The structure, and normative culture. This theory comes

The exchange theory focuses on the person level. This theory
believes that actions from the person are based on group phenomena, social
structure, and normative culture. This theory comes from the study of economics
and the workings of the marketplace. People try to increase their rewards and
decrease their costs. For example, a mother provides the majority of child care
for the family and the father provides most of financial support. In this
scenario, both partners are gaining something of value from the other. An
exchange does not have to be perfectly balanced, but if it is too one-sided
problems can arise between the partners. Some exchanges such as child care may
be one-sided when it comes to parents. It is usually more important to have a
fair exchange, and not perfectly balanced. This theory be extreme when family
members are perfectly rational and always able to reach a compromise. This can
cause theorist to overlook nonrational factors such as emotional attachment and


            The symbolic interaction theory
sees that relationships between people as the determinant of behavior. This
theory believes that the source of behavior is within the family. In this
theory the focus is the personal interactions in terms of meanings and symbols.
For example, a man opens a door for a woman. Is the man opening the door a
symbolic statement showing that men are stronger than women or a symbolic
behavior showing politeness and respect? An individual’s reality is made up of
the interactions with people in their lives. For two people to get along their
backgrounds must be somewhat similar. An adult who grew up I a family where
problems were not discussed would have a problem being in a relationship with a
partner who family discussed their problems. In this theory the goodness of a
relationship is based upon the happiness of the partners within the family
setting. Government policies, economic fluctuations, and other environmental
factors that are brought on the family is often overlooked.

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            The family development theory
focuses on family and not people. Over time people, relationships, and family
roles will change. Changes can come from within and outside the family. A
family is changes over time from meeting a partner, getting married, having
children, having an empty nest after the children become adults, middle age,
retirement, grandparents, old age, and death. This theory tends to treat all
families the same, when every family is different. Cohabitation, divorce,
remarriage, pregnancy, adoption, gay/ lesbian families, and ethnically
different families will have different life cycles.


            Systems theory focuses on
interconnectedness. This theory believes that if part of a system changes, then
the rest of the system will react and will also change. For example, in a
family if the breadwinner loses their job the rest of the family will become
concerned and change their spending habits. The theory will highlight how
actions can bring reaction and together they bring change.   For an individual to change the family
system must change. Another example, if a child is wetting the bed on the daily
and goes to a family therapist, the therapist will work with the entire family
to help with the problem. The system theory believes that any system works
toward equilibrium. The change of the child not wetting the bed will cause the
family members to change their behavior. The system theory also focuses on the
rules governing a family and how the rules were made. Any system such as a
family has rules that they follow by or the family dynamic can be hurt. Like if
a car transmission fails, the system will not work.


            The conflict theory focuses on the
normal state of a family to be one of conflict and change and not harmony and
things as they are. For example, pro-choice social activists fight for the
rights of each woman to decide for themselves to have an abortion, while
anti-abortion activists try to enact laws that regulate abortion. The
perspective concerns women’s rights and civil rights. In families the conflict
theory occurs to fix the system.  When
the child is born questions arise like how the child will change the roles of
the new parents. The father suggests the mother to stay home, because the child
care is her responsibility. The mother objects because she enjoys working and
want to give financially to the family. There is a conflict and can be worked
out many ways. To put the family back at equilibrium the family must find a
solution fair to the mother and father. This theory also studies power
relationships, such as a partner holding the power that tends to dominate most
conflicts. If a husband is the breadwinner and earns more money than his wife,
this fact tends to dictate that he works, and she stays home to care for their
child. As women enter the workforce and become economically equal to their
husbands, the power structure within the family shifts.


            The ecological theory focuses on
adaption and considers pressures from within and without the family. The family
is the microsystem in which human development take place. However, the family
encounters pressure from outside the family. For examples, the pressure from a
job and law enforcement, who enforce rules created by society. The society can
come in the form of the government who can be supportive of the family but can
also undermine the family.