Marriage and the family

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 13:30pm - 15:20pm

Lecture venue

Course description

Patterns of marriage and family formation in the postindustrial world have considerably changed in the past several decades. Fertility rates have declined, age at marriage has gone up, divorce rates have increased, cohabitation rates have increased, and nonmarital childbearing has become more common in most postindustrial settings.

This course will exposure students to sociological concepts and debates related to these family/marriage issues, focusing on the patterns, causes, and consequences of the changing family behaviors and values. While this scholarly exploration will take a global perspective, a particular attention will be given to (1) East Asian societies (e.g., China, Japan, South Korea) and (2) cross-cultural differences between East Asia and Western postindustrial societies.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Read and critically evaluate scholarly research on family
  2. Apply sociological/demographic theories and methods to creatively analyze family issues in both the local and global contexts
  3. Effectively communicate what you learn about the sociology of family in both written and oral form


Class participation and attendance10%
Four short reading responses40%
Final Exam50%

Required reading

In each week, 2~3 research articles and/or book chapters are assigned as required readings. The readings consist of both theoretical and empirical pieces. Some of the key readings will include the following:

Recommended reading

For those who would want to learn various family-related topics in a systematically arranged way, I recommend one of the following textbooks:

  • Andrew Cherlin, Public and Private Families: An Introduction, 9th edition (2021). McGraw Hill.
  • Philip Cohen, The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change, 3rd edition (2020). W.W. Norton & Company.

Course co-ordinator and teachers