The Family Today: Two Perspectives

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 5
Words: 1211
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College


“Families as They Really Are” is an important source that tries to explore the concept of families today. Risman (2010), the editor of this source has discussed today’s families based on different perspectives that are considered critical in highlighting important aspects contented in families in modern society. Such aspects include the challenges, situations and the role played by families today. From Risman’s discussion, it is clear that families are crucial entities or institutions in every society. Family forms a strong foundation in each society in the world because it is the unit of production and reproduction. These include the economic, political, and social institutions. Family like any other entity has laws that are necessary since they control and guide people’s behavior in society. Such laws are what society regards as norms and standards of conduct. Family is a complex entity because it consists of members of different personalities. Traditional societies are quite different from modern societies. The transition from traditional to modern society has affected family structure greatly. The two perspectives the study intended to address or explore in families as they are included are today families breaking down. If so where are they heading? How and why? (Christian perspective). The second perspective is based on marriages in families today and is the traditional perspective (Risman, 2010).


These two perspectives demonstrate the challenges and situations experienced it families today. According to Risman, families today are quite different compared to traditional ones. The family structure has drastically changed over the last ten decades and this has been spearheaded by the emergent of modern ways of living or lifestyles that came alongside advancement in technology. In traditional society, families played major role in shaping the behaviors of their members. The family determined the conduct of family members in and outside the family compound. It is evident that families today are breaking because members who have acquired modernized ideas and thoughts do not recognize the value of family. Many individuals ignore marriage, which is an important aspect of family. Through civilization, people have come to learn that many incidents of conflicts are found in families more often than life outside relationships or marriage. Economic status in modern or today’s families is a factor that doomed necessary because it determines the marital status of many individuals. Concerning this, many people are escaping from family responsibilities by avoiding marriage (Risman, 2010).

The use of science has led to the emergence of advanced technologies through which individuals can have babies without having sex. Religion today supports the marriage of one wife to one husband, which is contrary to traditional belief that many wives and children are symbols of wealth. Gender equity that has emerged in the last few decades has eroded the role of the family severely. Families today have empowered women thus violating the role of patriarchy found in traditional societies. Women have the power to decide and provide for their families just like men do and therefore, it is the reason they are considering marriage as being meaningless to them hence the breakdown of families today. Family planning is another factor contributing greatly to the breakdown of families today. The use of contraceptive devices has led to death of many mothers in families today that fact made today’s families be considered as breaking down or diminishing which is quite a pathetic issue. The gender revolution is another element hindering the progress of families today because it has led to creation of fertile grounds through which incidents of conflicts have become rampant. Through gender revolution, gender roles have been neglected and this has led to poor relationships in families today (Risman, 2010).

The second perspective (traditional perspective) that is regarded as critical in this study is marriage and how it is conducted in modern society. As discussed or mentioned earlier in the study, marriage is important to factor in society because it forms the basis of the family. Without marriage, family, which is an important entity in each society in the world, cannot be achieved. The gigantic aim of marriage is to start a family. Marriages in traditional society are different from those conducted in modern society. Traditional society advocates for polygamous marriage while modern society supports monogamous marriage. Families today comprise of the husband, wife and the children and it is the reason that scholars refer to them as nuclear families. Traditional families are composed of one husband, several wives, many children, grandfather and grandmother portraying the meaning of extended families (Stacey, 2011).

During ancient times, marriages were not religiously based. Churches were rare since many people conducted their worships from shrines. This made it difficult for the church to conduct marriage weddings. Families today are considered different from those of early times since marriages are determined by the church. People in today’s families believe that peace and loyalty in the family can only be attained when the marriage is conducted in the church. They consider holy marriage as the one whose couples indulged in a wedding. Challenges in today’s families are presented by modernization that has led to high standards of living. People are planning for wedding parties with an aim of acquiring wealth but not the real meaning of marriage. In this regard, marriages in families today do not last for long because the theme of marriage was attached to wealth or money more often than the love between the parties. Race is among other factors that affected families today. Young men and women have the mandate to choose for their couples in families today and this has led to high levels of intermarriages (Balswick & Balswick, 2007).

The introduction and use of foreign languages have made people marry from different races. Families today experience bountiful incidents of conflict because of differences in cultures resulting from intermarriages. During the traditional society, the parents determined choosing of marriage couple. Young men would only marry from families where their parents had established strong relationships. Marriage was therefore considered as a strong tie between marrying families. Peace and loyalty used to prevail in such families because their relationships are strongly held even from before. Marriage in families today is controlled by law whereby the two couples are supposed to sign marriage contracts and are issued with a marriage certificate. This has given women the opportunity to reclaim a portion of their husbands’ wealth after divorce. Change in gender a role, which are also referred to as gender revolution, has affected marriages in families today. Women are able to enter into men’s professions such as engineering, lawyers, and doctors meaning that the role of marriage is meaningless to them since they can care and provide for their families without help from men (Magstadt, 2008).


The study is interesting in that it explores the concept of families today based on two important perspectives that include reasons for the breakup of families today and the marriage in families today. The study compares and contrasts the traditional and modern (families today) families to explore or highlight the challenges, situations, and issues on families today. Risman (2010) in his work “families as they really are” has been considered as a useful source since it entirely conceptualizes families in modern society, which is the central area of the study.


Balswick, O.J. & Balswick, K.J. (2007). The family: a Christian perspective on the contemporary home. United Kingdom: Baker Academic.

Magstadt, M.T. (2008). Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions, and Issues. New Jersey: Cengage Learning.

Risman, J.B (2010). Families as they really are. New York: W.W. Norton.

Stacey, J. (2011). Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China. London: NYU Press.