Black and Latino families are in fact highly family-oriented and want to be involved in exchange networks but, because they are economically disenfranchised, they are prevented from participation. The vitriolic debate on welfare reform currently sweeping the nation assumes that if institutional mechanisms of social support are eliminated, impoverished families will simply rely on an extensive web of kinship networks for their survival. The political discourse surrounding poverty and welfare reform has an increasingly racial undertone. Implementation of social policy that presupposes the availability of family safety nets in minority communities could have disastrous consequences for many without extended kin networks. Many scholars and political analysts assume that thriving kin and non-kin social support networks continue to characterize minority family life. Policy recommendations based on these underlying assumptions may lead to the implementation of harmful social policy. No More Kin examines extended kinship networks among African American, Chicano, Puerto-Rican, and non-Hispanic white families in contemporary America and seeks to provide an integrated theoretical framework for examining how the simultaneity of gender, race, and class oppression affects minority family organization. Breaking new ground in a variety of fields, No More Kin is sure to become a valuable resource for students and professionals in family studies, gender studies, and race/ethnic studies.
The Structural Context of Care
The structural approach to informal social support networks and extended living arrangements argues that minority families are more likely to be familistic because of their more limited economic resources and greater susceptibility to economic deprivation. This perspective stresses economic exploitation, not differences in cultural values and norms, as a major antecedent to divergent family forms. This chapter will first present the theoretical underpinnings of the structural approach to extended kinship networks followed by a critique of research to date and a description of how this study will transcend some of the limitations of previous work. Like the cultural perspective, this framework also contains ideological presuppositions. Proponents of the structural perspective base their theorizing about participation in ...