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Families & Social Change

Course Code: SOCI 2250
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Sociology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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

Methods of Instruction

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.

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%

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.

course prerequisites

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

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.

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