Introduction to Marriage & Families
Social and Behavioral (S)
Sociology and Criminology & Law
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
This course is designed to introduce students to major issues related to families and relationships, with a focus on sociological perspectives and policy implications.
Families and primary relationships are a fundamental part of our life experiences. This course is designed to introduce you to the historical and contemporary contexts that have shaped the meanings and importance of families in society.
The course begins with a discussion of how we define “the family” and the diversity of meanings and family forms. We will review historical background for understanding families and relationships as well as important sociological frameworks for studying relationship and family issues. We will distinguish between the “private” and “public” aspects of families as they relate to the privacy of intimate relationships and public concerns about the roles of families in society
- Review the history of family life as a context for understanding contemporary family issues and debates.
- Examine important contemporary aspects of relationships and families including the prevalence of different family experiences, the range of social norms concerning families and relationships, and the arguments and evidence used to support different interpretations and concerns about family life.
- Define and apply major sociological approaches to issues related to families and relationships, including approaches that focus on a) forms and functions; b) conflict; c) the processes of interaction and negotiation; and d) the importance of gender.
- Examine how sociologists study families and relationships and how sociological evidence contributes to policy debates and decisions.
- Be able to evaluate and discuss some of the critical implications of family change, especially as they related to social policy and legal issues.
- Develop an awareness of the diversity among contemporary families in the United States as well as cross-cultural variations.
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