Reconstituted Families: An Exploratory and Descriptive Study of Incomplete Institutionalization as a Perceived Problem
Thoman, Sandra K.
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The problem. The question explored in this study is whether the problems of reconstituted families are influenced by a perceived lack of institutionalized support networks available in American society. Procedure. This thesis quantitatively analyzed data formulated from questionnaires and interviews with a sample obtained using the snowball technique. Findings. Generally, findings of previous similar studies were substantiated in terms of identifying the uniqueness of the reconstituted family from the original family. The reconstituted family is an entity quite different in dynamics from the original family of first time marrieds. Persons entering reconstituted families, however, have unrealistic expectations that the norms which have been developed for original families will guide them in the development of the new family unit. Most persons identified role confusion once in their new situation. Subjects identified a need for more education about the unique aspects of reconstituted families and increased awareness of problems to be anticipated before they actually entered the situation. They believed this could be facilitated through organized religion, the media, formal education, or premarital family counseling. Many subjects also acknowledged their perceptions of creating the norms for persons in reconstituted families, rather than following developed norms. Conclusions. ln the dialectic between the individual and society, individuals are currently creating the roles and norms which society can then institutionalize. Such societal institutionalization of the reconstituted family can provide guidance and support for its future members.
iv, 80 leaves. Advisor: Karen Conner