Getting started with a new semester.
As I’m preparing my undergraduate Families and Society course, I’m pulling together some short readings for discussions, including posts from this blog. Here are some you might find helpful for your own teaching, organized according to the chapters of my forthcoming textbook, The Family: Diversity, Inequality and Society Change.
- Why don’t parents name their daughters Mary anymore? Sociology helps explain how things that seem intimate, like a baby’s name, reflect broader social patterns and trends. In the case of names, individuality is increasingly valued and traditional names suddenly seem boring.
- Good woman child language: Basic concepts of male and female, good and bad, are linguistically related to gender and family relationships. For example, the word for “good” in Chinese is a combination of the words for “woman” and “child,” and the word for “man” is made from “field” plus “strength.”
- Take my words for it: homogamy and heterogamy: What we call things matters. As marriage people people of the same sex becomes legal in more and more places, does it matter how we refer to different forms of marriage?
- Family diversity in the Later Stone Age: What a 5,000-year-old burial site might tell us about honoring complex families (from my Huffington Post days).
- Who’s who in the blended family, circa 1886: The fascination with family intricacy and naming relationships is nothing new.
- Marriage, since when? How you interpret social trends is affected by the starting point on your graph.
- Do Asians in the U.S. have high incomes? It turns out that depends on what you mean by “Asian,” and “high income.”
- Black is not a color. Black and White are social, not biological, classifications. So why do we treat the words as if they were just colors?
- Marriage and divorce disparities. Race/ethnicity and social class differences in marriage and divorce rates are large and growing.
- Sociology wedding sleuth. The New York Times wedding announcements presents a case study in elite family marriage pairings. Ah, the mysteries of love.
- Poverty, single mothers and mobility. Family poverty matters more than family structure for children’s well-being later in life.
- Three things about poverty and family structure. Trends in poverty, and the observation that only 1/3 of the poor population lives in households headed by single women.
- 12 minutes in segregationland. How much gender division of labor can you spot in 12 minutes at the train station? A statistical photo essay.
- Tangled up in Disney’s dimorphism. What does it mean when they exaggerate the differences between men’s and women’s bodies?
- What if women were in charge? When women get management jobs, some things change. But it hasn’t been enough to complete the push toward gender equality.
- Whose right to sex education? We defer parenting to parents at the cost of equality for their children. Example: letting parents keep their kids out of sex education class.
- Abstinence, Antichrist and teen births. Abstinence education not only doesn’t work, it might lead to more teen births.
- (Gu)Estimating the size of the LGBT population. How do we know, and what do we know? The latest from large surveys.
Love and romantic relationships
- Is dating still dead? Recording the many obituaries written for dating, back to the 1960s. (Goes with this recent New York Times story on the “end of courtship.”
- Online dating: efficiency, inequality and anxiety. How will the rise of online dating affect who ends up with whom?
Cohabitation and marriage
- Your family, immediately. Who says cohabiting couples aren’t families? (Or, are you asking for trouble at the border?)
- DOMA can’t survive rationality. Why the Defense of Marriage Act, now going before the Supreme Court, is not rational. And as for popular votes on the issue of same-sex marriage, the 2012 elections may have been a tipping point: Have we passed the homogamy tipping point?
- Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood: Time for some results. The Federal government spent hundreds of millions of dollars from the welfare budget trying to promote marriage. It didn’t work.
Families and children
- Poverty Poses a Bigger Risk to Pregnancy Than Age. Lots of people are worried about older parents having children. For health risks, though, poverty is a much more pressing problem.
- Play, supervision and pressured parenting. Pressure to be good parents, the obesity epidemic, super-safe new playground equipment: My how things have changed for children’s outdoor play.
- Crying out for more babies. The religious right is confused, and concerned, about falling fertility rates around the world.
Divorce and remarriage
- And the 2011 divorce rate is… And how it fits in with the long-term trend, and the recession.
- Distorting data on divorce at the National Marriage Project. Tall tales about divorce, paid for by private right-wing foundations.
- Cohabitation, engaged and not. There has been a long debate about whether cohabiting before marriage affects the likelihood of divorce. New research suggests: it depends on how committed people were when they moved in together.
Work and families
- When there’s housework to do… Is “Life to short to clean your own home”? Gender, social class, and the meaning of housecleaning.
- Flattering motherhood, still. During the 2012 campaign, there was a big flap over whether motherhood is “a job.” In the end everyone agreed it’s super important – as long as it’s done for free.
- Getting the story straight on working mothers and children’s risks. An overblown story about health risks from mothers’ employment creates an opportunity to learn how to interpret social science research (and the news that hypes it).
Violence and abuse
- Has the recession increased family violence? Now it doesn’t look like there has been an increase in family violence. Economic hardship could still cause violence, but it’s not the only factor.
- Are women becoming the violenter sex? Answer: no (even though they work more and have more money and power than in the old days).
- Stop the “End of Rape” story. Sexual assault rates have fallen in the U.S. But not that much.
Wow, looking back at all these posts, I feel as if I better have written a book by now. Just one more chapter to go! Your feedback is always welcome, whether you are a teacher using these posts in class or just reading.