Sociology 389

SOCY 389

Catalog Entry

Sociology 389. Sociology of the Family
Three hours lecture.

Prerequisite: SOCY 110 or SOCY/ANTH 121

Examines family as a social institution. Includes sociological overview of modern family in its diverse forms and its relationship to economy, government, and stratification systems of gender, race, and class.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

I. How to study families into the 21st century.

A. The sociological imagination: bridging the gap between the individual and society
B. Families as a political issue
C. Challenging the myth of the monolithic family

1. The family as defined by government
2. Appreciating diverse family forms

D. The question of research methodology
E. The question of theory

II. Social history of U.S. families with a focus on Euro- Americans

A. Stages in the history of Euro-American families

1. The modern family, stage 1: democratic family
2. The modern family, stage 2: companionate family

B. Evolution of patriarchy
C. Women’s movement
D. Individual lives and historical changes in the family

III. Social history of African-American families

A. Four periods in African-American family social history

1. Slavery
2. Sharecropping
3. Industrialization

B. African-American families and the struggle

IV. Families and the economic system

A. Critical link between families and economy

1. Falling wages
2. Economic decline and poverty
3. Housing
4. Responding to economic crisis

V. Families and the organization of race, class, and gender

A. Systems of stratification
B. Social class, race, gender and family life
C. Renewed interest in poor families

1. Theoretical models: culture of poverty
2. Social structural models

VI. Family issues and crises

A. Work and housework

1. Influence of work on families
2. Influence of families on work

a. Parental leave
b. Family leave

B. Housework: the invisible occupation

1. Unequal work and politics of gender
2. Solving the problem of housework through policy change

C. Love and sexuality in family life

1. What is love?
2. Human sexuality
3. Some theoretical debates on sexuality

D. Divorce and remarriage

1. How to measure divorce
2. Historical changes in divorce
3. Divorce reform in a gender-stratified society

E. Battering and marital rape

1. Prevalence of violence in families
2. Theories about violence in families

F. Parents and children

1. Parents and parenting
2. Modern American children
3. Theoretical problems in the study of children
4. Resistance against child abuse and neglect

VI. Families, family policy and the state

A. The welfare states and family policy
B. Why is there no specific family policy in the U.S.
C. Resistance to the welfare system

VII. Future projections for families in the 21st century


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course will include a variety of instructional strategies:

1) lecture: the majority of course material will be presented in lecture-discussion format
2) Group learning: students will be assigned to groups to study an issue related to the family. As a group, they will be responsible for developing audio-visual materials, demonstrations, role-plays for an oral report to the entire class
3) guest lectures: guests will be invited to present information and answer questions on subjects such as African-American families, family violence, child abuse, and lesbian and gay family life


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Having successfully completed this course, the student will:

1) be able to discuss an overview of the family as a social institution impacted by economy, politics, and stratification as we enter the 21st century
2) have knowledge of the social history of Euro-American and African-American families in the U. S.
3) be able to relate the current nature of U.S. families to recent changes in the U.S. economy
4) understand the nature of stratification by race, class and gender to family structure in the U.S.
5) have knowledge of major family issues and crises such as work roles, divorce, violence and child-rearing
6) be able to discuss the impact of politics and the welfare state on current and future family issues
7) be better prepared to work in group in research and problem solving
8) have experience in developing audio-visual materials and completing oral presentations


Assessment Measures

The level of student knowledge of course material will be assessed in three tests at approximately equal intervals during the semester and a comprehensive final examination. In addition, group work will be assessed by two types of evaluation--a process grade based on meeting deadlines, group involvement and commitment to task. This process grade will include student group assessment of each individual member’s role in the group. The second evaluation will be a product grade--assessment of the final product as presented to the class including content, creativity in presentation, and engagement of the class in the subject. This grade will include input from the entire class.


Other Course Information



Approval and Subsequent Reviews

January, 2004 Reviewed Peggy A. Shifflett

March, 2009