Families & Social Change

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
SOCI 2250
Families & Social Change
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 4 hrs. per week / semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:  lectures, small group discussions, audio-visual presentations, essay research discussions and specialist guest speakers.

Course Description
This course examines the distinctive features of families as social groups including their internal dynamics, location within wider kin networks and communities, their life cycle, and evolution since the Industrial Revolution. It also examines the relations between the family as an institution and the economic and political institutions of the society; and raises a number of issues concerning the supposed centrality of the family in modern society.
Course Content


  1. Introduction
    • the Residential Family
    • the Family and Wider Kin Groupings
    • the Family of Orientation and of Procreation
    • Nuclear and Extended Families
    • the Incest Taboo
    • the Family Enclosed in a Neighbourhood and in Various Sub-cultures
  2. Main Theoretical Approaches
    • Structural-functionalism and the "Familistic Package"
    • Life Cycle and Developmental Approaches
    • Internal Dynamics;  the Micro-interactionist Approach
    • Political-Economy and other Critical Perspectives
    • Feminist Perspectives
  3. The Modern Family and the Traditional Family
    • Continuity and Change in the Role of the Family from the Time of the Industrial Revolution
  4. Family Processes and the Life Cycle of the family
    • Childhood Socialization:
      • The role of the family and other agents of socialization
      • The expectation to have children, and childless couples
    • Family Dynamics During Teen Years:
      • The process of dating and of courtship
      • Mate selection and pressures towards homogamy
    • The Marriage Contract, Formal and Informal Aspects
      • Marital satisfaction
      • Stage-theory in relation to the marriage process
    • Separation, Divorce, Annulment:
      • Theories and explanations of divorce rates and rates of remarriage
      • Family fragmentation and the role of custodial and non-custodial parent
    • The Grandparental Role in Modern Society:
      • Some wider issues of aging, ageism and increased longevity
  5. Some Aspects of the Role of the State vis-a-vis the Family
    • Family Law:
      • Marriage, divorce, custody, child-support, family assets
      • The family court process - a non-adversarial approach
      • Issues of gender equality in relation to
    • Family Policy:
      • Jurisdictional issues
      • Fiscal policies and their effects
      • The goals of non-fiscal policies and initiatives
  6. Some Other Contemporary Issues in brief
    • Multiculturalism and the Role of Ethnic Groups in Cultural Retention and in the Supervision of Constituent Families
    • Family Violence and Abuse:
      • Brief discussion of the Women's Movement and Feminist thought
      • The nature of 'domestic' violence and abuse
      • The role of various State agents and of other authorities


Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. A basic understanding of the special features of families as social groupings.
  2. An ability to handle and use key sociological concepts employed in sociological research on the role of the family in society
  3. A basic appreciation of the influences on family life from other main social institutions and from the general values of the culture
  4. A familiarity with the main topical research themes being currently pursued by sociologists of the family, and with some of their principal conclusions to date.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy and will include both formative and summative components. 

The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

Course evaluation will include some of the following:  examinations requiring paragraph and short essay answers, participation in class discussions, unsolicited comments and questions, essay research and final essay submissions.  An example of one such evaluation scheme might be:

First in-class examination  15%
Second in-class examination  15%
Essay assignment  30%
Class Participation  15%
Final Examination  25%
Total  100%
Textbook Materials

Texts will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:

  • McDaniel, S. and Tepperman, L. (2011). Close Relations: An Introduction to  the Sociology of Families. Toronto: Pearson Canada.
  • Ward, M. (2011). The Family Dynamic: A Canadian Perspective. Toronto: Nelson Education Canada.
  • Mandell, N. (2011). Canadian Families: Diversity, Conflict and Change. Toronto: Nelson Education Canada.


SOCI 1125 or SOCI 1145 or SOCI 1155 or OLD SOCI 235