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Trends in Scholarly Writing on Family Structure Since 1977 in the Journal of Marriage and Family: Part 2 March 23, 2007

Posted by Ninja Clement in Sociology.
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Source: “Trends in Scholarly Writing on Family Structure Since 1977 in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Part Two – The Denial: Downplaying the Consequences of Family Structure for Children″, by Norval Glen and Thomas Sylvester for the Institute for American Values (2006)

In an earlier paper (Glenn & Sylvester, 2006), we reported a study of the articles (266 in all) published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF)* from 1977-2002 that dealt with the relationship between family structure and child well-being. We found that, over that period, family scholars became more concerned about the impact of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing on children. Despite the overall shift in scholarly views, a number of family scholars still maintain relatively sanguine views about the increase in single-parent families and its implications for child well-being. In the course of our research, we found a number of recurring arguments from this perspective.

In this paper, we discuss common arguments employed by authors of articles in the JMF who took relatively sanguine views toward unwed childbearing and divorce. We find that, in many cases, the apparent scholarly disputes about family structure are merely matters of rhetorical emphasis. Some arguments from scholars who take a sanguine view provide useful antidotes to overly gloomy views of divorce and father absence, but others appear to be ideologically driven efforts to discount and minimize strong evidence for consequences of family structure for children. A few of the arguments suffer from fundamental analytical errors, and even more serious, a few scholars seem to want family researchers to stop asking questions about the impact of family structure—an apparent example of the anti-scientific view that a lack of knowledge is better than knowledge.

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