The United States (US) Census Bureau defines a family as a group of two people or more living together and related by marriage, birth, or adoption. Sociologists describe the family as an institution with unique characteristics in relation to the human culture. Researchers, in contrast, define the family depending on the aspect relevant to their findings. The modern world, however, has instigated the formation of other family structures besides the nuclear family. An example of such a structure is the blended family, attributed to the high divorce rate especially in the US. Studies indicate that political, economic, and social situations affect the structure and functions of the family. The changes in the family structure have altered the values and culture in the US. It, therefore, is necessary to establish the extent to which the cultural values have been affected by family structure, and examine the role of socialization in these changes.
Demographic indicators in the US imply that the traditional family setting is about to vanish. This has been attributed to the changes in family structure. According to the US culture, the family is the only societal institution that is conceptualized as natural and essential. Owing to the increase in divorce rates, fertility levels are decreasing while union disruptions and single parenthood are on the rise. The increase in divorce rates among individuals in the US is a threat to the continued existence of the family. The culture and values of the US emphasize uphold of the family unit because it is an institution that promotes socialization. According to Parsons, a sociologist, the family unit has a function to provide a stable environment and socialize children into a system of values (Moghadam, 2004). This means that the changes in the family structure have altered such values in the US.
The extent to which the prevailing family structures in the US are able to transmit beliefs, culture, ideas, and values is becoming limited. A blended family structure, for example, is one filled with conflicts because a partner may disregard the children they found in the marriage. These conflicts have contributed to the limited transmission of cultural values and beliefs. Similarly, the continuation of the family structure is facing extinction because the children reared in a blended family, for example, may opt out of marriage in future to avoid conflicts. A comparison of the family structures and child outcomes between the US and Sweden generated considerable results showing an alarming trend about the US. According to this study, children reared in single parenthood families in the US were likely to compete in school and were less social (Anders, Ginther, & Marianne, 2007). This shows that the family structures have affected the education culture and social values in the US.
The changes in family structure are evidenced in the socialization process. Socialization refers to the process of learning to become members of the society by gaining values, behaviors, and skills of one’s culture. Today’s society has initiated changes in the family structure; individual perceptions regarding race, gender, religion have allowed freedom in the way families are formed (Korn, 2000). Example of such freedom is evident with the recent acceptance of the same sex and interracial marriages. Given the socialization process, myths about the golden age era are easy to form, especially during times of socioeconomic difficulty or social change in the US (Moghadam, 2004).This signifies that the socialization process has played a significant role in the changing family structures.
The changes in family structures have altered the culture and values in the US. The traditional family setting, for example, is diminishing because of the increase in the divorce rate. Blended families have risen from divorce prevalence; these families are characterized by conflicts and the children reared in them are likely to be socially withdrawn. This withdraw discourages socialization, hence endangering cultural beliefs and values. The socialization process has also played a significant role in these family changes. This is because individual perceptions regarding religion, race, and gender among other factors are changed through socialization.
Anders Björklund, Ginther, D. K., & Marianne Sundström. (2007). Family structure and child outcomes in the USA and sweden. Journal of Population Economics, 20(1), 183.
Korn, E. (2000). On the formation of family structures. Public Choice, 105(3-4), 357-372.
Moghadam, V. M. (2004). Patriarchy in transition: Women and the changing family in the middle east. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 35(2), 137-162.