SOC-20041 - Families and Households: Diversity and Change
Coordinator: Emma L Head Room: CBC0.012 Tel: +44 1782 7 33898
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2022/23


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2022/23

This module aims to provide students with a solid understanding of key issues in the sociology of family life. It will be particularly concerned with the ways in which people's experiences of families have been changing since the 1970s. We will also look at how sociological approaches to family and personal life have changed over time. The module explores the increased diversity in family and household construction, in particular with regard to sexual and domestic partnerships. We will look at demographic changes in family and household organization and the implications these have for `commitment┐ in personal relationships is understood.
We will consider the possibility that personal relationships have become 'democratisatised' and discuss the extent to which new forms of partnership have altered the traditional gendered inequalities that were structural to marriage and parenthood. We will explore the diverse forms of family that different people now construct. This will entail examining patterns of divorce, the circumstances of lone-parent families, the impact of using reproductive technologies on family life, the experiences of parenting for same-sex couples, and consider the particular issues stepfamilies face. Finally, we will focus on broader aspects of kinship and personal life including grandparenting, transnational families, and friendship.
Throughout the module we will develop an appreciation of how family relationships are constructed in the context of wider changes in social and economic conditions that constrain and shape the apparently individual and private decisions that people make.

To enable students to:
understand key theories and concepts in family sociology;
understand how and why the organization of family life has been altering over the last 30 years;
understand the relationship between the organization of family relationships and wider social change

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

summarize how family relationships have been altering over the last 30 years and relate these changes to wider shifts in social and economic structure will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2, 3
review explanations of the diversity there is in contemporary family and household patterns will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2, 3
summarize the different theoretical approaches that have been used within sociology to explain change in family and household organization will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2, 3
analyze the place of non-household kinship in the organization of contemporary family life, including especially the significance of intergenerational ties
will be achieved by assessments: 1,2, 3
review how family experiences alter across the life course will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2, 3
analyze the complexity of family transitions (eg partnership formation; separation and divorce; widowhood) and link the experience of these transitions to the biographical and social circumstances of those involved. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2, 3

Study hours

24 hours contact (12 at 2 hours)
60 hours seminar preparation
66 hours assessment preparation

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 40%
A 2000 word essay
Students will select one essay from a list of five titles covering key aspects of family sociology.

2: Exam weighted 60%
2 hour examination
Students will answer 2 from a set of 8 questions on topics covered in the module.