American Families: Historical and Sociological Perspectives


Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by

history, women's studies, family studies

This program explores changes in the social construction and cultural expectations of family life and intimate relations, from colonial times to the present. We begin by delving into the very different values and behaviors of colonial families and then trace changes in love, marriage, parenting, and family arrangements under the influence of the American Revolution and the spread of wage labor. We study the gender and sexual norms of the 19th century, including variation by race and class, then examine the changes pioneered in the early 20th century. We discuss the rise of the 1950s male breadwinner family and then follow its demise from the 1960s through the 1980s. We end the quarter by discussing new patterns of partnering and parenting in the past 30 years,

Readings will be challenging, and there will be frequent writing assignments. All students are expected to complete all assignments and participate in workshops and seminar discussions. Credit depends upon consistent attendance and preparation and a demonstrated mastery of the subject matter.

This class is excellent preparation for graduate work or professional employment in history, sociology, law, American studies, social work, and psychology. It provides needed context and background for people working in the social services or education.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

sociology, history, family studies, research, social work, teaching, family law and counseling.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Weekend

Advertised schedule: 9a-5p Sat


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.


Date Revision
January 8th, 2013 This program is now structured as a half-time (8-credit) weekend program. The description changed in January 2013.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

(8 credits): 30072

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