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Sociology- SO 100/SO 235 (FG 235): Thinking Sociologically / Sociology of Family

Blocks 1 and 2: Gail Murphy-Geiss

The second block of this course meets one unit of Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement.

The course will look at family structures and relationships over time and across cultures with continued focus on the wider social contexts that affect families, especially industrialization, feminism, race, class, sexual orientation, and technology. What is family? How have our definitions changed? What social factors influence those changes? What are the current issues related to family, and what lies ahead? Is the family in decline or undergoing social change?

The first block will explore sociological thinking in general, including basic theory and methods and will include an introduction to the terminology and themes in the field. The goal will be to provide the tools and set the context for deeper sociological analysis.

The second block will focus specifically on the sociology of families, especially the cutting edge issues of our time such as same-sex marriage, surrogate motherhood/sperm & egg donation, and international adoption. We will also give significant attention to domestic violence.

Assignments will include classic and contemporary readings, debates over controversial issues, as well as data collection in local family courts.

A set of linked one-block courses with a single instructor that must be taken together; separate grades will be given for each block.


  • This course serves as a gateway to the Sociology major.
  • Block 1 fulfills major prerequisites for Sociology as one of five required electives for the major and prerequisite for all subsequent courses in the major)
  • Block 2 fulfills major prerequisites for Sociology as one of five required electives for the major and for Feminist and Gender Studies as one of five required electives for the major or minor.
  • This course carries a Community Based Learning (CBL) tag. Block 2 includes a community based research project around the county court visits.
  • The only afternoon commitments will be a library orientation session in Block 1 and one or two courtroom observations in Block 2.
  • There will be field trips for courtroom observations made over three days in Block 2.