On this site I keep a running account of the connections between families and inequality. The nature of this relationship is one of the central problems of inequality in modern societies.
Is “the family” a barbaric, premodern holdover institution, perpetuating irrational relations and inherited forms of inequality? Or is it a “haven in a heartless world,” the only thing left that is not commodified — a bastion of resistance to the encroaching state and market — and one of the few places where people still have any loyalty to anyone but themselves? I think it’s both. And in either case, it’s a site of political and cultural conflict and debate.
I developed this blog as I was working on a sociology textbook titled, The Family: Diversity, Inequality and Social Change, published by W. W. Norton. (Complete information about the book is here; the second edition will be released in 2018). With the blog I get some immediate gratification to balance long-term projects, and drum up feedback from readers. Now that the book is out, the blog provides more opportunities for engagement with instructors and students using it. A new book of essays that originated here — Enduring Bonds: Inequality, Marriage, Parenting, and Everything Else That Makes Families Great and Terrible — is in press at the University of California Press, available in February 2018 (pre-order here).
I occasionally participate in conversations on these topics in the news, TV, and radio, and these moments are listed here. Some posts are published on the Sociological Images blog, where there always is a lively conversation, and other places. (A list of places that have published my essays is on the Wikipedia entry for me.)
Finally, this is also a place for me to pursue diversions and interesting conversations about sociological topics that catch my attention, including related research, academia, research methods, demographic controversies, and others. This all overlaps at times with my duties as director of the SocArXiv, open archive of the social sciences, and my work as chair of the American Sociological Association’s Family Section.
I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions on any of the posts.
Note: The children in the illustration above are from the 1880 book Gypsie Life, by George Smith, reproduced by Project Gutenberg. Then I put them on top of a DC Metro train car.