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African American Families

African American Families

April 2007 | 408 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"Bravo to the authors! They have done an excellent job addressing the issues that are critical to community members, policy makers and interventionists concerned with Black families in the context of our nation."
—Michael C. Lambert, University of Missouri, Colombia

"African American Families is a timely work. The strength of this text lies in the depth of coverage, clarity, and the ability to combine secondary sources, statistics and qualitative data to reveal the plight of African Americans in society."
—Edward Opoku-Dapaah, Winston-Salem State University

"African American Families is both engaging and challenging and is perhaps one of the most important works I have read in many years. This book will most certainly move the discourse of the socio-economic conditions of black families forward, beyond the boundaries already set by other books in the market. African American Families is an excellent book whose time has come, and one that I would most definitely adopt."
—Lateef O. Badru, University of Louisville

African American Families provides a systematic sociological study of contemporary life for families of African descent living in the United States. Analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data, authors Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith identify the structural barriers that African Americans face in their attempts to raise their children and create loving, healthy, and raise the children of the next generation.

Key Features:

  • Uses the lens provided by the race, class, and gender paradigm: Examples illustrate the ways in which multiple systems of oppression interact with patterns of self-defeating behavior to create barriers that deny many African Americans access to the American dream.
  • Addresses issues not fully or adequately addressed in previous books on Black families: These issues include personal responsibility and disproportionately high rates of incarceration, family violence, and chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS.
  • Brings statistical data to life: The authors weave personal stories based on interviews they've conducted into the usual data from scholarly(?) literature and from U.S. Census Bureau reports.
  • Provides several illustrations from Hurricane Katrina: A contemporary analysis of a recent disaster demonstrates many of the issues presented in the book such as housing segregation and predatory lending practices.
  • Offers extensive data tables in the appendices: Assembled in easy-to-read tables, students are given access to the latest national agencies data from agencies including the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, and Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Intended Audience:

This is an ideal textbook for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses such as African American Families, Sociology of the Family, Contemporary Families, and Race and Ethnicity in the departments of Human Development and Family Studies, Sociology, African American Studies, and Black Studies.

1. African American Families: A Brief Introduction


What We Hope to Accomplish

The Question of Social Class

Data Sources

Organization of the Book


2. African American Civil Society: Issues, Approaches, Demography, and Theory



Race as a Social Construct

African American Families

Structural Versus Individual Explanations

African American Families: A Profile

Theoretical Approaches to Studying African American Families

Data and Methods


3. Family Formation, Marriage Rates, and Cohabitation


Factors That Affect Family Form

Functions and Purposes of Marriage

Marriage Patterns

The Marriage Gap

In Their Own Words

Race, Class, and Gender Analysis

Summary: Outcomes of the Low Marriage Rate



4. Childbearing and Childrearing Patterns


Childbearing Patterns

Nonmarital Births

Race, Class, and Gender Paradigm




5. Intimate Partner Violence



The Problem

The Family Violence Approach

The Feminist Paradigm

Race, Class, and Gender Approach to Studying IPV

The Dirty Little Secret: IPV in the African American Community

African American Women as Victims/Survivors of IPV: Statistics/Rates

Men and Masculinity

Race, Class, and Gender Paradigm



6. HIV and Other Social and Health Issues


The State of Health and Well-Being in African American Civil Society

Racial Disparities in Chronic Diseases

Racial Disparities in HIV/AIDS

Leading Causes of Death

Infant Mortality

Outcomes of Poor Health: Premature Death

Causes of Poor Health and Death

Environmental Injustice

The Politics of Health Care

The Genetics (and Politics) of Race/Ethnicity and Health

Race, Class and Gender Paradigm



7. Access to Opportunity: Educational Attainment and Occupational Segregation


A Brief History of Race and Education

Educational Attainment

Access to Education: Legacy

The Economy

Race, Class, and Gender: African American Women's History of Work

Occupations and Work

Occupational Segregation: The Impact of Race and Gender

Causes of Occupational Segregation

Outcomes of Occupational Segregation

Financial Outcomes: Lower Earnings

Race, Class, and Gender Paradigm



8. Welfare and Wealth


Income Versus Wealth

Income and Income Disparities

Wealth and Wealth Disparities

Wealth Disparities and Access to the American Dream?


A Clear Illustration: Hurricane Katrina



Welfare Reform

Stereotypes About Welfare and Poverty

Welfare Versus Work

Welfare Reform and Family Values

Welfare Reform and Incarceration, or African American Mothers Are Crackheads

Race, Class, and Gender Analysis



9. African American Males and the Incarceration Problem: Not Just Confined to Prison



Prisons as Total Institutions

The Growth of Prisons: Institutions and Population

The Purpose of Prison: Rehabilitation or a Tool of Capitalism?

The Demographics of the Prison Population: Race and Gender

Explaining Racial Disparities in Incarceration

The Effects of Incarceration on the Lives of Young African American Men

Felony Disenfranchisement

Other Bans-Social Services

Race, Class, and Gender Paradigm



10. Conclusion: Solutions to a Longstanding Problem: Race, Class, and Patriarchy in the 21st Century
Summary and Review of the Primary Themes

Degrees of Separation

A Snapshot of the African American Family

The Struggles

The Causes


Family Form

The Relationship Between Structural Forces and Individual Choices

What Is To Be Done?

Structural Forces: Race, Class, and Gender

Final Thoughts


About the Authors

I am excited about the content provided in this book. It will be used in my COUN 632 Family and Couples Counseling courses as a supplemental, recommended textbook purchase.

Dr Tracey M Duncan
Education , New Jersey City University
October 17, 2015

Needed an updated sociology of the african american textbook; this book received 4 out of 4 recommendations

Ms Joyce Shaw
Social Sciences Dept, Elizabeth City State University
August 22, 2011

For instructors

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