Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds

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488 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
December 2017
Print ISBN: 9781773380216


Now in its third edition, Family Matters offers an enriched discussion on a variety of substantive factors affecting Canadian families across a life course. Adopting a feminist sociological approach throughout, this popular textbook explores family structures and functions through a critical, gendered lens and individually examines how issues related to gender, social change, social policy, and poverty influence family life.

A leading name in sociology, Barbara A. Mitchell takes a closer look at LAT partnerships and polyamorous relationships, and features additional material on skipped generation families, disability in families, participatory research methods, parent-child relationships, and the impact of communication technologies. Approachable and concise, Family Matters is the perfect resource for students enrolled in half-year, introductory, or advanced level courses in family sociology and gender studies.

Related Titles

Table of Contents

List of Boxes, Tables, and Figures


Chapter 1: Family Matters: An Introduction to the Sociology of Canadian Families
“We Are Family,” But What Are Families?
“The Sky Is Falling”: The Family Decline Hypothesis
Evaluating the Family Decline Hypothesis: A Brief Overview of Key Socio-demographic, Cultural, and Technological Trends in Family Life

Chapter 2: Family Theory and Methods: Windows on Families and Family Research
Structural Functionalism: Families as Stable and Harmonious and “Leave It to Beaver”
Social Conflict, Political Economy, and Gender Theorizing: Inequality, Class, and Power Relations as Fundamental Features of Family Life
A Political Economy View on Family Life: The Family as a Unit of Consumption
Feminist and Masculinity Perspectives: Gender and the Family
Social Constructionism and the Symbolic Interaction
Perspective: Families Creating Their Own Realities
Social Exchange Theory: Relationships and Family Life as “Fair Trade”
The Family Development Perspective: A Hybrid Theory
Emergent Family Theory: The Life Course Perspective
Other Windows on Families
Which Theory Is Right? Critically Evaluating Family Theories
Family Research Methods: A Brief Introduction

Chapter 3: Canadian Families in Historical, Cross-Cultural, and Global Context
Canadian Families in Historical Context
Canadian Families in Cross-Cultural Context: The Myth of the Universal Family
Worldwide Trends: Globalization, Capitalization, Information Technologies, and Transnational Families

Chapter 4: First Families: Indigenous Peoples and Family Life in Pre-Post Confederate Canada
A Short Anthropological History of Canadian Families
The Residential School Experience
Selected Contemporary Family Trends and Issues
Redressing Historical Injustices

Chapter 5: Immigration and the Changing Ethnic Mosaic of Canadian Families Introduction
Immigration Patterns Post-Confederacy
State Policies, Immigration, and Family Life
Refugee Families in Canada
Selected Ethno-Cultural Family Trends and Issues
Future Trends: The Invisibility of Visible Minorities in the Future?

Chapter 6: More than a Labour of Love: Gender, Unpaid Work, and the Cult of Domesticity
Patterns in Labour Force Participation and the “New Economy”
Unpaid Work, the Shadow Economy, and the Ideology of Separate Spheres


Chapter 7: Close Relations in Youth and Young Adulthood: Establishing Partnerships and Forming Families
Dating, Romance, Love, and Sexuality
Living Apart and Together: Trends in LAT Relationships and Cohabitation
“Tying the Knot”: Going to the Chapel … and I’m Going to Get Married
A Portrait of “Mixed” Unions
“Along Comes Baby”: The Transition to Parenthood

Chapter 8: Families and Children in the Early Years: Childhood, Socialization, and Shifting Ideologies of Parenthood
What Is Socialization? What Are the Key Agents of Socialization?
Theories on Childhood Socialization
Cultural Shifts in Child-Rearing Advice and Ideologies of Parenthood

Chapter 9: All Our Families: Diversity, Challenge, and Continuity in Non-Conforming Coupled Relationships
Changing Attitudes toward Same-Sex Partnerships
Ideological Positioning of Gays and Lesbians and “The” Family
Fluid and Dynamic Identities and the Prevalence of LGBTQ Families
Gay and Lesbian Couple Relationships and Patterns of Support
Linked Lives: Intergenerational Relations, Friendship Networks, and Children
The Battle Continues: Rights, Entitlements, and Challenges Ahead

Chapter 10: Family Dissolution and the Brady Bunch: Separation, Divorce, and Remarriage
Trends in Separation, Divorce, and Remarriage
Consequences of Divorce and Remarriage for Adults
The Brady Bunch or Wicked Stepmother? Consequences of Divorce and Remarriage for Children
Selected Issues in Divorce: The Law, Property Division, and Custody

Chapter 11: Families in the Middle and the Launching of Children: Home-Leaving, Boomerang Kids, and the Empty Nest
Who Is a Home-Leaver? A Mature Co-Resider? A Boomerang Kid?
The Timing of Home-Leaving and Pathways Out of the Parental Home
Leaving the Nest “Early” or “Late”: Factors Contributing to Premature or Postponed Home-Leaving
Back Home Again: Contemporary Patterns of Home Returning
Linked Lives: Implications of Leaving Home and Co-Residence for Intergenerational Relations

Chapter 12: Aging Families and the Sunset Years: Caregiving and Support across the Generations
Defining Aging Families and the Elderly
Families of the Past: Golden Age or Rose-Coloured Glasses?
The Longevity Revolution and Other Socio-demographic Patterns
The Ties that Bind: Patterns of Support across the Generations
Selected Issues Facing Today’s Aging Families


Chapter 13: In Sickness and in Health: Families Facing Health Challenges and the Creation of Healthy Lifestyles
The Social Determinants of Health: Why Are Some Families Healthier than Others?
Selected Health Challenges and Implications for Family Relationships
Lifestyles, Families, and Communities: A Political Economy Perspective
Health Promotion and Healthy Public Policy: Should We Target Individuals, Families, or Social Conditions?

Chapter 14: Trying to Make Ends Meet: Family Poverty, Living on the Margins, and Financial Struggle
Measuring Poverty
Why Are Some Families Poorer than Others? Blaming the Victim and Social Reproduction of Poverty Arguments
Trends in Poverty and Social Groups Vulnerable to Poverty
Poverty, Negative Outcomes, and the Life Course

Chapter 15: Families in Crisis: Family Violence, Abuse, and Stress
What Is Family Violence and Neglect? Definitions, Forms, and Prevalence
Consequences of Abuse: The Ripple Effect
What Has Love Got to Do with It? Why Do People Abuse and Neglect Their Family Members?
Prevention and Intervention

Chapter 16: Families and the State: Family Policy in an Era of Globalization and Economic Uncertainty
What Is Social and Family Policy?
Selected Policy Issues Facing Canadian Families over the Life Course


Barbara A. Mitchell

Barbara A. Mitchell is Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University, jointly appointed in the Department of Gerontology.

Family Matters, Second Edition, Family Matters, Third Edition


Family Matters is clear, critical, often provocative, and very relevant to the everyday lives of Canadian students from diverse backgrounds. One of its major strengths lies in its ‘critical sociology’ approach, and the content offers an appropriate balance of historical and contemporary research examples.”

—Dr. Sarah Knudson, Sociology, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Family Matters is a timely, relevant, and comprehensive book which offers a significant exploration of core themes related to the sociology of the family. Key theoretical approaches, relevant research, recent statistical information, and clear examples are presented and discussed in a thorough and thoughtful manner. A focus on family trends, diversity, challenges, and inequality in a Canadian context is one of the key strengths of the book. This is an essential book for any course exploring contemporary issues facing today’s Canadian families.”

—Dr. Caroline McDonald-Harker, Sociologist and Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Mount Royal University

Instructor Resources

When you adopt Family Matters, you will have access to a wealth of instructor’s resources including:

  • A test bank with multiple choice, true and false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter

  • A detailed Instructor’s Manual with suggested activities, assignments, films, as well as an innovative list of sources for building case studies for each and every chapter

  • High resolution images from the text available for use in the classroom

  • A sample syllabus template

  • Power Point slides for each chapter, filled with pertinent content and relevant images

See sample

Student Resources

General Student Resource - Download

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