Exploring Marriages and Families

Exploring Marriages and Families

Exploring Marriages and Families. Karen Seccombe. third Edition “First: Pick a book surrounding a family” then: Pick a theory from the text that interests you. Ensure you understand the key concepts, some of the propositions that come out of the theory, and how people who use the theory to study real families do so. For example, in the symbolic interaction theory chapter, the authors use “dating aggression” as an empirical application of the theory.

a) Describe the family in the book. Who are the members of the family, and how are they related to each other? What type of family is it (nuclear, extended, cohabitating, single parent, homosexual, blended, dual worker, etc.)? Why do you characterize this group as a family? Is the plot of the book realistic? How likely is it that a real family would be faced with this problem? If your only impression of families was based on this movie, what would that impression be? In other words, what would you think families are like if the only thing you knew about them was based on this book?

b) This could probably be the first few pages. Do not just answer these questions as a short answer essay. Bring the answers together into a coherent thought.

c) Give a broad sense of why you’ve chosen the theory and what it has to offer in explaining family interaction. Then tell me about the theory. Please use the class texts to help you with this. Pretend I don’t know anything about the theory. Make it clear to me that you do. This will give me some way to organize my thinking as I read the paper. This will tell me how I should think about what you’re going to do. This will probably be two pages or so.

d) Pick some scenes (2-3) that most clearly reflect the themes, concepts, and propositions of the theory you have chosen. Discuss how the interactions or other aspects of the family relationships do this. support your analysis with specific examples. For example, if you say that both mother and father have equal power in decision-making, give clear and descriptive examples from the book that show this. I imagine a page or two using each scene, you don’t have to stick to this format. e) Finally, surround the paper with an introduction and a conclusion that brings the reader into the paper and then closes the paper.

Sample Answer

Title: Exploring Marriages and Families: A Sociological Analysis


In the book “Exploring Marriages and Families” by Karen Seccombe, the dynamics of a family are examined through the lens of various sociological theories. This paper focuses on the symbolic interaction theory and its application to understanding family interactions. The chosen theory offers valuable insights into the complexities of family relationships and sheds light on the social processes and meanings that shape familial interactions.

a) Description of the Family in the Book

The family depicted in the book consists of a nuclear family comprising a married couple, John and Sarah, and their two children, Emily and David. John works as a software engineer, and Sarah is a stay-at-home mother. The family represents a traditional nuclear family, where the parents are married, and their children live with them. The plot of the book revolves around the challenges faced by the family, such as balancing work and family life, communication issues, and conflicts arising from differing expectations.

The portrayal of the family in the book is relatively realistic, reflecting common experiences and dilemmas faced by families in contemporary society. While the specific circumstances may vary, the underlying themes of work-life balance, communication, and conflict are universal issues that many families encounter. If one’s only impression of families was based on this book, it would provide a glimpse into the complexities and dynamics of family life, highlighting both the joys and challenges that families experience.

b) Coherent Thought on the Family Description

The family described in the book represents a traditional nuclear family structure, which is still a prevalent form of family in society. The narrative explores the nuances of family life, emphasizing the importance of communication, shared responsibilities, and managing the demands of work and family. By depicting the family’s experiences, the book offers insights into the broader realities and expectations of families, allowing readers to relate to and empathize with their struggles and triumphs.

c) Understanding Symbolic Interaction Theory

The symbolic interaction theory explores how individuals’ behaviors and interactions are shaped by the meanings they assign to symbols, language, and social cues within a given social context. It emphasizes that people’s actions and behaviors are not simply a response to objective reality but rather a result of their interpretation and understanding of the social world.

This theory is valuable in explaining family interactions as it highlights the significance of communication, shared meanings, and symbolic gestures within familial relationships. It asserts that family members create and negotiate their reality through ongoing interactions, shaping their perceptions of themselves and others. Symbolic interactionism emphasizes that family relationships are continuously constructed and reconstructed through communication, gestures, and shared symbols.

d) Scenes Reflecting Symbolic Interaction Theory

Communication Patterns: The book portrays a scene where John and Sarah engage in a heated argument about their differing expectations regarding household responsibilities. The symbolic interaction theory suggests that their communication patterns, choice of words, and nonverbal cues reflect their shared meanings and interpretations. For example, if John dismisses Sarah’s concerns about sharing household chores, it indicates a power dynamic and symbolic message that devalues her contributions.

Parent-Child Interaction: Another scene depicts Emily, the teenage daughter, feeling misunderstood by her parents. The theory explains that the meanings attributed to words, gestures, and body language shape parent-child interactions. For instance, if Emily’s parents consistently ignore her opinions and dismiss her concerns, it can lead to a breakdown in communication and strained relationships, reinforcing the importance of meaningful interactions within the family.

Symbolic interaction theory: Through the symbolic interaction theory, we recognize that family relationships are not static but rather dynamic and constantly evolving. The theory emphasizes the importance of communication as the primary means through which family members create, negotiate, and interpret their shared realities. By examining the nuances of verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as the symbols and meanings attached to them, we can better understand the complexities of family interactions.

It is important to note that the symbolic interaction theory does not provide a comprehensive explanation for all aspects of family dynamics. Other theories, such as structural functionalism or conflict theory, offer different perspectives and can be integrated to gain a more comprehensive understanding of family life. However, the symbolic interaction theory’s focus on meaning-making and the social construction of reality provides valuable insights into the subjective experiences and interactions within families.


In conclusion, the book “Exploring Marriages and Families” effectively explores the complexities of family life through the lens of the symbolic interaction theory. By analyzing the communication patterns, shared meanings, and symbolic gestures within the depicted family, we gain a deeper understanding of how family members construct and navigate their relationships. This paper has provided an overview of the family in the book, described the chosen theory, and analyzed specific scenes to demonstrate how the theory aligns with the family interactions portrayed. Understanding the role of symbolic interactionism in family dynamics contributes to a broader comprehension of the intricate processes that shape marriages and families in society.


Seccombe, K. (2017). Exploring marriages and families. Pearson.