Sociology of the Family

Course Providers:  Michael Grätz,  Dr Man Yee Kan


The course will introduce students to theories and research on the family in industrialised and post-industrialised societies.


We begin by considering the trends in marriage, fertility, and divorce, and the decline of the traditional male breadwinner model families in many industrialised societies. We also discuss welfare state policies which shape the trends in marriage and fertility, women’s labour market participation, and the domestic division of labour. We then discuss a number of important topics in family sociology: partner selection, relationships between family members, and implications of family forms for social inequality.

On successfully completing the course, students should:
• have acquired knowledge of important theoretical ideas in the field;
• understand the major trends in marriage and the family;
• be familiar with recent empirical research in family studies;
• be prepared to undertake doctoral research in the area of family sociology.

Eight seminars in Hilary Term. Each student is expected to write four essays (1500-2000 words), prepare short presentations and participate actively in the seminars.

One three-hour unseen examination in Trinity Term.

• Bergstrom, T.C. (1997) A survey of theories of the family. In: Rosenzweig, M.R. & O. Stark (Eds). Handbook of Population and Family Economics. Elsevier Science.
• Cherlin, A. (2009) The marriage-go-round. Alfred Knopf.
• Esping-Andersen, G. (2009) The Incomplete revolution: Adapting welfare states to women's new roles.
• Lesthaeghe, R. (2010) The unfolding story of the second demographic transition. Population and Development Review 36: 211–51.
• McLanahan, S. (2004). Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition. Demography 41: 607–27.
• Raymo, J. M., Park, H., Xie, Y., & Yeung, W. J. J. (2015) Marriage and family in East Asia: Continuity and change. Annual Review of Sociology 41: 471-492.
• Thomson, E. (2014) Family complexity in Europe. The Aannals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 654:245-58.