COM 597 Research in Family Communication

Spring, 2012










Marriage, a history: Part IV and Conclusions

Remember to be prepared to share what you found "remarkable".


Chapter 15 (Sarah Wehrkamp)

Chapter 15 starts with Gary telling the story of change that took place in his family. Between the 1960s and the 1990s lots of radical change took place that rearranged social and political life and ultimately the way we see traditional marriage (p.250). If you had to pick one, which factor/social movement do you think had the biggest impact on traditional marriage?

How did birth control change things?
What are our ideas/norms surrounding premarital sex today? Are they different for men and women?

Playboy magazine started in 1953 as a way for men to “enjoy the pleasures that the female has to offer without becoming emotionally involved.” As we know, playboy is still around today and women have come a long way in gaining equal rights. Do you think that Playboy is a setback for women’s liberation and allows men to treat women as mere sexual objects? Or is Playboy an outlet for women to express themselves and serve as a voice for sexual freedom?

Chapter 16 (Sarah Wehrkamp)

As Coontz says, “Divorce is here to stay” (Pg 269). More than 50% of marriages end in divorce, but people are still getting married. Do engaged couples think they are going to “beat the odds?” If so, why is that? Or do they enter marriage with the idea that if it doesn’t work out, “I’ll just get divorced”

Divorce rates fell during the depression and marriage rates soared shortly after the depression and war ended. Given what we have read thus far, how do you think our nation’s recent economic situation will effect marriage and divorce in the near future?

Chapter 17

1. Coontz states, "the big problem is how hard it is to achieve equal relationships in a society whose work policies, school schedules, and social programs were constructed on the assumption that male breadwinner families would always be the norm." (p. 299 - 300). What does she mean? If you agree that this is the case, can/should we change this? How could it be changed?


1. If it is true that, "using averages to give personal advice to individuals or to construct social policy for all is not wise." (p. 310) then what's the point? What have we/could we gain from reading the statistics?

2. Do you agree that "it is especially important that men and women now begin their relationship as friends and build it on the basis of mutual respect." (p. 311)?

Our Conclusions

1. So, what do we know now that is useful to us as members of families, as members of society?


Remember evaluation papers due over Marriage, A History on February 25.