Sociology 323                                                                                             rev 3/31/2018


Sociology of the Family




Spring quarter, 2018

Class Meets Mondays, 11:30A-2:20P

Bldg 320, room 107



Michael J. Rosenfeld


Department of Sociology

McClatchy Hall (Building 120) room 124

Office Hour: Wednesdays, 1:30-2:30

(NOTE that the website contains reading questions and much additional class information)




            The American family has changed a great deal in the past few decades. Extra-marital cohabitation and divorce have risen sharply in the past 30 years. Young adults are marrying later than ever before. Interracial marriage and same-sex cohabitation have increased. Same-sex marriage has emerged as one of the most divisive political issues in the U.S. Women’s roles in the labor force have changed, and women’s place in society and within the home seems to have changed as well. What do all these changes mean? Are recent changes in the American family really as dramatic as they seem?  We will examine family change from historical, social, demographic, and legal perspectives.


All work and notes in the class will be posted to Canvas


* Reading discussants (for assigned reading and for supplementary reading) will post a page of notes with a flow chart (see the guidelines posted on my website) at least a day before class when the readings are to be discussed.

* Student research presentations (whether it is a draft paper, a literature review, an outline, a Powerpoint slide show, or some combination of these) will be posted to the class Canvas site 5 days before the presentation.

* Students who are commenting on another student’s presentation will comment in class, and post some comments to Canvas after the presentation.

* Comments on one other students’ paper will consist of a 1-2 page memo, which will be posted to Canvas after the due date for student papers.




Computer use in class:

Computer use in class is limited to viewing class materials.



Required Reading, all available at the Stanford Bookstore

* Goldthorpe, J.E. 1987. Family Life in Western Societies: A Historical Sociology of Family Relationships in Britain and North America. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN-10: 0521337526, $43

* Cherlin, Andrew J. 1992. Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage. Second Edition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN-10: 067455082X. $25

* Waite, Linda and Maggie Gallagher. 2001. The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially. Broadway Books.  ISBN : 0767906322. $11

* Friedan, Betty. 2001 [1963]. The Feminine Mystique. WW. Norton. ISBN : 0393322572. $11

* Wallerstein, Judith, and Sandra Blakeslee. 2004. Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce.  ISBN : 0618446893. $10

* Rosenfeld, Michael J. 2007. The Age of Independence: Interracial Unions, Same-Sex Unions, and the Changing American Family. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN-10: 0674034902. $20

* Hochschild, Arlie and Anne Machung. 2003 [1989]. The Second Shift. New Updated Edition. Penguin.  ISBN : 0142002925. $11

* Becker, Gary S. 1993. A Treatise on the Family: Enlarged Edition. ISBN-10:  0674906993. $38




For Graduate Students (soc 323):

* Assigned Reading Discussant, one week


* Regular class participation


* Supplementary reading discussant, one week


* In-class research presentation


* Your discussion of another student’s research presentation


* Final paper


* Your evaluation of another student’s final paper





For Supplementary readings, see my website








Week 1:


April 2

class orientation



Week 2:


April 9

First half of the class:

Required text: Goldthorpe’s Family Life in Western Societies (read the whole book).


Second half of the class: Supplementary readings TBA

Week 3:


April 16

First half of the class:

Required text: Andrew Cherlin’s Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage (read the whole book)


Second half of the class: Supplementary readings TBA

Week 4:


April 23

First half of the class:

Required text: Waite and Gallagher’s The Case for Marriage (read the whole book)


Second half of the class: Supplementary readings TBA

Week 5:


April 30

First half of the class: Sections  from Becker’s Treatise on the Family

Introduction, Ch2 (Division of Labor), Ch 4 (Assortative Mating) Ch 5 (Demand for Children), Ch 8 (Altruism in the Family), Ch 10 (marriage and divorce), Ch 11(Family and the State)


Second half of the class: Supplementary readings TBA

Week 6:


May 7

First half of the class:

Required text: Rosenfeld’s The Age of Independence (read the whole book)


Supplementary readings TBA

Week 7:


May 14

First half of the class:

Required text: Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (read chapters 1-6 and ch 14)


Week 8:


May 21

Required text: Wallerstein and Blakseslee’s Second Chances (chapters 1-7, 15-18, and the appendix).


Week 9:


May 28

Memorial day, no class



Week 10:


June 4

Student presentations

June 8

Final student papers due