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Provide three examples of how society shapes family life. Provide three examples of how society shapes family life.

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Society determines what constitutes a family. In some cultures, a family includes a large extended family. On others, it is just the nuclear family. Does a family include same-sex couples? Friends? Adoption? People with similar views? Pets? Those are at least partly cultural determinations. I would argue that the definition of family is changing or has changed throughout the years in the US.

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Society shapes family life in many different ways. It determines the social norms that we are all expected to follow. This defines how we interact with family, friends, co-workers, etc. Work is another issue here. The roles of women have changed over the years. Decades ago women generally stayed in the home. Today, most women work. This has completely changed family dynamics.

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I didn’t really see this on other posts, but society affects family in that the cost of living keeps going up, and parents (and even children sometimes) have to work longer and longer hours just to maintain the status...

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mkcapen1 | Student

The first thing that society shapes in regard to family life is the definition of what constitutes a family.  For example; twenty years ago a homosexual man and his partner would not have been considered a family in America.  As American society changed so did the realization of what constitutes a family changed. 

Dominant religious beliefs in a society also shape how a family lives and how family members respond to one another.  For example: Life among devout Christians and life among devout Muslims is very different.  The holidays that are celebrated and the manner in which the family worships each have their own patterns.  The days of worship are different as well as the belief's of the afterlife and consequences for engaging in certain patterns of behavior.

The hierarchy of a family is also affected by society.  Many years ago women were only allowed to work in the home.  They could not make financial decisions and all property rights were handed down to men.  In some societies this has not changed, but in American and Western society Women experience the same rights as men.

Family values are shaped by society as a whole.  If a person lives in a society where spending time with family members outweighs the need for a median income, the family will forgo even some of the necessities to ensure that both parents spend more time with the children.  In America mothers used to be expected to be home raising their children, but now in many households men stay home and women work.  Children may attend day care while both parents work.

Even weight patterns and body image is shaped by societal expectations.  As a result families find themselves facing rigorous exercise routines, eating too much, and even dysfunctional eating patterns as well as healthy patterns.

Media representation often reflects the social patterns of the family unit.  In media today we are faced with a violent and dangerous society.  The influence of the increase in murders and even dangers to children in schools has resulted in most family unites providing cell phones for their children.

The mobility of a society is also a significant social factor that influences family.    Years ago transportation was limited and took a long time.  Families tended to live closer together and assist one another.  As transportation became cheaper and readily available, business expanded in different directions.  As a direct result extended family units are often spread throughout the world.  Transportation has also made it easier for family to visit one another.

There are so many areas in which family is affected by society.