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Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family

Communication, Identity, and Difference

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Edited By Jordan Soliz and Colleen Warner Colaner

Despite growing recognition of the diversity of family forms and structures, discourses among family scholars and practitioners as well as in popular culture continue to operate from the assumption that families are fairly homogeneous in terms of the values and beliefs, social positions, and identities of individual family members. Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family provides a unique and important perspective on how communication within and about families related to issues of identity and difference can ameliorate negative processes and, at times, potentially amplify positive outcomes such as well-being and relational solidarity. Chapters in this edited volume focus on divergent social identities in the family (e.g., interfaith families, multiethnic-racial families, acculturation and immigration) as well as differences emerging from family formative processes (e.g., stepfamilies, in-law relationships, foster care). In addition to synthesizing the current state of the scholarship in these particular family contexts, each chapter discusses the interplay between families and the larger social and cultural context. For instance, how does grandparent-grandchild communication influence attitudes toward older adults and aging? Can we improve interfaith dialogue in larger societal interactions by understanding communication in interfaith families? How do ideologies of social class and social discourses about adoption and foster care influence family functioning? Chapters conclude with a discussion on implications for scholars and family practitioners. The edited volume would make an ideal primary or secondary required text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses on families as well as specialized family courses on understudied family relationships and forms. The volume also serves as an important resource for family scholars and practitioners.

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Preface (Colleen Warner Colaner and Jordan Soliz)

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Preface

Colleen Warner Colaner and Jordan Soliz

Despite evidence to the contrary (Coontz, 1993), families are still conceptualized in idealized ways in popular discourse. Such depictions often reflect mainstream ideologies and put forth a view that families are homogenous entities in terms family members’ social identities, worldviews, and value orientations. In reality, families are a collective of individuals that often vary in their values and beliefs as well as social positions and identities (e.g., socio-economic status, age groups, political affiliation). Moreover, the last few decades have seen a dramatic increase in family compositions in which so-called “traditional” social boundaries are transcended (e.g., interfaith families, multiethnic families) as individuals marry outside of and/or select out of these social boundaries. For instance, marriages and families that cross traditional racial-ethnic divides have been growing drastically over the last decade in the United States (Pew Research Center, 2014). As such, discourses about family are changing within and outside of the family (Galvin, 2006). Families are not only more diverse than what is depicted in popular perception and traditional discourse, but one could argue that it is in the family where most of our more in-depth interactions with those with different worldviews and social identities occur (Soliz & Rittenour, 2012). Further, formative processes in families (e.g., marriage) by their very nature can create differences with and across family relationships. In fact, much of the popular discourse on step-families and in-law relationships tend to overemphasize the negative consequences of these “new” families...

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