Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

 

Department or Program: Sociology
Course Number: 212
Number of Credits: 3

Offered every semester. Grade only. Recommended prerequisite: Introduction to Sociology (Soc 150).

Course Title: The Family

Catalog Description:

Analysis of the family as an intimate, resilient, and dynamic social institution. Sociological influences on the family by legislation and law, technology, medicine, and other engines of social change.

 

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2: yes

This is a new course proposal _____. (If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4).

Department Contact Person for this course:

R. Stephen Schwartz, Minne 224, ext 5422

Email: ________________________

A2C2 requires 55 copies of the proposal

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UNIVERSITY STUDIES COURSE: Arts & Sciences Core – Social Sciences

The Family (Sociology 212)

Social Science Outcomes

  1. To understand humans as individuals and as parts of larger social systems.
  2. Socialization is a universal process: beginning in infancy, every family (primary
    group), tribe and social group teaches members its language, norms and values.
    For example, pre-verbal interaction and symbolic interaction via language acquisition processes are initiated within the family of origin which, in turn, is influenced regarding language and norms governing behavior by a larger macro society. To paraphrase John Donne, no person is an island because of membership in a family, in whatever form the family structure exists (e.g. nuclear, extended, etc.). Individuals are part of a specific primary group–as–family, and are concomitantly affected by the larger social entity (e.g. the tribe, social definitions of status honor, culture, and society), and ineluctable social change.

  3. To understand the historical context of the social sciences.
  4. Historical contexts for sociological theory as applied in The Family will include the research and perspectives of several classical sociologists. These include Max Weber and the complex value system that shapes a family’s social status and style of life; Bronislaw Malinowski’s ethnographic emphasis on observing what people do in the intimate family relationship; Emile Durkheim’s observations regarding ritual and its significance in family interaction processes; and, George H. Mead’s concept of symbolic interaction. Selected works of these sociological thinkers will be used in studying the historical context and changes in the institution of the American family as it has evolved over time.

  5. To identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience.
  6. Empirical and hypothetical issues germane to family members and their intra-relationship in the family unit, and the effects on the individuals and the family by outside forces over which they have virtually no control, will be examined. Textbook examples, current news events and student suggestions regarding problems and questions pertinent to the family will provide topics for objective discussion.

  7. To become familiar with the process of theory-building and theoretical frameworks used by the social sciences.
  8. A liberal arts education should provide opportunities for adults (students) to learn to like to think; and, in an environment which emphasizes constructive critical thinking. As a formulative initial step, students will be introduced to – or, re-acquainted with – the three major theoretical frameworks in sociology:

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    structural functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. This will include contemporary variations on these, and other sociological theories. Emphasis is on symbolic interaction because of its remarkable versatility as a micro analytical theory for studying, for example, family roles and relations, dual-earner families, crisis, and other dimensions of family life. Theories are woven into the course to enhance student understanding of functional and dysfunctional families.

  9. To understand research methods used in the social sciences.
  10. Social science research examples are utilized extensively in top quality, university-level sociology of the family textbooks. Research methodology – strengths, weaknesses, reliability – is presented through appropriate examples specifically relevant to the extraordinary range of studies on numerous aspects of the family. Discussion includes the focus of social science research, goals and outcomes, the methodology, group(s) researched, results and conclusions.

  11. To describe and detail discipline-specific knowledge and its applications.
  12. Discipline–specific knowledge includes subject matter areas noted in the course syllabus. To reiterate, sociological theory is implemented throughout the course in analyzing and explaining family study issues and for encouraging critical thinking. Extensive bibliographical references on specific research areas are included in the textbook.

  13. To understand differences among and commonalities across humans and their experience.

Sociology of The Family examines areas of similarities and differences among family members and families as a consequence of socialization, social experience, values, educational attainment, gender, age, and social and economic status. Appropriate references and discussion regarding selected examples of group variations, with research cited, is included in the course content.

 

 

 

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Syllabus

The Family (Sociology 212)

University Studies Course (Arts & Sciences Core: Social Sciences)

Syllabus (Fall Semester, 2001)

Section 01: M,W,F, 8:00-8:50 a.m., Minn� 239

Professor R. Stephen Schwartz, Ph.D.

Office Minn� Hall 224 Office phone: 507/457-5422

Department phone: 507-457-5420

Office hours: M,W,F, 7:30-8:00 am,

11:00-12:00. Other office periods

by appointment. Please make

appointments directly with me.

 

Course Description

Analysis of the family as an intimate, resilient, and dynamic social institution. Sociological influences on the family by legislation and law, technology, medicine, and other engines of social change. Recommended prerequisite: Introduction to Sociology, (Sociology 150).

 Course Goals

University Studies: Social Science Outcomes (referred to as US: SSO in the General Outline of the syllabus) help guide the course content, class activities, and assessments of the student’s participation in the class.

 Course Objectives

To provide the student with knowledge which can contribute to his or her understanding of the institution of the family. To provide the student with an academic opportunity to analyze and discuss empirical findings, and theoretical perspectives, in regard to research on various aspects of the family (e.g., courtship, roles, marriage, family interaction, etc.). Activities may include focus group discussions, panel presentations, and in-class papers.

 

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University Studies: Social Science Outcomes

(referred to as SSO in the General Outline)

  1. To understand humans as individuals and as parts of larger social systems.
    1. Goals: Students will understand and use sociological theory in studying intra- and inter-family roles and relationships. Symbolic interaction theory will be emphasized. Activities include student discussion on applying sociological theories (included in the textbook and are noted in the lectures) to empirical examples of family circumstances such as courtship, parenting, and financial decisions affecting the family.
  1. To understand the historical context of the social sciences.
    1. Outcome: Student recognition of the complex array of historical changes, and their precipitators, and consequences for the family. Discussion activities will focus on student-selected examples of past and contemporary events which affect hypothetical families similar to theirs (I do not ask students personal questions). Hypothetical scenarios will be used to develop objectivity and critical thinking in discussing the precipitators and the consequences and effects on family life.
  1. To identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience.
    1. Students will become aware of diverse family forms and family interaction in the U.S. Activities will include class discussion of family forms such as the nuclear, single-parent household headed by single-mother (e.g. divorce, out-of-wedlock) or single father; adoption issues; and the modified extended family. Emphasis will be on selected problem areas, e.g. financial, family roles and relations, and mechanisms for rectifying or ameliorating these problems. The framing of research questions will use selected sociological theories to examine, as examples, attitudinal shifts regarding the permanence of the marriage bond among specific social groups; and, the effects of geographical and occupational mobility and family support mechanisms.
  1. To become familiar with the process of theory-building and theoretical frameworks used by the social sciences.
    1. Students will become aware of the reification of "family values," and the importance of constructive values in resilient families. Discussion and activity will include students listing several examples of "family values" and noting why they are significant. Students will then discuss the family context in which these values (and practices) contribute to

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strengthening family roles and relationships, and decision-making
processes. Dysfunctional values and practices will also be discussed. Theory building will focus on the concepts of value and reification. Students will be asked to use a theoretical framework (e.g. symbolic inter-action, conflict theory) in thinking critically about the dynamics and significance of family values, their origins and effect on family members.

  1. To understand research methods used in the social sciences.
    1. Research methods and methodology as applied to anecdotal family situations will be used to convey to students the remarkable array of precipitators of family conflicts and/or crisis, and how families cope with these difficulties. Activities include discussion of several crisis situations in hypothetical families with emphasis on coping mechanisms that are successful in resolving the crisis, and crisis in which a mutually agreed upon (successful) resolution is impossible to achieve. Student understanding of sociological research methods will be enhanced by, first, providing anecdotal examples of selected family crisis situations. Then, by asking students to formulate research methods which they would implement to probe for causes and potential solutions, and effects regarding the crisis (bearing in mind that a solution may be equivocal at best, illusory at worst).
  1. To describe and detail discipline-specific knowledge and its applications.
    1. Students will examine transition in roles and responsibilities of family members as they face various life events (e.g. university graduation, marriage, parenthood, retirement, catastrophic illness and both). Activities focus on various life stages and inevitable transitions in roles and relations. Examples for discussion and analysis include leaving home to attend WSU, graduation and professional employment, role changes as parents grow older (gerontology) and, perhaps, dependent, and death.
  1. To understand differences among and commonalities across humans and their experience.
    1. A pragmatic perspective on how, for example, economics, legislation and technology may affect the family. Discussion of selected changes in the U.S. and the effects of these changes on the family. For example, health care costs, taxes and Social Security, and long-term care and medical decisions.

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Required Textbook

Human Intimacy - Marriage, The Family & Its Meaning -- (8th ed) - Frank D. Cox
Recommended

College/University-level dictionary (e.g. Webster’s New College)
Required Examinations

Four required multiple-choice examinations (50 pts each) including the final: (200 points total)

I 1-4 & lectures
II 5-8 & lectures
III 9, 10, 13, 14 & lectures
Final 15-17 & lectures

 

Course Grade – 200 points total

A------------------------155
B------------------------140-154
C------------------------120-139
D------------------------110-119
F------------------------109 & below

Periodic unannounced in-class assignments may be given. Each assignment may be worth at least one point, and the point(s) will be included with the student’s test score total.

Any changes in course requirements, grading, assignments, etc. will be announced in class.

Attendance: REGULAR ATTENDANCE IS ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED AS PART OF THE CLASS REQUIREMENTS. See the professor about legitimate excused absences (e.g. nursing clinicals, work, university activities, family, etc.).

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General Outline

For each topic below, there is a reference to appropriate University Studies: Social Science Outcomes (referred to below as US: SSO) which are clearly defined in this syllabus (page 5-6) and have been explained in class. After each topic, the SSO is noted as (for example) #2, 5, etc. The student should refer to the Course Goals which help guide the content, activities and assessments in this course. The Social Science Outcome (US: SSO) designations (e.g. US: SSO #2, 5, etc.) are dynamic, not rigid or inclusive, and serendipitous changes will be explained in the lectures.

Topic 1 Sociological Theory and Research on the Family
                US: SSO #3, 4, 5

Topic 2 Decision Making and Relationships
                US: SSO #3, 6

Topic 3 Human Intimacy, Marriage, the Family and Its Meaning:
                The Basic Assumptions
                US: SSO #1, 2, 7

Topic 4 American Ways of Love: Conceptualization and Reification
                US: SSO #4, 5, 7

Topic 5 Dating, Courtship, and Mate Selection
                US: SSO #3, 6

Topic 6 Marriage, Intimacy, Expectations
                US: SSO #1, 2, 3, 7

Topic 7 Communication in Intimate Relationships
                US: SSO #3, 4, 5, 6

Topic 8 Roles in Marriage
                US: SSO #1, 2, 7

Topic 9 The Dual-Worker Family
                US: SSO #3, 5, 6, 7

Topic 10 The Importance of Making Sound Economic Decisions
                US: SSO #3, 5, 6

Topic 11 Values and Sexuality
                US: SSO #1, 3, 7

Topic 12 Family Planning, Pregnancy, and Birth
                US: SSO #3, 4, 7

Topic 13 The Challenge of Parenthood
                US: SSO #1, 4, 6

Topic 14 Family Life Stages: Middle-Age to Surviving Spouse
                US: SSO #1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Topic 15 Family Crises
                US: SSO #3, 5, 6

Topic 16 The Dissolution of Marriage: Spouses and Children, Etc…
                US: SSO #1, 2, 4, 5, 7

Topic 17 Remarriage: Spouses and Children, Etc.
                US: SSO #1, 6, 7

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CLASS DISCUSSION IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED.

Office Periods: M,W,F, 7:30-8:00 am, 11:00-12:00. Other office periods by appointment. Please make appointments directly with me.

Office: Minne 224

Office Phone: 457-5422

Department Phone: 457-5420

 

No voice mail and no e-mail.

THE STUDENT IS CORDIALLY INVITED TO MEET WITH ME TO DISCUSS ACADEMIC QUESTIONS OF INTEREST TO THE STUDENT.