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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kari A Lerum
BIS 331
Bothell Campus

The Family in U.S. Society

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.

Class description

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

Recommended preparation

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


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Pamela A. De Priest
Date: 04/13/2004