Sociology 447-647
Marriage and the Family

Instructor: Dmitri Shalin

Office: CBC-B-237, 895-0259,
Office hours: Tuesday 3:00-4:00, 6:30-7:00 p.m., or by appointment


COURSE OBJECTIVES:  The course is a survey of major problems and theories related to modern marriage and the family.  The discussion focuses on contemporary American society.  Cultural differences in the mate-selection process and family life designs are emphasized.  The course is intended for students with diverse intellectual and professional interests and does not presuppose prior work in this area.

READINGS:  Reading assignments come from a book by B. Strong, C. DeVault, and B. Sayad, The Marriage and Family Experience, Wadsworth Publishing Co., and a collection of essays edited A. Skolnik and J. Skolnik, Family in Transition, Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.  Books are available at the Campus Book Store.  All students are encouraged to purchase the textbook.  Additional reading materials will be distributed throughout the class.

LECTURES:  Class lectures follow the sequence of the chapters in the textbook.  Some of the materials discussed in class are not covered in your reading assignments.  Students are advised to do readings for each session in advance of its coverage in class.  Questions from students are welcome, both during regular class sessions and office hours. 

REQUIREMENTS:  All students will be given a written mid-term exam in the 9th week of the class.  At the end of the semester, undergraduate students choose between writing a paper and taking a final examination.  Graduate level students will receive some additional class readings and are required to write a paper at the end of this class.  All tests are based on assigned readings, lectures, class discussions, and special video session materials.  Undergraduate students taking this class write a paper on the order of 8-12 double-spaced typewritten pages, and graduate students write a paper on the order of 12-16 double-spaced typewritten pages.  Participation in class discussions is strongly encouraged.  Individual contributions to class discussions will be reflected in the final grade.  The midterm and final exams are given equal weight in determining the final grade, with consistent class participation adding half a point to the overall grade.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES/OUTSOMES:  Using the latest sociological theory and research methods, students will learn the nature, structure, and main characteristics of marriage and family life in contemporary society.  At the end of course, students will be able to (1) distinguish key theoretical perspectives and methods used to study marriage and the family; (2) understand how gender roles acquired through socialization in different cultures inform the dating and mate selection process; (3) track the historical changes in the structure of marriage and the division of labor in the family; (4) identify the nature of marital conflict and forms of its resolution; (5) specify key stages in the divorce process and its impact on family members; and (6) familiarize themselves with the alternatives to the traditional family design.

EXAMINATIONS:  The course is divided into four units.  Unit I covers the materials from Chapters 1-3 of the textbook; Unit II -- Chapters 4-7; Unit III -- Chapters 8-11; and Unit IV -- Chapters 12-16.  Mid-term exam covers the readings from Sections 1 and 2.  The final exam covers the readings from Sections 3 and 4.  Please note that the examination questions will reflect your textbook readings as well as the materials covered in lectures, class discussions and special video sessions. 


Unit I. Meanings of Marriage and Family
Unit II. Intimate Relationships
Unit III. Family Life
Unit IV. Family Challenges and Strengths


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Supplementary Materials:

Divorce Rates
Sex Education
Wedding Rates
Dating Patterns
Sex Differences
Sex in the USSR
Marriage History
Adverse Childhood
Wedding Expenses
International Divorce
Teen Dating Violence
Gender Bias in Medicine
Divorce through Kid's Eyes
Parents and Children of Divorce