Changing Definitions of Families

Unmarried America Website

"Unmarried America is an information service for America's 87 million unmarried adults...The newspaper column, library, and radio show are all functions of Spectrum Institute, a nonprofit corporation with federal tax exempt status."


Column One is a weekly commentary by Thomas F. Coleman that deals with the legal, political, economic, and social aspects of singles' rights, family diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.


To view these archives, please click here


Library One is Unmarried America's online database which contains more than 6,500 pages of material on unmarried adults. A tax-deductible donation to Unmarried America is necessary in order to gain access  to the the online library.


To visit the Library One main page, please click here  

The Alternatives to Marriage Project (AtMP)

The Alternatives to Marriage Project (AtMP) provides overviews and other resources on a variety of issues related to family diversity including: Cohabitation, Living Single, Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Marriagefree, Polyamory, Domestic Partner Benefits, Legal Issues, Common Law Marriage, Commitment Ceremonies, and Unmarried Parenting.

Visit the publications page of their website for articles, reports, fact sheets and more,

For more information on The Alternatives to Marriage Project, click here:

Work, Human Capital, and Family Composition: An Analysis of Public Policies and Incentive Structures in Oklahoma

Activity Description: 

A PowerPoint presentation by Zohre Salehezadeh and Kenneth Kickham of the Office of Planning, Policy and Research, Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Activity Source: 

Salehezadeh, Z. & Kickham, K. (2004). Work, human capital, and family composition: An analysis of public policies and incentive structures in Oklahoma. Retrieved February 19, 2008, from the Community Action Project of Tulsa County web site:

Council on Contemporary Families -- Educational Materials

Activity Description: 

The Council on Contemporary Families provides several educational materials that may be of use for teaching on this topic. Some of these resources include:

  • "Teaching Family History: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to WWW Resources"
  • "Myths and Misconceptions about America's Changing Families". 

To view these materials:

Activity Source: 

"The Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the national conversation about what contemporary families need and how these needs can best be met.”

For more about the Council:

Gray, Jane

Jane Gray is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology, and a Research Associate of the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analyis at NUI Maynooth, where she is the programme leader for the Irish Qualitative Data Archive. Her research and teaching interests centre on questions relating to families, households and social change. She recently completed research for the Combat Poverty Agency on ‘Poverty and the Life Cycle in 20th Century Ireland,’ drawing on life story interviews collected as part of the ‘Life Histories and Social Change Project’ that she co-directed with Professor Sean O’Riain.  She is co-author, with Professor Mary P. Corcoran and Professor Michel Peillon, of the book Suburban Affiliations, published by Syracuse University Press  in 2010.

Expertise: Changing Definitions of Families, Community, Work and Family.

+353 1 708 3596

National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Department of Sociology
NUI Maynooth
County Kildare


Crowley, Jocelyn Elise

Jocelyn Elise Crowley is a Professor of Public Policy, a member of the Graduate Faculty in the Department of Political Science, and an Affiliated Faculty Member of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies. Most recently, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has funded numerous of her research projects on mothers’ organizations in the United States, parenting challenges and public policy, and workplace flexibility. She has written extensively on the topic of family policy, including her books The Politics of Child Support in America (2003; Cambridge University Press) and Defiant Dads: Fathers’ Rights Activists in America (2008; Cornell University Press). In addition to contributing to an edited volume on international fathers’ rights movements, she has published numerous articles in the American Journal of Political Science, Social Science Quarterly, Health Education and Behavior, Legislative Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Marriage and Family Review, Justice System Journal, Perspectives on Politics, Social Service Review, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Sociological Inquiry, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Social Forces, Sociological Spectrum, and the Eastern Economic Journal. During the 2005-2006 academic year, she was chosen to be a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City. She spent the 2006-2007 academic year at the Department of Politics, New York University and the Social Indicators Survey Center, Columbia University School of Social Work.

Expertise: Dual Earner Families, Single Parents, Flexible Work Schedules, Changing Definitions of Families, Work-Family Conflict

(732) 932-2499 x

Rutgers University - The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
33 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick NJ 08901
United States

McKenna, Christine

Christine McKenna earned her Ph.D. in Social Science from Syracuse University and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Saint Louis University. She is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Emmanuel College in Boston, where she teaches an undergraduate course on “Family and Gender Roles.” Her research has focused on gender and social policy in the United States. Her dissertation traced the political development of a regressive benefits structure for child care subsidies in the U.S., with some low-income families benefitting from generous vouchers and others stuck on waiting lists while middle- and upper-income families claim child care deductions on their taxes. Prior to entering academia, Christine worked for the United Way promoting the importance of after-school care for working families and for an anti-poverty advocacy organization in New York State. She helped to coordinate the steering committee responsible for generating the Self-Sufficiency Standard for New York, a document that analyzes the cost of living in each of the state’s counties for several household types. The report has been used in advocating for increased support services to enable low-income families to make ends meet and in developing training programs to help mothers enter fields that provide career ladders for advancement and greater earning potential. Christine was selected as a Work-Family Early Career Scholar by the Sloan Foundation for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Expertise: Afterschool Care, Child Care, Dependent Care Tax Assistance, Changing Definitions of Families, Community, Work and Family


Emmanuel College
400 The Fenway
Boston MA 02115
United States

Russo, Francine

Francine Russo is the author of the new book They're Your Parents, Too! How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents' Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy (Bantam 2010). She is a widely recognized journalist known for her alertness to developing trends, especially in her own boomer generation. Keenly attuned to psychological themes, she has honed the intimate interview, drawing her subjects to discover and articulate their own deepest feelings. For nearly a decade Russo covered the boomer  and aging beat for Time magazine and in 2004 established a popular niche, becoming Time magazine's boomer expert in her regularly featured "Ask Francine" column. Her pieces for The Atlantic sparked media debate and were widely anthologized. She has developed an enthusiastic following with her  articles in media like The New York Times Magazine, Redbook, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, Self, Glamour, and The Village Voice, where she was a theater critic for over a decade. She blogs for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.  In 2009 she became a New York Times Fellow at the International Longevity Center.  She has a Ph.D. in English and lives in Manhattan.

Russo has become in demand as a keynote speaker on psychological and practical issues affecting caregivers and the extended aging family: eldercare, family and adult sibling dynamics, dementia, end-of-life decision-making, elder-law, grieving and resilience,  and other topics. She has spoken at Jewish Home Lifecare (Manhattan), New York County Lawyers Association, the American Society on Aging (Chicago: Aging in America conference), and DARTS resources for seniors (St. Paul, MN); she will soon deliver keynotes for Massachusetts General Hospital, North Shore-LIJ Health System, and Jewish Home Lifecare (Mamaroneck, NY). See Russo's Web site: www.YourParentsToo for more about her.

Expertise:Baby boomers, eldercare, marital relationships, parent/child relationships, family and sibling dynamics in late-life families around caregiving, transfers of power, end-of-life decision-making, mourning and inheritance, and how these issues stress employees


Languilaire, Jean-Charles

Jean-Charles Languilaire graduated from the Business School of Dijon Bourgogne. Dijon, France (Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Dijon Bourgogne) in 2002. The same year he obtained his Degree of Master of Science in Business and Economics with a major in Business Administration at Karlstad University (Area of Service Management), Sweden. Jean-Charles has been partly acting for 2 years the Human Resource Manager with a focus on Human Resources and Development of the Jönköping International Business School. Jean-Charles defended his doctoral thesis the 27th of November 2009. He is currently lecturer at Jönköping International Business School (University of Jönköping) but also Lecturer at School of Business and Engineering (Halmstad University). He also punctually teaches in other Swedish Universities and French Business Schools.

Research interest:  Jean-Charles is Lecturer and Researcher in Business Administration at Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) as well as University of Halmstad in Sweden. Jean-Charles’ research interests lie primarily within Human Resources Development and Leadership with a focus on individuals and their well-being in work and non-work. In the context of work-life issues Jean-Charles focuses on the emerging boundary perspective.

Jean-Charles ‘s doctoral thesis focused on individuals’ work/non-work experiences. His thesis is entitled: Experiencing work/non-work - Theorising individuals’ process of integrating and segmenting work, family, social and private? The thesis contributes to the work-life field, especially the boundary perspective on work and non-work by presenting a model of individuals’ work/non-work experiences. The model pursued is derived from 33 theoretical propositions. The thesis concludes that segmenting and integrating are essential for the harmony of their life domains namely their work, their family, their social and their private. According to the jury at the doctoral defense: “The dissertation represents a valuable contribution to the interdisciplinary filed of work/non-work research. The detailed narratives give new and relevant understandings of the work and non-work experiences of individuals. The dissertation opens up rich avenues for future research in management and related research areas”

New research projects derived from the thesis are currently being developed.

Extended abstract of his doctoral thesis:  The relationships between work and personal life have been on the public, business, and research agenda for about 35 years. Perspectives on these relationships have shifted from a work-family to work-life or work-personal life focus, from a conflict to a balance or enrichment view and, finally, from a segmentation to an integration perspective. This evolution, however, leads to a theoretical and practical impasse where neither integration nor segmentation can be seen as the absolute individual, organisational and societal value. This thesis takes the discussion one step further and focuses on individuals’ work/non-work experiences, calling for a humanistic case. The humanistic case urges placing individuals’ work/non-work experiences at the centre of human resources and at the centre of the work-life field.

The aim of the thesis is to theorise individuals’ work/non-work experiences in their individual, organisational and societal contexts. To achieve the purpose, the thesis presents individuals’ work/non-work self-narratives. These self-narratives of six French middle-managers, three men and three women, underline how individuals experience their diverse life domains, namely the work, the family, the social and the private and their management. The self-narratives have been generated through in-depth qualitative interviews and diaries. The thesis explores and provides an understanding of individuals’ work/non-work experiences from a boundary perspective.

Focusing on the processes behind individuals’ work/non-work experiences, the thesis reveals that work/non-work preferences for integration and/or segmentation are not sufficient to understand individuals’ experiences. It is essential to consider the preferences in relation to their level of explicitness and the development of work/non-work self-identity. Moreover, it is important to understand the roles of positive and negative work/non-work emotions emerging in the work/non-work process as a respective signal of individuals’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction in how their life domains are developed and managed.

The thesis contributes to the work-life field, especially the boundary perspective on work and non-work by presenting a model of individuals’ work/non-work experiences. The model pursued is derived from 33 theoretical propositions. Among these, few conclusions are:

  • A two-dimensional approach for life domain boundaries as a systematic combination of seven boundary types (spatial, temporal, human, cognitive, behavioural, emotional and psychosomatic) and their mental and concrete natures.

  • A three-dimensional model for work/non-work preferences, revealing five major archetypes of work/non-work preferences between segmentation and integration,

  • The centrality of the emotional side of the work/non-work process where work/non-work emotions serve as a signal function for the individual’s satisfaction with their work/non-work experiences

  • The development of a work/non-work self identity is central to the overall work/non-work experience and serve as a basis for work/non-work experiences beyond the sole work/non-work preferences for integration and/or segmentation

  • The indication that individuals value segmentation on a daily basis and integration on a long-term so that segmenting and integrating are essential for the harmony of their life domains namely their work, their family, their social and their private.

Teaching areas: Jean-Charles teaches within the fields of Leadership, Service Management, Organisation Theory, International Management and Human Resource Management. He teaches in English and Swedish.

Expertise: Changing definitions of families; community, work, and family; work/life integration; work/non-work experiences; work/non-work self-identity; work/non-work emotions

+46 36 10 18 43
+46 36 16 10 69

Jonkoping International Business School
P.O. Box 1026

Byrd, Stephanie E.

Stephanie E. Byrd is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology at Christopher Newport University in Virginia where she teaches classes on the individual and society, family in transition, socialization, and theory.  She completed her dissertation, “The Changing Shape of Commitment: Contradictions and Choices among a New Generation of Young Adults” in 2005 at New York University with support from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Henry A. Murray Grant) and a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Grant.  Her work has also been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation through a postdoctoral fellowship (2005-2007) at the MARIAL center at Emory University and through membership in the Sloan Network Early Career Scholars Program (2009).  She is a qualitative researcher whose current research examines how and why contemporary young adults reconcile ideals of autonomy and commitment in decision-making about work and family.  Presently, her analyses focus on how notions of choice, self-development, and self-determination intertwine with ideals of intimacy, companionship, and family welfare to produce variation in work-family-life integration and relationship processes. Some of her work on commitment (“The Social Construction of Marital Commitment”) was recently (2009) published in Journal of Marriage and Family.

Expertise: Work-Family Balance, Work/life Integration, Changing Definitions of Families, Generation X / Generation Y


Christopher Newport University
1 University Place
Newport News VA 23606
United States

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