Sociology of the Family
This course will explore patterns of change and continuity in family life and how these changes both reflect and impact upon economic, political and cultural change in the wider society. Processes of modernization, involving industrialization, urbanization, and centralized state formation, have profoundly affected family forms. The theorist David Cheal argues that modernism, with its faith in linear progress has given way to the post-modern experience of pluralism, disorder, and fragmentation. The mix of competing and contradictory theories of family in turn reflect, and reflect upon, this disorder. Contemporary sociological theories of family life provide the basis upon which policy makers at state level design policies and legitimate therapeutic and social-work intervention in problem families.
Course materials divide into roughly four main issues or sections
1) The first section of the course focuses on conceptualizing "family", the problems involved in defining the subject-matter of "family life", the shift from the traditional nuclear-family model to diverse familial experience and from the certainties of modernism to the chaos of post-modernity reflected in David Cheal's analysis of sociology of the family. Weeks 1-4 Text chapters 1-3
2) The second section focuses on political economy, the State, and family life. It begins with an overview of Donzelot's analysis of the involvement of the State and social science disciplines in the management and reorganization of family forms in France during the transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism. This study forms a backdrop for exploring how economic relations, and how men and women earn their living, impacts upon family life and gender relations within the home Weeks 5-8 Text chapters 4-5
3) The third section focuses on parenting and Family therapy. It reviews the analyses by Karen Swift and Caroline Knowles of state- administered social-work practices and the conceptualization of mothering, child neglect and child abuse. This leads into an exploration of forms of child care and legislation governing parenting leave. Weeks 9-11 Text chapters 6-7 sections from chapters 9-10
4) The last major focus will be on understanding family violence. Lectures will review the political struggles that have emerged around the conceptualization and measurement of levels of domestic abuse, using the work of Gelles and Loseke, and individual and social-structural explanations for the prevalence and differential rates of violence. Weeks 12-13 Text chapter 8
As time and student interests direct the course will include discussion of selected topics. such as divorce, lesbian and gay families, child poverty, abortion rights, "New Family Values" and state policies towards family.
C. James Richardson 1996 Family Life: Patterns and PerspectivesToronto:McGraw-Hill Ryerson
Supplementary Readings will also be circulated.
Assignments Four critical Reflections on course material to correspond with the four main sections of the course a) Conceptualizing family Due Jan 30 b) The State, economy and family Due March 1 c) Parenting and Family Therapy Due March 27 d) Family Violence Due April 10 Each critical reflection should draw out the core ideas from readings and lectures and reflect on their relevance for understanding personal experiences of family life, along with current events in media, magazines, social policy issues, and the like. Expected length is 5-6 pages. Each worth 15%
Major research paper on selected issue. Take any chapter of the Richardson text as a starting point for further research on the issue raised. Find three additional academic sources, such as chapters from books, journal articles, monographs, statistics- Canada reports, that present differing views and information, and reflect on how these additional materials alter or challenge your response to the chapter in the Richardson text. Due March 29. Value 40%
Option: Groups of 2-3 students may opt to do a class presentation based on one chapter from Richardson. Each group is expected to draw on a variety of sources to bring the issue alive for the class, and in particular to present and lead a debate on social policy concerns for Canada. A group grade will be assigned for the presentation, worth 20% Each group participant will also get a grade of 20% for a written submission of his/her research contribution to the presentation. Due date for the presentation is the week in which that chapter is scheduled for class reading.
etailed Course Outline
WEEK 1 Introduction and
Standard theories of nuclear family form and its critics The feminist challenge Diversity of experience within families Problems in defining "family" policy consequences of different definitions
Richardson: Introduction and Chapter 1: "Images of Family Life"
Smith, Dorothy E 1999 Writing the Social: Critique, Theory and Investigations. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Ch 8 "The Standard North American Family: SNAF as an Ideological Code" Gubrium, Jaber F. and James A. Holstein 1987 "The Private Image: Experiential Location and Method in Family Studies" Journal of Marriage and the Family 49 (November):773-786 Eichler, Margrit 1988 Families in Canada Today Toronto:Gage Publishing, chapters 1-4
WEEK 2-3 Theorizing about
Modernization and post-modernism concept abandonment, chaos and pluralism how do we claim to "know" about families?
Richardson: Chapter 2: Cheal "The One and the Many" Thompson "Feminist Methodology for Family Studies"
WEEK 4 Demographic Perspectives
on Family Life
A quick look at statistical trends, including longevity, fertility rates, divorce and re-marriage, and some of the correlates of these changes.
Richardson Chapter 3
WEEKS 5-6 Historical shifts
in Society and family forms
Lectures will focus on Jacque Donzelot The Policing of Families 1979, a complex text that explores major shifts in family forms during the transition from feudalism to capitalism, and the rise of the professions of social work, psychology, juvenile justice, and education as mechanisms used by the state to control and re-structure family life.
Richardson Chapter 4: Hamilton "Women, Wives and Mothers"
WEEK 6-7 Economy and Family
Lectures will focus on the complex inter-relationship between economy, work, labour-force participation of women and family life. Key questions involve how different modes of earning a living impact upon family life; how patriarchal assumptions impact on labour-force opportunities and how those opportunities in turn impact on gender relations within the home.
Richardson Chapter 4: Sinclair and Felt Harrison and Laliberte
Smith, D.E. 1977 "Women, the Family and Corporate Capitalism" pp 32-48 in Stephenson, M. (ed) Women in Canada 2nd edition. Don Mills: General Publishing
Parr, Joy, 1990 The Gender of Breadwinners. Women, Men and Change in Two Industrial Towns 1880-1950 Toronto, U. of T Press.
Bradbury, B 1993 Working Families, Age, Gender, and Daily Survival in Industrializing Montreal Toronto: McClelland and Stewart
WEEK 8 Gender Relations
An exploration of the gender politics of marriage, and managing the double or treble shifts of waged work, domestic labour and child care.
Richardson Chapter 8 "Aspects of Modern Marriage" Vogler and Pahl Blain O'Connor
Luxton, M. 1980 More Than a Labour of Love Toronto: Women's Educational Press Hochschild, A. 1990 The Second Shift New York: Avon Blain, Jenny 1994 "Discourses of Agency and Domestic Labour" Journal of Family Issues 15:4 (Dec):515-549
MIDTERM. SPRING BREAK
WEEKS 9-10 Parenting Practices; Conceptualizing Motherhood and Fatherhood Lectures will follow up Donzelot's theoretical focus on social work, the state, and policing of families. Two major texts will be reviewed and supplementary readings provided. These authors argue that the discourses of child neglect and bad parenting are strongly class biased and essentially disguise issues of poverty and structural inequality by translating them into individual psychological problems and failings.
Swift, Caroline 1996 Manufacturing 'Bad Mothers'. A Critical Perspective on Child Neglect Toronto: University of Toronto Press Knowles, Caroline 1996 Family Boundaries. The Invention of Normality and Dangerousness Peterborough: Broadview Press
Richardson Chapter 7 "Parents and Children Ann-Marie Ambert Rhonda Lenton
Closely related to the above debate is the discourse on mothering, and the relationship between labour-force participation by mothers, the care of children, and the problematizing of day-care. As feminist theory has challenged concepts of motherhood so also conceptions of fatherhood have come under scrutiny. Lectures will also explore State policies around the provision of parenting leave and support to single-parent families and the impact of these policies on mothers and fathers
Richardson Chapter 6 "Mothers and Fathers"
Richardson Chapter 9 Whitehead "Dan Quale Was Right" Richardson
Chapter 10 Eichler "Lone Parent Families. An Instable Category in Search of Stable Policies
Crittendon, Danielle 1996 "The Mother of all problems' Saturday Night (April):44-54 Stacey, Judith 1999 "Virtual Truth with a Vengeance" Contemporary Sociology 28,1 January:18-23 Philip, Margaret 1996 "Influential child-care advisor under fire" The Globe and Mail Saturday April 27, A5 MacDonald, Cameron L. 1998 "Manufacturing Motherhood: The Shadow Work of Nannies and Au Pairs" Qualitative Sociology 21,1:25-53 Murray, Susan B. 1998 "Child Care Work: Intimacy in the Shadows of Family Life" Qualitative Sociology 12,2:149-168
Ferree, Myra Marx 1993 "The Rise and Fall of 'Mommy Politics': Feminism and Unification in (East) Germany Feminist Studies91,1:89-111 Haas, Linda 1992 Equal Parenthood and Social Policy. A Study of Parental Leave in Sweden New York: State University of New York Press
WEEK 12 Understanding Family
Lectures will focus both on controversies surrounding measurement of the extent of domestic violence and explorations of why domestic violence occurs and its class and gendered character.
Richardson chapter 8 "Understanding Family Violence Dekeseredy and Kelly Dobash et.al.
Gelles, Richard J and Donileen R. Loseke (eds 1993 Current Controversies on Family Violence Newbury Park: Sage Walker, Gillian A. 1992 "The Conceptual Politics of Struggle: Wife Battering, the Women's Movement and the state" pp 317-342 Studies in Political Economy 33:66-90 McKendy, John 1997 The Class Politics of Domestic Violence Journal of Socialogy and Social Welfare Sept. XXIV (3):135-155
WEEK 13 Selected Issues
in Family Policy
Single-parent families and social safety net
Lesbian and Gay families and the law
Aging and family care for the elderly
Richardson Chapter 9 "The Aftermath of Divorce"
Chapter 10 "Current Issues in Family Life"
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Sociology 2633 Sociology of the Family
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