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Marriages and Stepfamilies

1. The remarried family has been called an incomplete institution. What does this mean? How does this affect the people involved in a remarriage? Include a discussion of kin networks and family law. Do you think this situation is changing?

2. What evidence can you gather from observation or your own personal experience or both to show that stepfamilies (a) may be more culturally acceptable today than in the past and (b) remain negatively stereotyped as not as functional or as normal as first-marriage, nuclear families?

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An institution, in a sociological context, refers to a standardized set of relationships in a culture. In other words, they are "organizations of social roles which imprint their stamps upon the individual, modifying his external conduct as well as his inner life." (Cherlin, 1978, p. 634) They include politics, religion, language, economics, and the family. If set of relationships becomes a complete institution, then almost everyone in that culture accepts it as the acceptable way to behave.

The family, as one of the institutions in a society, is a way to control reproduction, child rearing, and the passing on of assets from one generation to another. Modern sociologists have observed that the institutional basis of family unit in the United States has been de-emphasized, replacing it with the family being held together more by consensus and mutual affection.

Most institutions are supported ...

Solution Summary

This is a discussion of the stepfamily and remarriage as an incomplete social institution, and whether or not it is possible to make a success of the newly made relationship. It also discusses the effect of relatives and recently established family law on remarriage.