Family power and decision-making : beyond the husband-wife dyad

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James Scott Brown (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Rebecca M. Smith

Abstract: The major conceptual focus of this research was to expand systematically the investigation of family power beyond the marital dyad. The purposes of the study were (a) to test two theories of coalition formation in families, and (b) to test the reliability and validity of an instrument designed for measuring family coalitions. Using data from 24 two-parent, two-children, nonclinical families, this research examined the types of coalitions and the conditions under which they develop in a conflictual family decision-making situation. The data were collected via questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and videotaped family interactions. Of the six hypotheses developed from the two coalition formation theories, only one was supported. In this sample, families with strong parental coalitions tended to have stronger sibling coalitions than parent-child coalitions. The data failed to show any particular coalition pattern between the weaker parent and the children. No empirical evidence was found to support the predominance of parent-child over child-child coalitions under the conditions of nearly equal status parents without a stong parental coalition. Neither age differences nor sex differences in the sibling pair proved to be related to the strength of the sibling coalition. The findings indicated that coalition patterns appear to maintain power differences between parents and children and mothers received more support than any other family member.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1988
Domestic relations
Decision making

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