Contemporary Families in the US

Course Number: HEC 202
Transcript Title: Contemporary Families in US
Created: September 23, 2019
Updated: October 3, 2019
Total Credits: 3
Lecture Hours: 30
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: No
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0

Prerequisite / Concurrent

Course Description

Introduces the meaning and role of “family” in the United States through the study of historic, contemporary and personal applications. Explores how diversity (age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, social class, sexual orientation) is relevant in family structure and processes. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Critically assess how individual characteristics and contextual factors interact, contributing over time to the development of society’s concept of family.
  2. Recognize the impact of historical and environmental influences on individual and familial experiences over time, with a focus on the social environment.
  3. Recognize and communicate how individual diversity (age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, social class, sexual orientation, etc.) relates to family structure and processes.
  4. Apply critical thinking and problem solving to identify and evaluate current challenges in family dynamics in order to propose applicable solutions.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Quizzes
  • Journals
  • Presentations
  • Essay
  • Portfolio
  • Final exam

Texts and Materials

Suggested texts:

  • Ferguson, S. J. (2019). Shifting the center:understanding contemporary families (Fifth edition.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
  • Cohen, Philip N. (2018). The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change (Second edition.).  W. W. Norton & Company, New York & London

Relevant websites:

Course Activities and Design

The determination of teaching strategies used in the delivery of outcomes is generally left to the discretion of the instructor. Here are some strategies that you might consider when designing your course: lecture, small group/forum discussion, flipped classroom, dyads, oral presentation, role play, simulation scenarios, group projects, service learning projects, hands-on lab, peer review/workshops, cooperative learning (jigsaw, fishbowl), inquiry based instruction, differentiated instruction (learning centers), graphic organizers, etc.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Outcome #1:

Critically assess how individual characteristics and contextual factors interact, contributing over time to the development of society’s concept of family.

  • Familiarize students with current and evolving terms and theories:
    • Social Construction
    • Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989)
    • Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
  • Describe families and children as they apply to traditional families vs. non-traditional families.
  • Develop students’ awareness of race and ethnicity.
  • Explore and understand gender identity, gender socialization, and how social institutions influence our sexual norms and values.
  • Explore and describe the causes of poverty in the US and some of the policies in place to help families
  • Explore through readings, videos and class discussions the Theories of Social Class:
    • Generations of wealth and privilege vs. generations of working poverty
    • Low income families and resilience
    • Urban poverty
    • division of labor
    • social capital
    • exploitation 
    • Division of power
    • social mobility
  • Analyze ways in which the interactions of social categories, such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and age, are related to difference, power, and discrimination in the United States. 
  • Immigration (and the formation and structure of the family)
  • Marriage, cohabitation, single parents
  • Divorce and poverty, single-parent homes, blended families
  • Family violence-risk factors (poverty, cultural, religious)
  • Transnational & Immigration
  • Analyze how “family” has varying contemporary and historical conceptualizations.
  • Explore traditional and current ideals with gender at work & gender and pay 

Outcome #2:

Recognize the impact of historical and environmental influences on individual and familial experiences over time, with a focus on the social environment.

  • Develop an understanding for the family in Sociological Theory:
    • consensus perspective & conflict perspective
  • Explore and describe contemporary theories:
    • Feminist theory
    • Socialization
    • Exchange Theory
    • Symbolic Interactionism
    • Modernity Theory
    • Demographic Perspective
    • Life Course Perspective
  • Discuss and analyze intersectionality:
    • Ted Talk by Kimbarlee Crenshaw on Intersectionality
  • Explore the Connected systems and structures of power (i.e. laws, policies, media)
  • Analyze families and their well being, as these relate to:
    • Causes of Poverty
    • Economic Well Being, Policies:  SNAP, TANF, EITC, Medicaid & Medicare
    • Temporary Assistance: TANF
  • Explore the development of gender socialization over time in society & Interactive Circles of Socialization
  • Evaluate the history and application of Miscegenation laws in the US and the tradition and current practice of edogomy (religious and ethnic).
  • Develop an understanding of the development of families:
    • Colonial America (before 1820)
    • The Emerging Modern Family (1820-1900)
    • The Modern Family (1900-1960)
    • New Family Diversity (1960-Present)
  • Discuss the difference and similarities between marriage today and the early 1900s, the decline of marriage, and the age of marriage
  • Explore new family configurations:  grandparents raising grandchildren
  • Discuss and identify the changes in divorce:
    • Church and State:  marital dissolution, separation, divorce, annulment of marriage
    • attitudes of divorce
  • Discuss and identify the different types of violence within the family &/or relationships and methods of intervention:
    • Family violence: physical & emotional
    • Sexual violence: rape, sexual assault, incest
    • Civil protection orders
    • Court-ordered treatment
    • Domestic violence courts
    • Services for domestic violence victims
  • Familiarize students with the different kinds of abuse, neglect & risk factors:
  • Explore the concepts of work and how they apply to the family:
    • Carework
    • Housework
    • market work
    • system of care
    • paid work
    • occupational gender segregation
    • gender division of labor
    • work-family conflict. 
  • Analyze Explicit and Implicit Family Policy
  • Describe how the role of government in family policy has changed over time.

Outcome #3:

Recognize and communicate how individual diversity (age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, social class, sexual orientation) relates to family structure and processes.

  • Explore the theory of Social Diversity and how it can contribute to a society.
  • Marriage: Marriage market, education, religion; cohabitation; Same-sex marriage
  • Divorce:  remarriage & blended families, step siblings and step parents
  • Analyze diverse parenting styles within our society:
    • Helicopter parenting, outsourcing, attachment
    • Different approaches by gender and social class
    • LGBTQ parenting
    • grandparents raising grandchildren.
    • Video: The Mother ‘Hood (commercial) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUbGHeZCxe4
  • Explore the history and current impacts of immigration and transnational families in the US, mothering from afar, effects on spousal relationships, economic results

Outcome #4:

Apply critical thinking and problem solving to identify and evaluate current challenges in family dynamics in order to propose applicable solutions. 

  • Discuss consensus perspective and its application to families and society
  • Familiarize students with current and evolving terms and theories:
    • Social Construction
    • Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989)
    • Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
  • Describe families and children as they apply to traditional families vs. non-traditional families.
  • Analyze families and their wellbeing, as these relate to:
    • Causes of Poverty
    • Economic Well Being, Policies:  SNAP, TANF, EITC, Medicaid & Medicare
    • Temporary Assistance: TANF
  • Develop an understanding of the development of families:
    • Colonial America (before 1820)
    • The Emerging Modern Family (1820-1900)
    • The Modern Family (1900-1960)
    • New Family Diversity (1960-Present)
  • Explore new family configurations:  grandparents raising grandchildren
  • Explore the history and current impacts of immigration and transnational families in the US, mothering from afar, effects on spousal relationships, economic results 

Department Notes

The portfolio should be supported throughout all ED and HEC courses as a required assessment strategy for the ED Pathway and ECEFS. Since we are requiring a portfolio for all students in these programs, all ED and ECEFS faculty should be aware of the potential for students to incorporate materials from the course.

As per Oregon State University’s Bacc Core Requirements, the following material needs to be covered in the teaching of this course. While content related to these outcomes has been integrated within the content of the course, you should be aware that these outcomes need to be addressed (for transferability, CGCC needs to fulfill these outcomes for our articulation agreement with OSU).

Student Learning Outcomes (SPI)

Upon completion of HEC 202, students will be able to:

  1. Critique the nature, value, and limitations of the basic methods of the social sciences.
    • Describe how the nature, value and limitations of the basic methods of the social sciences have contributed to scholarship and research on families
  2. Use theoretical frameworks to interpret the role of the individual within social process and institutions. 
  3. Analyze current social issues and place them in historical context(s). 

Student Learning Outcomes (DPD)

Upon completion of HEC 202, students will be able to:

  1. Explain how difference is socially constructed. 
  2. Using historical and contemporary examples, describe how perceived differences, combined with unequal distribution of power across economic, social, and political institutions, result in discrimination. 
  3. Analyze ways in which the interactions of social categories, such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and age, are related to difference, power, and discrimination in the United States.