The Population, Society and Inequality Series presents

"Making Sense of Family Boundary Ambiguity in U.S. Cohabiting Stepfamilies"
with Megan Sweeney, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, UCLA

March 6, 2012
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Social Science Plaza B, Room 4250

Recent research points to strikingly high levels of family boundary ambiguity within cohabiting stepfamilies, as reflected in discrepant family-structure reports gathered from adolescents and their mothers. When mothers report living with a cohabiting partner, their adolescent children disagree fully two-thirds of the time. This important finding points to considerable cultural ambiguity characterizing stepfamilies in the United States and poses meaningful measurement challenges for family scholars. Yet Sweeney's analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health suggests that the extent of mother-child disagreement regarding cohabiting stepfamilies may be substantially less than previously thought, due to the wide variety of terms adolescents use to describe their mother’s cohabiting partner. She also considers whether changing assumptions regarding family structure measurement affects our understanding of the association between cohabitation and children’s well-being.

This lecture is sponsored by the Gender, Work, and Family Research Group.

For further information, please contact Sandy Cushman, or 949-824-3344.


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