Family Problems and Social Change
Florida State University
023 Bellamy, Tu/Th 11am-12:15
Instructor: Emily M. Boyd, M.S.
Office Hours: Tues and Thurs 12:15pm to 1:30 or by appointment
Office Phone: 644-0353 (direct line) 644-6416 (messages)
Email: email@example.com (best way to contact me)
Course website: http://campus.fsu.edu/ (no “www”)
Overview of the Course. This course seeks to explain historical family forms, why and
how families have adapted throughout history, and current trends in family life today. It
aims to increase student’s understanding of their own families and the social institutions
that surround and shape family lives. Accordingly, we will review four broad historical
“stages” of family life and examine the social, economic, and political events which
enabled family forms to change over time. The course will also examine current trends in
the family, discussing what can be altered by individual and collective action and what is
unlikely to change, barring dramatic upheavals in the rest of society.
Course Requirements. This course requires you to read, analyze, & observe the world
around you, attend class, participate in class discussions, complete in class quizzes and/or
writing assignments, take two exams, and write a final paper. Most class sessions will
consist of lectures by the instructor, talks by guest speakers, presentations of other types
(e.g., videos), or group activities and discussions. You are expected to have an FSU
email address and be able to access the course website—any announcements or
communications that are necessary outside of class will be delivered through these
devices. (You can forward your FSU email to hotmail, AOL, etc., but you MUST have
and monitor an FSU email account.) To do well in the course you must attend class, keep
up with the readings, be present for and complete in class activities, study for the exams,
and complete the final paper.
Required Textbook: Skolnick, Arlene S. and Jerome H. Skolnick. Family in
Transition: Thirteenth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN: 0205418236
*Please check your textbooks carefully to ensure you have purchased the 13th edition as
other editions may contain different material.
In addition to the textbook, there will be required readings posted to the class blackboard
website underneath the heading “reserve readings”—please check out this portion of our
web page and become familiar with it immediately! Technology problems are NOT
acceptable excuses for not having read. I reserve the right to add additional readings or
use other readings than the ones listed here.
(FIT refers to the Family in Transition text, BB refers to the blackboard website).
1. BB: Coontz, Stephanie. 1996. “Where are the Good Old Days?” Modern Maturity
2. FIT: Mintz, Steven. “Beyond Sentimentality: American Childhood as Social and
Cultural Construct”. Families in Transition, ed Skolnick and Skolnick. 299-311.
3. FIT: Casper, Lynne M and Suzanne M. Bianchi. “Cohabitation”. Families in
Transition, ed Skolnick and Skolnick. 180-189.
4. FIT: Hackstaff, Karla B. “Divorce Culture: A Quest for Relational Equality in
Marriage”. Families in Transition, ed Skolnick and Skolnick. 197-208.
5. FIT: Bailey, Beth. “Sexual Revolution(s)”. Families in Transition, ed Skolnick and
6. BB: Stacey, Judith. 1998. “Gay and Lesbian Families are Here” from All our
Families: New Policies for a New Century, edited by Mary Ann Mason, et al:
7. FIT: Coontz, Stephanie. “What we Really Miss About the 1950s”. Families in
Transition, ed Skolnick and Skolnick. 40-48.
8. BB: Hochschild, Arlie. 1989. “Joey’s Problem: Evan and Nancy Holt” from The
Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home: 244-257.
9. FIT: Cherlin, Andrew J. “Should the Government Promote Marriage?” Families in
Transition, ed Skolnick and Skolnick. 85-92.
10. BB: Straus, Murray. 2001. “Ten Myths that Perpetuate Corporal Punishment” from
Beating the Devil out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and
Its Effects on Children. Transaction Publishers.
11. BB: Ritzer, George. 2004. “An Introduction to McDonaldization” in The
McDonaldization of Society, Revised New Century Edition, Pine Forge Press:
12. BB: Inniss, Leslie and Joe R. Feagin. 1995. “The Cosby Show: The View From
the Black Middle Class”. Journal of Black Studies, 25/6: 692-711.
Participation/In-Class Activities: Periodically throughout the semester we will do short
in class writings on the topic at hand, group work, or short “quizzes” on the material
covered in previous readings or lecture. These in-class activities will not be announced,
so good attendance is essential for maintaining your participation grade. By definition,
students can only participate when they are present, so participation activities cannot be
made up (but see me if you have a lengthy illness or emergency that keeps you from class
for more than a week at a time). The sum of a students participation grades throughout
the semester will comprise 10% of their final grade.
Exams: You will be required to take 2 exams for this course, which will be given during
class on the dates specified. Exams can consist of multiple choice, true/false, matching,
short answer and/or short essay questions. You can expect material covered in lectures,
reserve readings, and class discussions to be covered on the exams. Prior to each exam, I
will provide students with a review sheet where I will give details of the test, followed by
a review session where you may ask any questions you have about the material. Exams
will comprise 60% of your final grade, so that each exam is worth 30%.
Final Paper: Students must complete a final course paper, due on the last day of class
(Thursday, 12/7/06). NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED. This paper will
comprise 30% of the student’s final grade. Students have two options to choose from:
Final paper option 1: This 5 to 7 page paper compares what you know about family
change in society to family change in your own family. You will conduct two (2)
interviews with people of different generations in your own family (or a friend’s family)
and link what you learn in the interviews with class material. The interviews should be
conducted face-to-face, so if you pick this option, it means that you plan to see older
family members (parents and/or grandparents) at some point this semester (see me if
visiting family is out of the question). See the course website (under “course paper”) for
details of exactly what I am looking for in this paper and how I determine paper grades.
Final Paper option 2: This 5 to 7 page research paper allows you to explore an issue
related to current or historical families in depth. For example, you could research
women’s transition into the workforce in the 1960s and 1970s—what were the effects on
the economy, family issues like childcare, and personal satisfaction? Perhaps you’re
more interested in today’s family issues—how does the current trend of violence in
schools (perpetrated mostly by adolescent boys) impact the family and/or how does the
changing family (mothers working, more impersonal childcare) impact school violence?
You can pick a topic that we’ve covered in class and take a more in-depth approach, or
choose a subject that we didn’t get a chance to go over in class—but in either case, see
me for approval of your topic BEFORE you begin your research (you want to make sure
you’re on the right track and I may be able to suggest some sources to begin your search).
See the course website for more details on the number of sources required, formatting,
and other requirements for the paper.
Exams—2 each worth 30%
In Class Quizzes/Assignments
FINAL LETTER GRADES will be based on the standard plus/minus system:
100-94 = A
89-87 = B+
79-77 = C+
69-67 = D+
93-90 = A-
86-83 = B
76-73 = C
66-63 = D <59 = F
82-80 = B-
72-70 = C-
62-60 = D-
Make ups, Missed Work, Late Work
Only students who can provide documentation for excused absences (family or health
emergencies) will be allowed to make-up exams. If you find yourself unable to take an
exam on the scheduled date, you must contact me BEFORE the scheduled exam time
and discuss your situation with me to gain permission to take a makeup exam (see my
email address and phone number on first page). In class quizzes/assignments CANNOT
be made up; therefore, it is essential that you maintain good attendance in order to be
present for these activities when they arise (If you have an extenuating circumstance,
such as an ongoing health issue which prevents you from attending class, please see me
IMMEDIATLEY). Final papers CANNOT be turned in late or electronically; therefore,
they must be turned in on time (on the last day of class, 12/7/06) or handed in early.
Missing work or uncompleted assignments are insufficient reasons for a grade of
Incomplete. An Incomplete (I) grade will not be given except under extenuating
circumstances at the instructor’s discretion. Note that College of Social Science
guidelines require that students seeking an “I” must be currently passing the course.
Conduct and Behavior
Classroom courtesy is necessary to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn
without distractions. This means no cell phones, talking during lectures (unless
recognized by the professor or discussion leader), reading newspapers, etc. during class.
If you must have a cell phone to receive emergency calls about kids or other family
members, keep it on vibrate. Entering and leaving is distracting to your instructor and
other students. Therefore, you need to be on time for class and stay until the end. If you
must enter late or leave early, please inform me before class begins and take the seat
nearest an exit and enter or leave as quietly as possible. Repeated disruption of class may
lead to penalties that reduce your final grade (see below). Class discussions of the issues
we study can stimulate strong feelings and heated debate. Because this is a college
classroom, all discussions must be scholarly.
(1) Scholarly comments are:
Respectful of diverse opinions and open to follow up questions and/or disagreement;
related to the class and course material; advance the discussion about issues related to the
course and/or course material rather than personal beliefs; are delivered in normal tones
and a non-aggressive manner.
(2) Unacceptable behaviors in the classroom are:
(a) Personal attacks. This includes attacks on a person’s appearance, demeanor, or
political beliefs. (b) Interrupting your instructor or other students. Raise your hand and
wait to be called on by the discussion leader or myself to prevent this problem. (c) Using
the discussion to argue for political positions and/or beliefs. If political discussions arise,
they must be discussed as scholarly endeavors (see above). (d) Using raised tones,
yelling, engaging in arguments with other students, and being physically aggressive. (e)
Ignoring your instructor’s authority to protect the integrity of the classroom. Anyone who
violates these guidelines will be asked to cease and desist and may be asked to leave the
classroom and/or drop the course. Failure to abide by these principles can result in
academic penalties ranging from a lowered grade, to dismissal, to failing the course.
Florida State University Academic Honor Code
Students must abide by the Academic Honor Policy of the Florida State University,
including the statement on Values and Moral Standards published in The Florida State
University General Bulletin. The Academic Honor Policy outlines the University's
expectations for students' academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations
of these expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty
throughout the process. Please see the following website for a complete explanation of
the Academic Honor Policy:
Students must abide by the highest standards of academic integrity. Any form of
academic dishonesty will result in a "zero" for that particular assignment or an "F" for the
course, at the instructor’s discretion. Any student who plagiarizes, cheats on exams, or
otherwise behaves in a dishonest way may be reported to the university administration for
further disciplinary action as specified in the Academic Honor Policy
The Provost and legal counsel of Florida State University warn us that any uses of others'
copyrighted materials without proper acknowledgement is unlawful and may lead to
criminal prosecution. To this end, please be scrupulous in using the work of others by
giving full and appropriate credit to the sources and materials that you use. Please use
care when taking words and phrases from others. If you use a string of three or more
exact words from another source, you must place the words in quotes and cite the
author, year and page number. Be a stickler about citing; cite more rather than less;
cite early rather than late. Do NOT appropriate the concepts, phrases, or ideas of other
people without giving them credit. If you do so, you risk losing your good name and
getting into legal trouble. If you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, or
need more information on how to correctly site sources, see me BEFORE turning in your
Persons with Disabilities
Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should: (1) register with and
provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; (2) bring a letter to the
instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type. This should be done
during the first week of class. For more information about services available to FSU
students with disabilities, contact:
Student Disability Resource Center, 108 Student Services Bldg., FSU
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167, (850)644-9566 (voice), (850)644-8504 (TDD)
Syllabus Change Policy
This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advanced notice.
Schedule of Events*
(Read before coming to class; for example, read Coontz before class on Wednesday 9/5)
Tuesday, August 29—Attendance/syllabus
Thursday, August 31—Historical Families
Tuesday, September 5—Patriarchal Families
Reading 1: BB: Coontz “Where are the good old days?”
Thursday, September 7—Historical Marriage
Tuesday, September 12—Courtship
Thursday, September 14— Historical Childhood
Reading 2: FIT: Reading 25: Mintz “Beyond Sentimentality” p 299
Tuesday, September 19— Changes from Patriarchal to Nuclear
Thursday, September 21— Contemporary Marriage
Reading 3: FIT: Reading 16: Casper and Bianchi “Cohabitation” p180
Tuesday, September 26— Contemporary Childhood
Thursday, September 28— Divorce
Reading 4: FIT: Reading 18: Hackstaff “Divorce Culture” p197
Tuesday, October 3—Sexuality
Reading 5: FIT: Reading 12: Bailey “Sexual Revolution(s)” p136
Thursday, October 5— Gay Marriage
Reading 6: BB: Stacey, J. “Gay and Lesbian Families are Here”
Tuesday, October 10—Midterm Review
Thursday, October 12—MIDTERM EXAM
Tuesday, October 17—1950’s Nuclear Family
Reading 7: FIT: Reading 4: Coontz “What we miss…1950’s” p40
Thursday, October 19—Work and Families
Reading 8: BB: Hochschild, A. “Joey’s Problem: Evan and Nancy Holt”
Tuesday, October 24— Economics/Welfare
Reading 9: FIT: Reading 7: Cherlin “Should the Gov’t Promote Marriage” p85
Thursday, October 26— Reproduction
Tuesday, October 31— Domestic Violence
Reading 10: BB: Straus “Ten Myths that Perpetuate Corporal Punishment”
Thursday, November 2— Video: Tough Guise
Tuesday, November 7— McDonaldization of the Family/Consumption
Reading 11: BB: Ritzer, G. “An Introduction to McDonaldization”
Thursday, November 9—Video: Super Size Me
Tuesday, November 14— Alternative Families
Thursday, November 16— Families on Television
Reading 12: BB: Inniss and Feagin. “The Cosby Show”
Tuesday, November 21 and Thurs Nov 23—NO CLASS Happy Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 28— Race/Ethnic Family Forms
Thursday, November 30— Aging and the Family
Tuesday, December 5—NO CLASS—finish course paper
Thursday, December 7—Exam review/FINAL PAPER DUE
Final Exam: Friday, December 15 2006 from 3-5pm in regular classroom
*This schedule is tentative, every effort will be made to keep it, but should changes become
necessary students will be given ample notice