Dynamic dimensions of family structure in low-income African American families: Emergent themes in qualitative research
A common conceptualization of family structure used in studies of low- income African Americans is a dichotomized construct that contrasts one- parent, female-headed households with two-parent family units. The consistent use of this conceptualization has impeded the exploration of the impact that dynamic dimensions of family structure have on family functioning. This paper outline several fundamental dimensions of family structure that should be considered in studies of economically disadvantaged African American families. Using data from two qualitative community-based studies of African American families, we delineate four key dimensions of family structure - extended family networks; the socioeconomic structure of extended family networks; the pace of change in family structure; and the age structure of family members.