Changing American Families

Prentice Hall
Judith R. Aulette  
Total pages
December 2009
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Focusing on insights from scholars from a broad range of disciplines in addition to sociology, this text explores both the structural features of society that shape families and the everyday personal experiences of individual family members--as well as the interplay between the two. The book provides readers with insights about the political character of families by examining both the public policy debates that surround families and the tensions and negotiations that occur within families. 


  • Emphasizes a feminist model, gender, and gender inequality, across a wide range of topics--work and economy, housework, love and sex, marriage, parenting, divorce and remarriage, family violence.
  • Focuses on the diversity of experience of families by social class and race ethnicity by reviewing the history of a wide of range of communities within the United States and by presenting the most recent research based evidence on all topics related to families.
  • Integrates perspectives from mainstream family sociology and other social sciences.
  • Every chapter has three parts:
    • (1) The key issues related to that topic
    • (2) theoretical debates that exist within the field
    • (3) human agency and social movements - the actions people have taken to cope with, resist, or change specific family problems.  
  • A "Micro-Macro Connection" feature in every chapter enables students to see the interplay between macro analysis (society and its large structural features) and micro analysis (the everyday personal experiences of individuals.)
  • Two early chapters (2 & 3) give a broad historical overview, and describe the experiences of Euro-Americans and African Americans and Latino Americans as well as other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Each chapter includes tables and figures filled with up-to-date empirical data gathered from universal data sources such as the Census and individual studies.
  • Social research boxes illustrate the wide range of methods sociologists use to examine issues and conduct research.


New to this Edition


  • The startling recent changes in the economic landscape and their affects on families are made central to the new edition.
  • More than 60 tables and figures providing quantitative information on families in the U.S. 
  • Tables and figures present expanded information on the diversity of experience among racial ethnic groups
  • Policy issues are updated, such as debates around gay marriage rights, the problems with welfare reform as it has unfolded since the 1990s, and the reconceptualization of care work.
  • Chapter 11. Battering and Marital Rape has been thoroughly updated. This edition reports and reflects on the national data coming from the CDC and the Department of Justice.  In addition, changes in laws and policies mean that the problem has shifted from one of identifying or acknowledging issues or developing laws and policies to address them, to ensuring that the laws and policies are implemented and that they don't create further problems "blow back".


Table of Contents




Chapter 1. How to Study Families in the Twenty-First Century    

Chapter 2. A History of Families with a Focus on Euro-Americans    

Chapter 3.  A History of U.S. Families with a Focus on African Americans   

Chapter 4. Families and the Economic System   

Chapter 5. Families and the Organization of Race, Class, and Gender    

Chapter 6.  Work and Family   

Chapter 7. Housework    

Chapter 8. Love and Sex    

Chapter 9. Marriage    

Chapter 10. Divorce and Remarriage    

Chapter 11. Battering and Marital Rape  

Chapter 12. Parents    

Chapter 13. Children

Chapter 14. Families, Family Policy and the State    




Judy Aulette is a professor of sociology and women's studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she has been teaching sociology of families for 22 years. She is also an adjunct at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town South Africa where she teaches courses in family in the Social Work Programme. Her research is in the area of gender, families, and social movements. Most recently she is conducting evaluation research of HIV education for the National AIDS Foundation.  In addition to the Pearson text Changing American Families, which is in its 3rd edition, she has written books on the sociology of gender and African women.  Professor Aulette has been the recipient of two teaching and research Fulbrights to Poland and South Africa.  She has also taught in Scotland and England.   Professor Aulette identifies herself as a scholar activist and along with her work in academia has been involved in community organization around poverty, labor issues, and women's rights.

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