Sociology of Families
Instructor: Sarah Akers
Course times: online course (Spring 2013)
Course catalog description: Historical development and ethnic diversity of family forms, cultural rituals associated with constituting families and intimate partnerships, construction of motherhood and fatherhood, care-giving relationships, and problems faced by families including division of domestic labor, divorce, domestic violence, and economic stress.
Prerequisites: Soc 204 and 205 recommended
Syllabus: Spring 2013 (online)
- Andrew Cherlin. 2013. Public and Private Families: An Introduction (7th Edition). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies.
- Andrew Cherlin. 2013. Public and Private Families: A Reader (7th Edition). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies.
General topics covered: the social organization of the family; social theories of the family; the history of the family; social class and family inequality; race and ethnicity and gender in relation to families; sexuality; cohabitation and marriage; work and family; children; domestic violence; divorce and stepfamilies; and social policy
Each student should leave the course with a thorough understanding of and familiarity with:
- the family in its historical and social context
- the evolution of family structure and how it is influenced by social factors
- the socialization process that takes place within the family and how these early processes influence the future outcomes of the children
While some believe that the traditional family is in decline in the U.S., others would say that there has never been one dominant type of family structure. This course will look at the family in its historical and social context, as it was shaped by social forces such as welfare policy and the women’s rights movement.
Social institutions are created and evolve to solve social problems. The family is no exception, it has served many purposes over time. It continues to be one of the primary settings for socialization. Children are provided with experiences, information and resources that shape their understanding the world and their place in it. The family that one is born into determines several characteristics of the person, such as socioeconomic status, race and gender, that will shape their future outcomes.
The course examines how forms of segregation including by race and class, shape couple formation and perpetuate existing patterns in what families look like. Families take on a variety of configurations including partners who are married or cohabiting, divorced or separated families, stepfamilies, intergenerational households, same-sex couples, biological or adopted children, etc. We will study these trends, what causes them and what the outcomes are of the various family types.
The family both shapes and is shaped by social factors. It is an essential component of the larger social structure. After taking this course, students will come to understand how much of the social environment is related to or dependent on the family.