SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 1: Sheff, E. (2011). Polyamorous families, same-sex marriage, and the slippery slope. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 40(5), 487-520. doi:10.1177/0891241611413578

Abstract: Opponents of same-sex marriage identify multiple-partner families as the pivotal step that, were same-sex marriage legalized, would propel society down a “slippery slope” to relational chaos. Like the families of same-sex partners, polyamorous families—or those with adults in openly conducted multiple-partner relationships—demonstrate alternate forms of kinship not necessarily dependent on conventional biolegal kin, sexual connections, or even chosen kin ties as previously understood. This article extends sociological knowledge by detailing characteristics of relatively unknown family form; comparing original data on polyamorous families with published research on same-sex families instead of heterosexual families, a contrast that decenters heterosexual families as the sole measure of legitimacy while simultaneously expanding knowledge about same-sex families and explaining how polyamorous families’ differences have implications for the same-sex marriage debate and how these shifting social norms implicate changes for the field of family studies and larger society.

Article 2: Coontz, S. (2010). Why American families need the census. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 631(1), 141-149. doi:10.1177/0002716210373877

Abstract: This article examines how family researchers use federal statistics, particularly from the U.S. Census, to understand the realities of trends concerning the family unit. The article shows that these data have helped researchers to understand the major, largely irreversible revolution that has taken place in America in the ways that people engage in family formation, make interpersonal commitments, and take on caregiving obligations. In addition, the article makes clear the importance of understanding these changes to make and evaluate policy, such as governmental efforts to promote marriage. The article also shows the usefulness of federal data in allowing researchers to track the development of a new stage of life, termed by some the “age of independence” or “emerging adulthood,” and points to the need to keep fine-tuning, rethinking, and updating the categories that are being measured.