The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change

3e cover

The second edition of my book, The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change, is out now. The third edition has hundreds of new references, all the data updated, lots of new content on sex and gender, new Trends to Watch, and revised workshops in every chapter. Details about the book — contents, features, and supporting materials — including how to order exam copies, and how to contact a Norton representative, are available here (and there is a free sample chapter from the second edition, too). If you are an instructor who is using or considering the book I invite you to join this Facebook group for a teaching discussion.

From the publisher’s description:

Learn the story—and the sociology—behind the data about today’s families. Philip Cohen’s The Family is an accessible, data-driven introduction to contemporary sociological thinking on families. Drawing on his expertise as a sociologist, demographer, and a teacher, Cohen uses data to elucidate key trends in family life and to show how the story of today’s families is a story of diversity, inequality, and social change. In the Third Edition, Cohen has strengthened the book’s coverage of same-sex relationships and revamped the treatment of gender identity, highlighting the most current research and data throughout the text. Innovative pedagogy, including a revised InQuizitive course and more robust in-text workshops, get students thinking sociologically about their own families and relationships.

From the review of the first edition, by Shannon Davis in Teaching Sociology:

Well organized, The Family builds on theories of modernity to address the three core concepts that Cohen argues underlie understanding contemporary families: diversity, inequality, and social change. The scholarship upon which the text is built is robust, but the text itself is clearly written and should be accessible for the target audience of undergraduates. The conversational nature of the text makes it feel like you are sitting next to Cohen and he is talking you through the major issues around the intersection of paid work and family life, for example, drawing upon his deep knowledge of the topic and engaging the most recent research available to help make sense of complicated issues.

Enduring Bonds: Inequality, Marriage, Parenting, and Everything Else That Makes Families Great and Terrible


Published by the University of California Press (order from UCPress or Amazon), it’s a collection of essays that originated on this blog, all substantially revised and updated. For several chapters this meant combining posts in a series to make a longer essay, including those on sexual dimorphism in popular culture, marriage promotion, parenting and children’s names, and the Regnerus Affair.

The title comes from Anthony Kennedy’s Obergefell decision (at the suggestion of Judy Ruttenberg, my wife and the one with two history degrees, who knows about pulling titles out of primary sources). It’s about the good and the bad of bonds. From the introduction:

Kennedy wrote, “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.” It took the late justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative Catholic, to point out that marriage isn’t really about freedom. In his furious dissent, Scalia mocked the idea that people find “freedoms” in the “enduring bond” of marriage. “One would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage,” he scoffed. “Ask the nearest hippie.” Scalia had a point.

I hope you like it, for you or your students.

Here’s a review from Bella DePaulo at Unmarried Equality: “Less Marriage, More Equality?

The Contexts Reader (3e)


The editorial team of Syed Ali, Letta Page, and me have produced a new edition of the Contexts Reader, with W. W. Norton (order info)It’s more than 60 of our favorite pieces from the magazine we edited for 2015-2017, most of them new for this edition (and with a beautiful cover photo from Scott Matthews, who provided most of our cover images). Undergraduates are a huge part of the Contexts readership, and we’re super proud that this book has been a big part of thousands of students’ introductions to sociology. (Also, the royalties from this one go to the American Sociological Association, not us!)