The increase of choice and plurality of family forms have led to increased attention to what is often perceived as the de-mystification of marriage and the overall “breakdown” of family life. Many speak of the “crisis” or “death” of the family and consider various “anti-family” mores as undermining the family institution. However, to a large extent, the ideal of the family and familism, still dominates public imagery and daily life.
This course will focus on recent theoretical developments in studies of family life. It will introduce and analyze some of the key themes, preoccupations and debates that have characterized the study of family, intimacy in Western feminist sociological thought. The tone of the course will be analytical. It will critically scrutinize contemporary conceptions of the family, domesticity, intimacy, individuality and sociability as socially constructed social categories. Questions explored in this class will include “new families”, family and consumerism, the ideal family structure, gender categorization in our intimate relationship, adoption, surrogacy, care relations and global women trafficking. Subsequent topics of inquiry will include the changing notions of family based societies, happiness, well-being, femininity, masculinity and ideals and models of normativity, gender relations, social order and their attendant paradoxes