SOC 1130-61

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Family and Society

SOC 1130-61

Spring 2012

Inver Hills Community College

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota 55076


Credits: 3 Semester credits

Thursdays: 3:30pm to 4:45pm, Fine Arts, Room 280  (1/9/12-5/9/12)

                  (NOTE: This is a hybrid online course with much of the work online)

Instructor: Dave Berger               email:

Office: 214 Activities Building, Inver Hills Community College

Phone: (651) 450-3545  (Voice mail available )

Office Hours: MWF 9 to 10am; TTH 2pm to 3pm; right after class; and by appointment.  (If I am not in my office, check the classroom…FA280).



Families as They Really Are.  2009. Edited by Barbara J. Risman.

When Sex Goes to School 2207. By Kristin Luker.

What is a Family? 2009 by Kathy Sue Elasky.



      There are TWO basic objectives of this class.  First, this course will introduce class members to the broad discipline of Family Sociology.  We will learn about sociological theories of family behavior, research methods,   and other basic concepts.    Second, in order to understand how personalities interact to create social groups, families, and societies, we must also promote empowerment of the students by encouraging the development of democratic behaviors and values. To this end, we will share some of the powers that are traditionally reserved for the instructor.  We shall create a quasi-representative democracy complete with executive (the teacher) and legislative (the students) components.  The four standing committees are Topics, Writing, Testing, and Participation. This syllabus was created jointly by the students and the instructor the first week of class.

Special Note:  This course fulfills goals 5 (Social Sciences) and 7 (Human Diversity) of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum.


Nine sub goals that support the two class objectives:

This course, in concert with the rest of your college education, should help you to develop the ability to…


Think critically                     Have respect for others                  Live in a community  

Solve complex problems       Act in a principled manner           Be able to adapt to change

Read, write, and speak effectively      Engage in life-long learning    Be dependable




1) While the syllabus forms the foundation of our course, changes in ANYTHING are possible during the semester (except NO EXTRA CREDIT).  Any class member may initiate a change during the semester.  To get an issue on the ballot, a member must go to the appropriate committee with a written proposal (committee members will be listed on the syllabus).  If the majority of the committee approves the change, the class as a whole will vote on it.  If a majority of class members then vote in favor of the change, it will take effect.  Proposals can involve class location, breaks, test formats, etc.  This is your chance to have input into your education.  The instructor has the same rights as a class member.  This means that he must go through the same committee process if he wishes to change something in this syllabus.  An issue that dies in committee can only be revived by a 2/3rds majority class vote.  A petition form is be attached to this syllabus.


2) If a class decision CLEARLY violates school policy or the integrity of the learning environment, the instructor may have to modify or veto the change.  In such an event, a full explanation will be given to the membership.


3) Votes involving the entire class membership will occur only after a period of discussion (with people speaking pro/con).  Class members SHOULD, at any time, challenge or contribute to class discussions and/or lectures.  Democracy must be learned in our everyday life if we are expected to participate fully in a democratic republic.

While freedom of speech will be our foundation, speech that violates another’s rights will not be tolerated (no harassment, hate speech, or racism is acceptable).


4) The four committees will meet whenever there is a petition that they must entertain or when a majority of committee members call for a meeting or when Dave asks them to meet to consider a proposal.  Some committees may never meet again, while some committees may meet more than a few times 




Week of                                 TOPICS                               READING ASSIGNMENT


Jan. 12, 2012          Class Convention to Create Syllabus    Prefaces to all texts

Jan. 19, 2012                       -Describe course:  What is Sociology?    What is a Family? 

                                                 -Why Study Family Science?              (read entire book)

                                                 -Basic Concepts                             Risman #1 & 2


Jan.  26, 2012      Sociological Theories of the Family           Risman # 3 & 4                                                        What is a Family?  Marriage?


Feb. 2, 2012       Research Methodology and Family Science   Review #1-#4  

                 -- Independent/Dependent Variables and Hypotheses  Luker pp 263-279

                    -How to read a journal article, tables and charts   


Feb. 9, 2012         More on Sociological Research Methods         Risman  #5 & 6

                            Historical American Family Structures        Luker pp. 5-11



Feb. 16, 2012         LOVE: Theories and Patterns              Risman  #7, #8, #10 & 11

                                Interracial and intercultural Marriage            Luker pp. 15-33      


Feb. 17-19, 2012      Online EXAM #1:  Opens Friday the 17t, closes Sunday the 19th

          (Covers all the Risman and Luker sections above including all audio files and online discusssions)


Feb. 23, 2012    Gender and Gender Role Socialization     Risman #30, #32,  #33 …                                                                                                                               #34, #36

                                     Women & Men


Weds. March 1, 2012     Written Assignment #1 Due: Creative Writing (100pts)

                                                 See attached assignment sheet…D2L … Use drop box   


March 1, 2012     Dating, Mate Selection, and Single hood      Risman   #28, #13 ,…..                                                                                                                                    #31, #35         -                                     -Single Parent Dating                                      


                                       -  Phone Dating Services

                                       -MySpace, FaceBook, Farmers, Yahoo, Star Trek


March 5-9, 2012       SPRING BREAK:  NO CLASSES 


March 15, 2012       Sexuality: The Social Meaning of Sex               Risman #12

                                                                                                                Luker pp. 35-149


March 22, 2012       Marriage as Process/Marriage as Structure   Risman #15 #16

                                        -Institutional Dynamics -Enduring Marriages   Luker pp. 27-33

                                                                                                                        Risman pp. 313-328


March 29, 2012       In-Class Exam  #2       

(Covers all the Risman and Luker sections from the last exam including all audio files and online discussions)



April 5, 2012        Parenting and Child Rearing                              Luker pp. 149-241

                                      -Parenting Styles                                    Risman #14. #22, #23, #24

                                     -Roles of Children   

                                      -Absentee Parents

                                     -Foster Care and Adoption

April 5, 2012       Written Assignment #2 Due :  What is a Family? Interview Research:  Assignment sheet will be handed out in class (100 points)

April 12, 2012      Divorce and Remarriage   Risman #17 #18 and pp. 178-182

                                  Prison and Delinquency and the Family Structure    

                                     -Resingling, Custody, Blended Families                

                                        -Children of Divorced Parents; Children of Unmarried Parents

April 19, 2012      Same Sex Marriage                       Risman #9, #20, #21

                                  and Domestic Partnerships

                                  Stigma, Tradition, and Equal Rights

 April 26, 2012       Death, Aging, and Family Interaction     Risman #25 #26 #27    

                                 -The Death Shift and the Post-Modern World        

May 3, 2012    Written Assignment #3 : When Sex Goes to School    (100 points)  Assignment sheet to be handed out in class                            

May 3, 2012          Domestic Abuse and the Family            Risman #37, #38, #39

May 4-6, 2012      Online EXAM #3:  Opens Friday the 6t, closes Sunday the 5th (Covers all the Risman and Luker sections from the last exam including all audio files and online discussions)


* Schedule subject to change by topics committee action and class vote.


WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS (300 Points or 30 Percent):

     There will be 3 papers.   The each paper is worth 100 points (300 total points possible).   Below is a list of papers with due dates and Topics.   All papers are due at the beginning of the class period.


Assign. #          DUE:                Points                        TOPIC:

  1         March 1, 2012             100 points     Creative Writing

  2         April 5, 2012               100 points    What is a Family:  (Interview Research)

  3         May 3, 2012                100 points    When Sex Goes to School by Luker


   Policy on late papers:  10 points off for each day late. Emergencies will be exempted.  The papers are due at the beginning of class on the day they are due.  However, use the dropbox on D2L for all papers. Policy on Plagiarism and cheating: If you cheat on a paper you will get a zero on that assignment. These assignments will be graded on completeness, clarity, and understanding.  Please type these assignments.  Grammar, spelling are important but I will not deduct points for such things.  I am much more interested in you demonstrating your creativity and understanding of sociological concepts.   No minimum or maximum length is needed.  Use whatever paper format you desire.  Just fully and clearly answer the questions from the assignment sheet.  Assignment sheets will be distributed for each assignment approximately three to four weeks before they are due.  The assignment sheet for the first assignment is attached to this syllabus.


EXAMINATIONS (300 Points or 30 Percent):  There will be two online exams and one in class exam…each worth 100 points.  You will have one weekend to complete the online exams (timed exams of 90 minutes.  The exams cover about one and a half months of class topics.  Class members will be allowed to make-up a test if they notify Dave and work it out with him within one week.   Policy on Plagiarism: If you cheat on a test, you get a zero on test.   Take online exams must be completed individually.


EXAM #          DATE:                 TYPE:                                                                Points     

  1         February 17-19, 2012     First Online Exam: multiple choice/short essay    100pts

  2         March 29, 2012              In Class Exam: multiple/short essay                      100pts

  3         May 4-6, 2012               Second Online Exam: multiple choice/short essay 100pts



IN CLASS PARTICIPATION (190 Points or 19 Percent):

     This is not a lecture course!  Discussion, role plays, small group activities, music and video clips are included in this class to get you to practically apply the concepts that you learn.  This is a "hands on" course. You will get very involved with speaking, listening, and doing.  There will be note taking at times (since a minimal amount of lecturing is necessary).  As discussed by the participation committee the in-class point distribution is:

                    Attendance                               90 points

                    In- Class Discussions             100 points 

If you are not in class you lose these points. Note that excused absences will not have points deducted. Point deductions begin after your second absence.

We only meet in class 15 times (once each week except during Spring Break on March 6).   Note that points will also be assigned for online participation (see next section).



School policy: if a student misses two consecutive weeks without an acceptable excuse, they can be dropped from the course (See student hand book).  Emergencies happen and we will make allowances for them.  However, if you know at this point that you are going to miss four or more classes, please drop this course and try and get your money back ASAP.   This is not a consumer model based course.  It is rather a quality based interactive course.  Participation is essential to learning….this includes online participation like reading creating posts and reading other people’s posts (see the next section).



There will be 7 online discussions for this course worth 30 points each (210 points total- 21 percent of course grade).   The discussions will last approximately 14 days each.  You will be asked to make your original or initial post within a few days of the discussion opening (every other Sunday starting Sunday, January 29, 2012 by 11:59pm).  These initial postings require that you read the material in the texts and under content.  You MUST also listen to the podcasts for each discussion and respond to a series of questions listed under each discussion. You will then be asked to make two meaningful responses to other students.  The first response will be due on Monday while the second response will be due on Tuesday.  To get the full 30 points for a discussion, you will have to do the initial post plus the two responses in a meaningful and timely fashion.  There will be no minimum or maximum post lengths.  You just need to answer the questions posed by the instructor in the discussion sections in a meaningful way that follows the guidelines below.  Quality is more important than quantity. Not that you are expected to read most of the other student posts as well (see below for grading).


Well-constructed discussion posts will include the following:

In your discussion posts I am looking for the use of critical thinking. Critical thinking shows or requires careful analysis before judgment.

•Providing pertinent information to the class discussion from assigned readings (both the textbook & podcasts).   Posts will be graded lower if they do not include information from podcasts and the textbooks.
•Keeping all remarks positive, but at the same time questioning things with which there is disagreement.
•Sharing personal experience, other classes, websites, and other relevant information.
•Building on commentaries from other students. •Proper citation of sources.

* READ at LEAST 75 percent of other students posts.  Since this is a discussion based course, you must read other class member posts. Reading less than 75 percent of other students posts will result in a lower grade.


Please do not simply say you like what they said or agree with them.  Add depth and meaning to your responses.  It is okay to disagree with somebody but do it in a respectful way.  Please use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  Try to avoid internet-speak, especially the “caps language” (LOL, LMAO, BRB, etc.).  This is a classroom environment and not facebook.  Please be respectful and thoughtful at all times.



Online discussion Schedule for Spring Semester 2012 (See Discussion Section)


 #     Open dates      Initial Post by      1st Response by    2nd Response by     Topic.


 1    Jan 21-Jan 31    Sunday, Jan 29     Monday, Jan 30      Tuesday, Jan 31   Soc.Theory

 2    Feb 1-Feb 14     Sunday, Feb 12    Monday, Feb 13     Tuesday, Feb 14   Research

----------------First Online Quiz ------------Includes Discussions #1-#2 Above----


 3    Feb 15-Feb 28   Sunday, Feb 26    Monday, Feb 27    Tuesday, Feb 28   Gender Role

 4    Feb 29- Mar 20 Sunday, Mar 18   Monday, Mar 19    Tuesday, Mar 20   Sex

 ---------------MIDTERM EXAM ---------Includes Discussions #1-#4 Above---------------


 5    Mar 21-April 3   Sunday, Apr 1    Monday, Apr 2      Tuesday, Apr 3     Marriage

 6    April 4-17           Sunday, Apr 15  Monday, Apr 16    Tuesday, Apr 17   Parenting

---------------Second Online Exam---------Includes Discussion #5 and #6 Above----------


7   April 18-May 1    Sunday, Apr 29  Monday, Apr 30    Tuesday, May 1     Same Sex

--------------------FINAL EXAM ----------Includes Discussions #5-#7 Above------------


Instructions and questions for these seven (7) discussions will be posted for your viewing on D2L under discussions (theory is now posted…classical theory to be posted soon).  Outlines, podcasts, and documents for each discussion are posted under content. You can work ahead somewhat but the actual posting cannot occur earlier than the above listed open discussion dates.


Make sure to listen to any audio files or pod casts in the content area that are given for each discussion BEFORE you do your postings.  Also check the content section to see if there are any additional handouts for each discussion or any video clips that need to be viewed.  Again….include podcast information/detail in your postings!



     Grades are based on what you earn from your 3 exams (300 points), 3 papers (300 points), in class participation (190 points), and 7 online discussions (210 points). A maximum of 1,000 Points  (100 percent) is possible.  I will not be using a curve to assign grades; they will be determined in this way:


                      Grade          Points                %

                          A             900-1,000         90

                          B             800-899            80

                          C             700-799            70

                          D             600-699            60

                          F              599 or Below









I petition that the following proposal be placed on a ballot before our entire class membership:

To the ____________________Committee.  Dear distinguished committee members, I propose…

























Turn this form into the appropriate committee as soon as possible.  Given time limitations, votes Dec. have to be postponed until the next class period. 


Committee Action:   Forward to class____   Defeat_____


HELPFUL HINTMake your proposal as specific as possible and include some sort of rationale.  More of your class members will vote for something if they understand why it is needed.  Feel free to lobby your position before and after class and during breaks.