Extending the Range of Questioning in Family Studies Through Ideas From the Exact Sciences


Department of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University, 37140 Beech Hills Drive, Willoughby Hills, OH 44094 (spreyj@aol.com).


This article argues that the scope and depth of understanding in the field of family studies would be advanced if some theoretical questioning were at a higher level of abstraction. A way to achieve this is to shift some of the focus of questioning from individuals to social relationships. The potential benefits of 3 concepts drawn from the exact sciences—attractors, nonlinearity, and chaos—are discussed in turn to demonstrate that their metaphorical use can lead to new questions about process that may advance theoretical understanding of the institutions of the family and marriage.