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Selecting a Life Partner from a Systems Theory Perspective - Essay Example


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Selecting a Life Partner from a Systems Theory Perspective

This paper aims to apply the systems theory perspective in selecting a life partner. It starts with an overview of the systems theory and then applies this theory to the process of picking a life partner. Systems Theory A system is a combination of elements or subsystems that are interconnected and depend on each other (Lamanna & Riedmann, 2009, p.38). Each unit, such as families and other dyadic interactions, is seen as behaving in a predictable manner, if the relationships between its elements are recognized and understood (Lamanna & Riedmann, 2009, p.38). The parts of the system stand for “an interactive and interdependent relationship” (Parrish, 2010, p.204). Systems call for a relational pattern of interactions and outcomes (Parrish, 2010, p.206). Instead of following a linear relationship of cause and effect, a transactional relationship is more evident for systems, where causes and effects affect each other in a circular manner (Parrish, 2010, p.206). One of the basic concepts of systems theory is promoted by Max Wertheimer, who said that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” (King & Wertheimer, 2005, cited in Parrish, 2010, p.207). Boundaries define the limits of systems and subsystems. Family membership and other social alliances identify their systems and boundaries (Parrish, 2010, p.207). Some boundaries are given by roles, such as between parents and children, while others focus on relationships, such as families and neighbors (Parrish, 2010, p.207). Boundaries can

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differ according to firmness and looseness, while the permeability of boundaries can affect the level and extent of interaction between members of a given system and their external environment (Parrish, 2010, p.207). Too firm boundaries can result to isolation, while too loose boundaries can produce confusing roles and chaos (Parrish, 2010, p.207). Selecting a Life Partner from a Systems Theory Perspective Selecting a life partner is a process that systems theory can help explain and guide. The couple or life partners can be seen as belonging to several subsystems. For instance, they both belong to their families, cultures, and societies. If they share no cultural differences, differences in family background can affect their relationship. This is why it is important to find a partner, whose family values are similar to one another. For example, if the man wants a woman who can accept being house-bound for the sake of raising a family, a career-oriented woman will hardly be suitable for him, unless that woman will be willing to set aside her career goals for the first five or so years of her children’s lives. On the contrary, a strongly independent woman may look for a man who is not intimidated by her competitive nature. She will search for a man who veers away from traditional thinking and who will support her career ambitions, even if it means delaying having a family, or depending on a nanny to conduct child-rearing responsibilities that women stereotypically shoulder. Culture is also a strong system that can affect the process of selecting life partners. Cultures can have strong or loose boundaries when it comes to interracial marriages, for instance (Parrish, 2010, p.207). Those with strong boundaries will reject or will not


Selecting a Life Partner from a Systems Theory Perspective Name University 8 March 2012 Introduction The relevance of systems theory to sociologists is frequently found in how it helps understand human behavior as a product of their systems, beginning with their immediate relationships, such as their families, and extending to their community, society, and nation (Parrish, 2010, p.203)…
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