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Final Exam: “The Sociology of Families”

The final exam consists of two questions. Be sure to answer both. Of course, since this is an on-line course, it is open book – open


, as a matter of fact. Feel free to use contributions from the discussions (whether it be your own post or posts from others), the textbook, and information from credible websites and sources.

Question 1.

Provide your assessment of the current state of the social institution of the family. Include the following in your answer:

Explain what is meant by the term “social institution”.

Why is the family is a social institution and what functions it has historically performed for society?

How has the family changed as a social institution? Compare the functions fulfilled by the “traditional family” with those of today’s family. What functions has it retained? Has it picked up any new ones? What functions are no longer central to today’s family? What changes have occurred with respect to statuses, roles and norms in the family?

What are the implications of these changes for society and for individuals? How do these changes impact other social institutions?

What broader social changes can help us to explain the transformation in the family we have witnessed over the past three generations (roughly from World War II to the present)? You might consider such factors as changes in other social institutions (such as the government, the economy, education and religion), the women’s movement, changes in gender roles, technological advances, changes in values and norms, and familism versus individualism, and others.

What is the future of the family? How will this impact society and what adjustments might be necessary to accommodate the changes?

Question 2.

We have covered a great deal of information this semester exploring the broad subject of families and relationships and a myriad of related issues. Yes, you will receive a grade for the course and that is very important to you at this immediate time in your life. The ultimate benefit of education, though, is application of what we learn to improve our lives and the lives of others. In other words, to make the world in which we live a better place.

Take some time to review and consider material from the textbook, the websites we’ve visited and our discussions. How can you apply what you have learned this semester to your life – today and in the future? What insights about yourself, relationships and society have you gained and how might you use these learnings? What behaviors and patterns might you examine and, perhaps, decide to do a bit differently? What can you take away from this course that will assist you to make decisions about relationships and family that are consistent with your values and the long-term goals you have in life?

This is a broad question. Think about how you might approach it before putting it to paper. I know you will have questions about how your submission will be evaluated. I will be looking for you to demonstrate a solid and comprehensive understanding of the course content and the ability to relate the concepts, theories and research findings to real life. In other words, demonstrate the knowledge you have gained and show how you can use it. The more knowledge you demonstrate the better. The more insight you show in being able to use what you have learned, the better.

You might be thinking, “Where do I begin?” To help get you started, I’ve provided a suggested framework around building your response. Use this as a guide. Not all will apply to everyone. Emphasize what is most relevant to you. Here are some recommended areas to consider while constructing your answer (do not feel you must confine yourself to these, however):

Love. Examples of what you might consider include:

Theories of love and how they apply to your experience

Your “love style” and whether it is healthy for you

“Legitimate” versus “illegitimate” needs

“Healthy” and “Unhealthy” types of love and how they may or may have impacted you, your partner and the quality of your relationships.

The “Marriage Market” and qualities you have been attracted to. Are these consistent with your values and goals for a long-term relationship?

How might your social context – the way you were raised, your social class, your role models, education, your past relationships – impact the “relationship you”? What are your assets and strengths? What are your development opportunities?

Interests, Career and Activities. Examples of what you might consider include:

How have your gender and gender socialization impacted the decisions you have made? Has it limited you from imagining the range of your full potential? How has it influenced where you find yourself today? Does it influence or limit how you express yourself in relationships?

Have you been prone to “choosing by default”? How has this influenced the relationships you have had, the activities you engage in, and the direction your life has taken to this point in your life? By making more informed decisions, what might you do differently?

Communication and Conflict in Relationships. Examples of what you might consider include:

Equality, power and abuse in relationships

Dealing with crisis and stress in families and relationships

Re-marriage and starting step-families

Resolving differences

Considering the option of divorce

Parenting. Examples of what you might consider include:

Parenting styles

Individualism versus familism. Where are you along that continuum and how might that guide you in deciding on children?

Child care

Traditional versus non-traditional wife/mother, husband/father roles

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