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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brian Serafini
SOC 352
Seattle Campus

The Family

The family as a social institution. Historical changes and societal variation in family patterns. Changes over the life cycle. Alternative family forms.

Class description

The family is probably the most enduring of all social institutions. While all individuals encounter the family in some form or another, what is considered family, and the functions of the family have not remained constant across time and place. Like any social institution, the family has been susceptible to economic, political, and demographic changes. This course is designed to expand students' understanding and definition of the family, while exploring how individuals' "private" family experiences are part of broader societal patterns.

Student learning goals

To incorporate multiple definitions of the family.

To develop an understanding that family composition, behavior, and function are structured through societal, demographic, and economic influences.

To develop an understanding that "private" family experiences are part of larger societal, demographic, and economic influences.

To become critical of research that investigates the family.

To use course material to become informed of policies that directly or indirectly target families.

General method of instruction

There are three ways in which information will be distributed: traditional lecture format, course readings, and discussions of materials.

The last half-hour of class will usually be left for a small group of students to lead discussion. This will be heavily based on course readings.

Recommended preparation

This course does not have any prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

Grade breakdown:

20% Working with another student or two to lead a half-hour discussion 35% Multiple Choice/Short Essay Midterm 35% Multiple Choice/Short Essay Final 10% Participation in discussions

Note: The instructor may dedicate class time for exam review and general test strategies.


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 Brian Serafini
Date: 05/19/2009