COOL CLASSES: “‘Sociology of Family: Pop Culture, Law, and Public Policy”

This sociology course explores the family as a social institution shaped as much by historical, social, and political conditions as it is by our individual experiences.

Course title: “Sociology of Family: Pop Culture, Law, and Public Policy”

Taught By: Visiting Professor of Sociology M.H. Kohlman

Says Kohlman:

We all come from families, and the family is therefore thought to be a well-known social institution. But family is constituted not just by our individual experiences, but also as a product of historical, social, and political conditions. This course examines how these conditions have shaped family life as we currently experience it.

We look at the social construction of the family, the psychosocial interiors of families, and how governmental policy has consistently shaped our notions of family. Additionally, we discuss the increasing diversity of family structures, the institution of marriage, and the social construction of childhood and parenting.

I wanted to teach a class that permitted students to readily understand the development of law and public policy in regards to sexuality, courtship, marriage, and the maintenance of family.  I also want them to be able to recognize and explain to others the elements of popular culture that influence everyday expectations of family formation.

This course is unique in its specific focus upon gender as an institutional framework that has shaped the family politics in Western countries since the Age of Enlightenment. This course is also unique in that we examine the family from an intersectional vantage point, that is, that this social institution is consistently shaped by the simultaneous operation of multiple systems of power.

Learn more about other courses offered by the Department of Sociology.

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