Kari A Lerum
Examination of the historical development of the family, and the theoretical underpinnings of family relationships. Discusses current trends and changes in the family and family life.
In recent years within the U.S., "the family" has become a politically charged battlefield. At the center of this battle are competing definitions of the value, purpose, and definition of "family," as well as the role that the state should play in family life. While opinions differ widely on these issues, some statistical patterns are clear. Some of these patterns include a decline in nuclear (heterosexual) families, an increase in single-person households, and an increase in single-parent families. Additionally the late 20th century witnessed several new family-oriented political movements, including gay family rights, fatherhood rights, welfare reform, and domestic violence awareness and legislation. This course will discuss the economic, political, and social causes and implications of such demographic changes and political movements, with an eye toward how these patterns intersect with cultural constructions of who really "belongs" in the greater American family. The course will incorporate some cross-national and cross-historical comparisons, but the emphasis will be on family trends and experiences within the contemporary United States.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Interest in critically analyzing the politics and patterns of contemporary American families, including your own family.
Class assignments and grading
Class assignments will include: a quiz, a take-home midterm, a field research project, a reading journal, and seminar style discussions