Questions for each reading assignment:


Updated regularly, so check back as the quarter progresses.




Week 1:


Sep 26

Introduction to the class

Sep 28

Cherlin, Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Chapter 1 (Demographic Trends).

    * What is a cohort?

    * What is the Baby Boom and when did it occur?

    * Can you see evidence of the Baby Boom in Figure 1-1?

    * What is the trend in extra marital cohabitation, and what is the effect of education on cohabitation? (see Figure 1-2)

    * What is the effect of longer life expectancy on the percentage of marriages that eventually end in divorce?





Week 2:


Oct 3

Cherlin, Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Chapters 2+3 (Explanations and Consequences)

    * What is the difference between 'period' and 'cohort' explanations for the baby boom? What evidence is available for each explanation?

    * What is the trend in married women's labor force participation, how might this effect the divorce rate?

    * What is Easterlin's cohort size hypothesis?

    * What are the effects of divorce and what are some limitations of the research on the effects of divorce?



Oct 5

Cherlin, Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Chapters 4+5 (Race and Poverty, The State of Our Unions)

    * What are the differences between white and black family patterns in the late 20th century, and what explains these differences?

    * What is the story of the infamous 'Harvard-Yale' study of female marriage probabilities?



Week 3:


Oct 10

Wilson, The Marriage Problem, Ch 1-3 (Two Nations, Why Do Families Exist, Sex and the Marriage Market)

    * What does Wilson view as some of the drawbacks to cohabitation (from a personal or societal view) as compared to marriage?

    * What are some of the advantages of marriage for the couple, for children, and for society?

    * What is the sex ratio, and how can it explain culture and gender roles?



Oct 12

Wilson, The Marriage Problem, Ch 4 (The Rise of Modern Marriage)

    * How does the history of marriage relate to the history of property rights?

    * Where do the ideas of individual freedom and individual rights come from, and how do these ideas effect marriage?





Week 4:


Oct 17

Wilson, The Marriage Problem, Ch 5-7 (African Americans and Slavery, Mother-Only Families, Divorce)

    * What was Gutman's argument about slavery and the black family, and what is Wilson's critique of this argument?

    * Does welfare give poor women an incentive to have children out of wedlock?

    * Compare Wilson's analysis on the effects of divorce to Cherlin's analysis.



Oct 19

Wilson, The Marriage Problem, Ch 8-9 (Working Mothers, The Cultural Challenge)

    * What is Wilson's view of working mothers? Does women's access to the formal labor market count as progress?

    * What kind of gender equality does Wilson believe in?

    * How does the fraying of the traditional family system (in Wilson's view) undermine social order?




Week 5:


Oct 24

Bailey, Front Porch, p. 1-56 (Introduction, Calling Cards and Money, The Economy of Dating)

    * What was 'calling', what is 'dating', how do they differ?

    * When did dating replace calling, and what explains the transition? What did it mean for a woman to 'have her hat on'?



Bailey, Front Porch, p. 57-96 (The Worth of a Date, Sex Control)

    * Who had the money to pay for the date and what was the significance of this for gender relations?

    * What were the Kinsey reports, what did the reports show and how were they received?

    * What were college rules for dating in the mid 20th century, and what do these rules imply about social norms more generally?





Week 6:


Oct 31

Bailey, Front Porch, p. 97-145 (The Etiquette of Masculinity, Scientific Truth, Epilogue)

    * What kind of evidence does Bailey rely upon, and how valid do you think it is?

    * What are the intellectual and cultural sources which advocate inherent gender differences in behavior and attitudes between men and women, and how did these theories fare in the 1960s?

    * What customs have replaced dating, and why?



Nov 2

Arnett and Taber, "Adolescence Terminable and Interminable"

    * What is the difference between broad and narrow socialization, and what kinds of societies foster the different kinds of socialization?

    * What kinds of pathways through adolescence can be expected in social groups which emphasize broad socialization? How about social groups which emphasize narrow socialization?

    * Why is adolescence a time of recklessness and experimentation? What do different societies do to control or channel adolescent energy?




Week 7:


Nov 7

Shammas, "Anglo-American Household Government"

    * In what sense was the household a government in Colonial North America?

    * What was the European settlers' attitude towards the family system of the Native Americans, and why were the Europeans concerned about family norms among the native peoples?



Nov 9

Rosenfeld and Kim "The Independence of Young Adults"

    * What is the independent life stage, and what is its significance?

    * Are single young adults more or less likely to live with their parents than they were in the past?

    * What is the relationship between geographic mobility and nontraditional unions?





Week 8:


Nov 14

Rosenfeld "Young Adulthood as a Factor in Social Change"

    * What is the evidence for the claim that family government did not decline during the industrial revolution?

    * How does the persistence of family government explain the absence of nontraditional unions in the past?

    * What were the views of Calhoun, Hareven, LePlay, and Ellen Rothman's diarists about the effect of industrialization on the family?



Nov 16

Sullivan, Same Sex Marriage Pro and Con, chapters 4 and 5

    * What are the politically Left arguments against same sex marriage?

    * What are the politically conservative arguments for same sex marriage?

    * What do these different political perspectives on same sex marriage tell us about the different political views of what marriage means?








Nov 21

Thanksgiving Recess

Nov 23

Thanksgiving Recess



Week 9:


Nov 28

Harris, The Nurture Assumption, Preface, Introduction, Ch 1,2,3,9,10


    * What have researchers learned about birth order, and how does Harris interpret the results?

    * In what sense do good children produce good parents?

    * If socialization theory is so misguided, why is the theory so popular?

    * What does Harris have to say about Freud, Bettleheim, Mead, and Baumrind?

    * What role does peer socialization play compared to parental socialization?



Nov 30

Harris, The Nurture Assumption, Ch 13, 14, 15


    * If Harris doesn’t believe that nurture matters, then what is wrong with being cruel to your children?

    * What are the causes and effects of divorce?

    * What can parents do to raise good children?





Week 10:


Dec 5

Sullivan, Same Sex Marriage Pro and Con, chapters 3 and 8

    * What are the legal precedents for same sex marriage, and what is the current legal status of same sex marriage?

    * What do incest, polygamy, and adultery have to do with same sex marriage?

    * What does the 'slippery slope' argument imply about marriage and history?




Dec 7

 Last class, no reading assignment.