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Course: MCAT > Unit 4

Lesson 1: Foundations of behavior passages

Marriage and family

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There are many forms of mate selection, ways of viewing parental responsibility, and ways of tracing descent around the world. Although varying patterns exist for different groups, most societies perceive their own forms of marriage and family and natural occurrences. In an attempt to explain variations in mate selection processes, some social theories propose that a group’s marriage practices match its social values. For example, individual mate selection occurs in a society with strong cultural values of individuality and independence, while arranged marriages more likely exists in societies where parental or traditional authority is more powerful. Another explanation is that a group’s marriage practices match its patterns of social stratification. For example, arranged marriages could affirm caste lines in some societies, while in others, family lines may be less important so marriage more easily transcends social classes.
However, regardless of why marriage occurs, numerous studies have shown that marriage brings health benefits. In particular, the married live longer than the unmarried. Figure 1 below shows the recent results based on the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study, follow-up research on a cohort of 4,802 men and women. The follow-up years in this figure began at age 18.
**Figure 1: Percent chances of survival over years followed-up
So why might marriage have health benefits? Some explanations offered include: spouses may encourage each other to eat healthier, exercise regularly, and in addition, spouses can serve as each other’s social support in times of stress.
Source: Henslin, J. M. (2015). Essentials of sociology: A down-to-earth approach. Pearson.
Which of the following is a functionalist perspective on marriage and family?
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