State of Families: Law, Policy, and the Meanings of Relationships

The State of Families: Law, Policy, and the Meanings of Relationships collects essential readings on the family to examine the multiple forms of contemporary families, the many issues facing families, the policies that regulate families, and how families—and family life—have become politicized.

This text explores various dimensions of “the family” and uses a critical approach to understand the historical, cultural, and political constructions of the family. Each section takes different aspects of the family to highlight the intersection of individual experience, structures of inequality—including race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and immigration—and state power. Readings, both original and reprinted from a wide range of experts in the field, show the multiple forms and meanings of family by delving into topics including the traditional ground of motherhood, childhood, and marriage, while also exploring cutting edge research into fatherhood, reproduction, child-free families, and welfare.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the family, The State of Families offers students in the social sciences and professionals working with families new ways to identify how social structure and institutional practice shape individual experience.

“The State of Families is an exemplary reader I highly recommend for any introductory course on the family. This collection covers a diverse range of family forms and features new and classic works that address social issues of citizenship, gender and race.” – Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Professor of Sociology and Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Southern California 

“The collection offers brief, lively essays which shed light on crucial aspects of family life. It is an excellent resource for teaching. Highly recommended!” –Annette Lareau, author, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life.