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COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Instructor: Patricia A. Masters, Ph.D.
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Sociology of Marriage and Families (SOCI 309, Section 001)
Office Hours: Monday, 3-4:15 PM; Tuesday and Thursday,1:45-2:45PM; or by appointment.
Office Address: 326B Robinson Hall (in the Sociology and Anthropology Department)
Home Office Phone: (703) 471-9830 (Note: This number is for my office at home where you can contact me directly or leave a message. Please do not call after 9:30 p.m.)
E-mail: email@example.com; http://mason.gmu.edu/~pmasters
The objective of this course is to provide a sociological framework for understanding the family as a public and private institution. We will examine the history of the family, gender roles within the family, and the relationship between government and families. In addition, the course will look at different types of families–working-class families, Vietnamese immigrant families, gay and lesbian families, an reconstituted (or step-) families. Family takes different forms depending on the ethnicity, race, economic circumstances, and sexual orientation of those who perceive themselves as "family, " and through readings, discussions and films, this course will broaden your understanding of your family experience and the lives of others whose families are different from yours. Through the sociological lens, we will see marriage and families as evolving social institutions.
The books required for this course are marked with an asterisk (*). The class will be divided into groups for reading the Rubin, Kibria, or Weston books which are marked with double asterisks (**).
Scott Coltrane. 1998. Gender and Families. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.*
Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg. 1988. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: Free Press.*
Lynell Hancock. Hands to Work: The Stories of Three Families Racing the Welfare Clock.* (The paperback version of this book is just out so my copy has a slightly different subtitle.)
E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly. 2002. For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered.* New York: W. W. Norton.
Lillian B. Rubin. 1994. Families on the Fault Line. New York: HarperPerennial.**
Nazli Kibria. 1993. Family on the Tightrope: The Changing Lives of Vietnamese Americans. New York: Princeton University Press.**
Kath Weston. 1997. (Revised Preface). Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship. New York: Columbia University Press.**
Several articles will be placed on library reserve at the Johnson Media Center. You will need to go to the Media Center, request the folder at the desk that contains the reading and xerox a copy. (These readings will be on reserve by the end of the second week of classes)
Readings selected thus far include:
“Barbie Girls vs. Sea Monsters: Children Constructing Gender, by Michael A. Messner, in Gender & Society, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp. 765-784 (December 2000).
“Marriage at First Sight,” by Paula Span, The Washington Post Magazine, 23 February 2003, 16-21, 34-38.
“The Buddy System,” by Laura Sessions Stepp, The Washington Post, 26 February 2003.
“Love in the Time of No Time,” Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Magazine, 23 November 2004, pp. 66-71, 124-128.
“Battered Woman: Strategies for Survival,” by Kathleen J. Ferraro, Reading 11.1, pp. 260-289, in Public and Private Families: A Reader. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2001.
Class assignments will include one long book report (20 points), and two short book reports (10 points each). Questions for the book reports are attached to this syllabus. In addition, you will receive 20 points for each of 5 assignments spaced throughout the semester. Finally, 10 points will be assessed for attendance and participation. Letter grades will be assigned as follows:
Based on 150 points;
150 = A+ (100%)
145-149 = A (97%)
141-144 = A- (94%)
137-140 = B+ (91%)
128-136 = B (85%)
121-127 = B- (81%)
114-120 = C+ (76)
111-113 = C (74%)
107-110 = C- (71%)
101-106 = D (67%)
100 points or fewer = F
Though as the Catalog states, "absence alone is not reason for lowering a grade," in this class, failure to participate because of excessive absences will lead to your receiving a lower grade. Clearly, you cannot participate in a class which you do not attend, and much of the material for this class will be covered through lectures that provide a context for the readings. Therefore, 10 points of your grade will be assessed on the basis of participation. You may miss up to three classes (for personal reasons or because of illness or family emergencies, or even "car trouble"). Beyond these three absences, however, your participation points will be decreased.
George Mason University, like all Virginia universities and colleges, operates under an Honor System, the provisions of which are spelled out in the University Catalog. As a faculty member, I am obligated to enforce this code, and any violations will result in an "F" for the course and possible academic suspension or dismissal. You should familiarize yourself with the requirements for citing sources of ideas and quotations that you use in your course work because lack of familiarity with "the rules" can lead to inadvertent plagiarism. Proper citation is also important to good scholarship. Finally, as a member of the academic community, you are obligated to report any violations of the Honor Code by other students that you observe.
If at any time you have questions about the material we are covering or other concerns about the course, I am available to discuss them with you, either during my regular office hours, at a time that is mutually convenient outside of these hours, or on the phone.
Class Schedule and Reading Assignments (Please note that the readings under each date are the readings we will discuss the next week. Be sure to keep up with the reading. I reserve the option of giving “pop quizzes” periodically to gauge whether students are doing reading.
Week 1: January 20: Introduction to the Course.
Readings for Weeks 1 and 2: Coltrane , Chapter 1; Mintz and Kellogg, Chapters 1-4.
Week 2" January 27-29: The History of the American Family
Readings for Week 3: Mintz and Kellogg, Chapters 5-10 and “Epilogue”
Week 3: February 3-5: History of the Family, concluded.
Film: “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter”
Readings for Week 4: Coltrane, Chapters 2 and 5. Reserve Reading: “Barbie Girls vs. Sea Monsters”.
Week 4: February 10-12: Learning Gender and Love, Sex, and Marriage
Readings for Week 5: Coltrane: Chapters 3 and 4. Reserve Readings: “Love in a Time of No Time,” and “The Buddy System.”
Film: “Juggling Work and Family
Week 5: February 17-19: Combining Work and Family Lives
Readings for Week 6: Students assigned to read Families on the Fault Line, by Lillian Rubin will report on this book and turn in their long book report on February 24; students not reading the entire Rubin book will also turn in short reports on this book.
Week 6: February 24-26: The Lives of Working Class Families (Discussion of Rubin book.)
Readings for Week 7: Students assigned to read Family Tightrope, by Nazli Kibria, will report on this book and turn in their long book report on March 2; students not reading the entire book will also turn in short book reports on this book. Reserve Reading: “Marriage at First Sight.”
Week 7: March 2-4: Diversity in Families (Discussion of Kibria book.)
Video on Gay Families
Week 8: Spring Break (March 7-March 14)
Readings for Week 9: Students assigned to read Families We Choose, by Kath Weston, will report on this book and turn in their long book report on March 16; students not reading the entire book will also turn in short books reports on this book.
Week 9: March 16-18: Diversity in Families (Discussion of Weston book.)
Readings for Week 10: Coltrane, Chapter 6; Readings on Family Violence on Library Reserve.
Week 10: March 23-25: Changing Laws on Marriage and Sexual Abuse.
Reading for Week 11: Hetherington and Kelly: Chapters 1-6. Reserve Reading: “Battered Women: Strategies for Survival.”
Week 11: March 30-April 1: Divorce, Remarriage, and Reconstituted Families
Reading for Week 12: Hetherington and Kelly, Chapters 8-11.
Week 12: April 6-8: Divorce, Remarriage, and Reconstituted Families (continued).
Reading for Week 13: Hancock, Chapters 1-7 and Introduction
Week 13: April 13-15–The State and Poor Families
Reading for Week 14: Hancock, Chapters 8-16
Week 14: April 20-22: The State and Poor Families (continued).
Reading for Week 15: Hancock, Chapter 16 and Part V (including Epilogue and Reporting Notes.
Week 15: Conclude discussion of the State and Poor Families. Last Class.
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