Sociology of the Family

Discipline: Sociology
Instructor: Scott
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1300
End: 1415
Field Class: Day 1 - Thursday, 2 April | Namibia Download Syllabus

This course provides an overview of marriage and family from a sociological perspective. The root idea being that all societies create a mechanisms for reproduction of the species, systems to care for off-spring with moral and legal rationales underpinnings, and roles and responsibilities for the care of the related individuals. The central goal of this course is to introduce you to the diverse, contentious, and alternative literature and research about marriage and family as social institutions. Since all societies systems of marriage and family are diverse, we will examine which concepts, theories and methods help us understand what are the origins and definitions of family and marriage, diversity in mate selection, family formation, and gender identities. Through intensive readings, discussing, and writing, we will explore how family relationships are terminated, re-created and blended through the roles and responsibilities of parenting and the social construction of motherhood and fatherhoods, and the impact of larger societal issues such as wealth, poverty, inequality, education, and public policy. Finally, we will discover how these issues influence the lives of those in families using the places on the Semester at Sea itinerary as case studies.

Field Class

Country: Namibia
Day: 1 - Thursday, 2 April

Marriage and Family relationships in one of the newest countries in Southern Africa-Namibia is an achievement of the early 21st century but remains an on-going political challenge.  New statehood, under the leadership of SWAPO’s National Liberation Struggle for political independence against Apartheid South Africa (the Dutch and British,) is a conundrum for liberation against colonialism but not liberation from the oppression and exploitation of women by the Traditional Namibian culture. This Field Lab trip is a visit to two of the community centers where this emotional repair work happens for women: the Women’s Leadership Center and Namibia Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Services Center.  In both cases, these Namibian Women’s NGOs lead the struggles against “forced marriages” that are waged by the traditional and cultural forces of everyday life and interpersonal interactions. This is a second tier of struggle for SWAPO - empowering women outside the home but also empowering women inside the home.  The election of first black and female Mayor of Walvis Bay, Theresia Samaria, was a SWAPO success. The next question is, will SWAPO align itself with the initiative and leadership of these Namibian Women’s NGOs who understand that forced marriage is not only a human right issue but also a governance lapse that reinforces male privilege in the family, property control in the hands of men, and differential family educational resources utilization which individually and collectively perpetuate male dominance. Academic Objectives:

  1. To witness women’s organizational inventions for empowerment and hear their voices of resistance.
  2. To see the contradictions of political expediency of national liberation at the expense of women rights and traditional marriage practices.
  3. To examine the intersections between marriage, family lives, national identity, and gender struggles for change in Namibia