties of forming new families and households as well as the factors that promote family cohesiveness and integration in stepfamilies. From stereotypes of stepmothers to ambiguous legal relationships to child maltreatment in stepfamilies to sibling relations, there isn’t much that the penetrating lens of this book leaves uncovered.

Table of Contents

Contents Introduction

  • Stepfamilies from a Historical Perspective
  • Stepfamilies in 1984 and Today--A Scholarly Perspective
  • Confronting Nuclear Family Bias in Stepfamily Research
  • Stepfamily Variations
  • How Society Views Stepfamilies
  • Stepfamilies from the Stepfamily’s Perspective
  • Stepfamily as Project
  • Stepfamilies from the Child’s Perspective: From Stepfamily to Close Relationships
  • Stepfamilies from Siblings’ Perspectives
  • The Stepparent Role from a Gender Perspective
  • Stepfamily Therapy from the Client’s Perspective
  • Current Knowledge About Child Abuse in Stepfamilies
  • Stepfamilies from a Legal Perspective
  • Stepfamilies from a Policy Perspective: Guidance from the Empirical Literature
  • Stepfamily Policy from the Perspective of a Stepfamily Organization
  • Family Life Education Programs for Stepfamilies
  • Step- and Foster Families: A Comparison
  • Index

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Irene Lela, PhD. is Asociate Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Oslo College in Oslo. Norway. She is the author of three books, Stepfamilies: Variation and manifold, Understand Everyday Life with a Symbolic lnteractionistic Perspective, and Relation. Marvin B Sussman, PhD, is UNIDEL Professor of Human Behavior Emeritus at the College of Human Resources at the University of Delaware. He is also a member of the CORE Faculty of the Union Graduate School of Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. A member of many professional organizations, he received the 1980 Ernest W. Burgess Award of the National Council on Family Relations. In 1983. Dr. Sussman was elected to the prestigious Academy of Groves for scholarly contributions to the field, and, in 1984, he was awarded a lifelong membership for services to the Groves Conference on Marriage and the Family.