Beau Weston               Introduction to Family Life                         Crounse 447 (x8789)

Centre College             SOC 103                                 Hours: 10:30 – 12:30  (Hub)

Spring 2008                                                                                        Phone: 238-7580 (h)  



An introduction to marriage, childrearing, and family life in their microsocial and macrosocial aspects.




David Buss, The Evolution of Desire (Revised ed. 2003)

Deborah Tannen, You Just Don't Understand (1990)

Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage  (2000)

Elizabeth Marquardt, Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce (2005)

Kathryn Edin & Maria Kefalas, Promises I Can Keep:  Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage (2005)

James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem (2002)


We will be reading some articles that you can download from WebCT:


Norvall Glenn and Elizabeth Marquardt, “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right: College Women on Dating and Mating Today.”2001; 88pp


Annette Lareau, "Invisible Inequality: Social Class and Childrearing in Black Families and White Families" 2002; 31pp


W. Robert Beavers and Robert Hampson, "The Beavers Systems Model of Family Functioning." 2000; 16pp


Dan Cere, “The Future of Family Law: Law and the Marriage Crisis in North America” 2005; 51pp


We will also read two chapters from Frank Sulloway, Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives; “Birth Order and Personality" and “Family Niches.” On reserve in the library will be one copy of the book, and several copies of these chapters.


An instructional video, “Constructing the Multigenerational Family Genogram” will also be on reserve if you want models for making and reading your own genogram.


Work (and grading)


Weekly Quizzes (40%)

Each week, more or less, I will set a question through WebCT based on the readings we are about to discuss.  You will need to do the reading before you open the question, which will normally be on the main point of the reading.  You will have 20 minutes to write your reply and submit it before 10 p.m.   Write the answer as a Word document, save it, paste it into the answer space, save it again, and submit. I will drop the lowest quiz grade.  You may take additional quizzes before any class day that does not already have a quiz; these will be averaged in with (not replace) your other quizzes.


Reflection and Participation (30%)

You will type a journal entry of 300 – 600 words every day that class meets, starting with the first day of class.  The journal should include your responses to the readings and class discussion.  You should also write about how what you are learning helps you think about your own family and the role of families in society; be as specific as you can stand to be.  I will respond to each journal, and usually to each entry. These will be graded on a simple scale: 3 = unusually thorough and insightful; 2 = satisfactory to good; 1 = skimpy; 0 = not submitted.  I expect that the great majority will be 2.


I will collect the journals as noted below, roughly every two weeks.  For each two-week set of journals there will be one specified assignment, which may serve in place of your regular entry for any class day in that period.  Write your journal as one continuous Word document, with your name in the title.  Submit the journal by uploading it to WebCT.  Be sure to save your copy before submitting.  Journals are due by 10 p.m. on the day specified in the syllabus, and should include that day’s class.


Class participation helps you learn and helps others learn. 


Final Exam (30%) You will have the option of a comprehensive take-home exam or an alternative minimum exam.   The alternative exam will take a set of the main points that I give you in each class, ask you to complete them, and write one or two sentences explaining what each point means.  This is an easy test.  The catch is that maximum possible score is 75.





2/1       Marriage and family life: general and particular, microsocial and macrosocial


2/4       Mate Selection: Buss, ch. 1 - 3 (about 75 pages)

2/6       Buss, chs. 4 & 5 (50)

2/8       Buss, chs. 6 - 8 (60) [Film clip from “Brain Sex]


2/11     Buss, chs. 9 & 10 (40)

2/13     Family Communication: Tannen chs. 1 -3 (50).

2/15     Guest Couple:  Matt and Natalie Dickerson ’08 [confirmed]

Journal due 10 p.m.  One entry should be an interview with a serious unmarried couple about how they met and courted.


2/18     Tannen chs. 4 & 5 (50)

2/20     Tannen chs. 6 & 7 (55)

2/22     Class discussion [Film clip from "He Said, She Said"]


2/25     Tannen chs. 8 –10 (85)

2/27     Marriage: Waite and Gallagher, chs. 1 – 3 (50)

2/29     Guest Couple: Bob and Lisa Nesmith '91 and '95


3/3       Waite and Gallagher, chs. 4 - 6 (50)

3/5       Waite and Gallagher, chs. 7 - 9 (45)

3/7       Discussion

Journal due 10 p.m.  One entry should be an interview with a married couple about how they met and courted.  The husband and wife should be interviewed separately.  It would be appropriate to interview your parents.


3/10     Waite and Gallagher, chs. 10 - 14 (60)

3/12     Glenn and Marquardt, “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right”(88) [WebCT] Genogram instruction [including WebCT doc]

3/14     Guest Couple:  Beau and Susan Weston [c]






3/24     Birth Order Sulloway, “Birth Order and Personality” (30) [library reserve]

3/26     Sulloway, “Family Niches” (35) [library reserve]

3/28     Guest Couple:  Mary Beth and Bill Garriott ‘66


3/31     Family systems: Beavers & Hampson, "Beavers Systems Model …" [WebCT]

4/2       Class and Race Annette Lareau, "Invisible Inequality" (31) [WebCT]

4/4       Guest Speaker: Kathy Miles '71, LMFT, college counselor [c]

Journal due 10 p.m.  One entry should be your family genogram.


4/7       Divorced Families: Marquardt, Introduction, chs. 1 – 4 (75)

4/9       Marquardt, chs. 5 – 6 (60)

[4/9      Public Lecture:  Elizabeth Marquardt, author, Between Two Worlds]

4/11     Marquardt, chs. 7, 8, and Conclusion (60)

            Guest:  Elizabeth Marquardt [c]


4/14     Unmarried Mothers: Edin & Kefalas, Introduction & chs. 1 – 3 (100)

4/16     Edin & Kefalas, chs. 4 – 6 (80)

4/18     Guest speakers: TBA

Journal due 10 p.m.  One entry should be about a divorced or unmarried family; if possible, this should be based on an interview or interviews.


4/21     The Marriage Problem: Wilson, 1 & 2 (40)

4/23     Wilson, 3 & 4 (60)

4/25     Guest couple:  George and Mary Rodelius '48


4/28     Wilson, 5 – 7 (70)

4/30     Dan Cere, “The Future of Family Law”(51)

5/2       Guest speaker: Judge Bruce Petrie, Family Court


5/5       Wilson, 8 & 9 (45)

5/7       Your family and American families class discussion

Journal due 10 p.m.  One entry should connect the microsociology of families we have been studying with the macrosociological marriage problem.


5/9       FINAL EXAM Alternative exam 9 – 11; Take-home exam due 10 a.m.