Sociological Theory and Trends in Family Life

Comparison of Gender Stratification Theories

The structural-functionalist approach is based on the foundation of the family as the most essential unit in society (Lindsey, 2016). In the family, everyone is assigned different roles to ensure the smooth running of the home. Most functionalists adopt a traditionalist view of the family where the father is the breadwinner, and the mother is mainly in charge of domestic responsibilities. These roles are taught to their progeny as girls take up their mothers’ roles, and boys follow in their fathers’ footsteps. Their roles in the family are then transposed onto their roles in society.

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The social-conflict theory assumes the society has scarce resources (Lindsey, 2016). The limited nature of this environment predisposes its occupants to competition to gain these perks for themselves. In this approach, the groups are split according to sex: male and female. The dominant group is assumed to be men due to their enhanced physical strength. Conflict arises when one group starts to take advantage of the weaker group.

During the twentieth century, women evolved from housewives to become economically independent. This has resulted in them taking higher power in the family and society. This mandates equal power sharing as their economic strength grows.

Symbolic interactionism is founded on the various perceptions that society attaches to the genders (Lindsey, 2016). This means that in any interactions, a person will try to communicate by appealing to the behaviors or attitudes perceived to be adopted by the genders. For instance, when approaching a man, warmth and being soft can be mistaken for weakness, while these qualities are held in high regard by women. This approach can be likened to the stereotypes adopted by the society and how they nuance the interactions within the community.

Divorce Trends in the United States

Divorce statistics in the United States show an interesting picture. In people aged above 65 years, the divorce rate has tripled since 1990 (Stepler, 2017). For people aged 50 years and over, it has doubled from 5 per 1000 married people in 1990 to 10 in 2015 (Stepler, 2017). Although the rates of those between 40 to 49 years in higher than those aged 50 plus, this rate has not grown as fast as those in their fifties (Stepler, 2017).

The divorce rates for persons between 25 and 39 years has dropped from 30 per 1000 married persons in 1990 to 24 in 2015 (Stepler, 2017). This study shows a contrast between the baby boomers and the millennials. The baby boomer generation had higher divorce rates at the same age compared to the millennials. Their tendency for divorce has persisted in their middle age years. This is in stark contrast to the popular societal opinion where millennials are perceived to have unstable marriages.

Divorce negatively affects family life as it rids the structure of one important figure, either the mother or the father. The absence of a parent negatively affects the child’s development, especially socially and psychologically. This is further augmented by the stigma associated with divorce. Due to the limited understanding of children, they might sometimes blame themselves in these situations.

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The lower divorce rates in millennials are linked to their higher education status, thus better financial welfare. With such marriages, the family is a more democratic environment, and there is a greater appreciation for each other. This leads to enhanced satisfaction from both partners, boding well for their marriages.


Lindsey, L. (2016). Gender roles (6th ed., pp. 6-15). New York: Routledge.

Stepler, R. (2017). Divorce rates up for Americans 50 and older, led by Baby Boomers. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Sociological Theory and Trends in Family Life." May 31, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Sociological Theory and Trends in Family Life." May 31, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Sociological Theory and Trends in Family Life'. 31 May.

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