BAEcon Development Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Family, Relationships and Everyday Life

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY20701
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

 

The course unit aims to:

  • Explore everyday relationships and their sociological significance for contemporary debates on family, personal life and kinship; as well as illuminating the importance of relationships in all aspects of everyday life (e.g. work, economy, home).
  • To provide theoretical frameworks and empirical materials to allow students to explore for themselves how personal relationships are played out through all aspects of everyday life.
  • Explore and critique different relationships through different institutions and practices.

Aims

 

The course unit aims to:

  • Explore everyday relationships and their sociological significance for contemporary debates on family, personal life and kinship; as well as illuminating the importance of relationships in all aspects of everyday life (e.g. work, economy, home).
  • To provide theoretical frameworks and empirical materials to allow students to explore for themselves how personal relationships are played out through all aspects of everyday life.
  • Explore and critique different relationships through different institutions and practices.

Syllabus

The course will be divided into 3 key segments: Introducing theories, thinking about relationships through social institutions; exploring relationships and practices. Weeks 1-3 will begin by discussing the key themes of the module; focusing in particular on developments in theories of family and how the course will approach these through varying structures. This will firstly include thinking about historical approaches to family studies and traditional theories, such as that of the nuclear family (Parsons). This theoretical and conceptual focus will continue into the following two weeks to provide the students with the foundations for the module. This will include exploring contemporary theories and approaches to family, personal life and the everyday, including thinking about family as practice (Morgan), personal life (Smart), and genetics, biological and social forms of kinship.

 

From these foundations we begin with the first social institution which will be the home. We will consider the importance of the home within everyday relationships, thinking about different living situations (co-housing, renting) and how the idea and experience of home might be constructed and implicated in personal and social memory practices around everyday relationships. Developing from the home, we think about the importance of work and employment within everyday relationships. We discuss what we mean by work and how work is important in the maintenance and negotiation of relationships, such as through household divisions of labour. We also consider different relationships which work may foster such as those with colleagues and employers. From work we consider money as an institution, thinking about how money is negotiated within different everyday relationships, such as through household management, or inheritance practices. From focusing on social institutions, in Weeks 7-9 we move to explore relationships and practices, beginning with a focus on consumption. We think about how our consumption practices are important to everyday relationships with others, exploring the significance of identity creation, and also how everyday relationships are fostered through economic transactions. This leads on to considering the importance of the digital within contemporary relationships. We look at how relationships are maintained over the internet, be that with friends, partners or family. We think about some of the negative and positive aspects of technology on everyday relationships and if it is eroding our ability to connect with others. Our penultimate lecture considers the importance of reproduction and everyday relationships. We explore how new reproductive technologies such as egg and sperm donation ask questions about the way we think about relationships and family life, and also about reproduction, kinship and race/ethnicity. Our final week draws the course to a close, offering a recap on the topics covered whilst also contemplating the future study of relationships and everyday life.

 

Lecture-style material will be delivered weekly through a mix of up to one hour pre-recorded (i.e. asynchronous) content and one hour live (i.e. synchronous) lecturer-led classes. Additionally, weekly one hour small-group tutorials will be delivered on-campus as long as government guidelines allow, otherwise they will be delivered online.

Lectures will focus on exploring and critiquing everyday relationships and family life through different structural framings. Classic texts in the field of family sociology and the sociology of personal life will be drawn upon, alongside contemporary debates in books, journal articles and the media enabling students to consider the key theoretical arguments in relation to empirical case studies.

In tutorials and through presentations, students will be encouraged to explore empirical examples of everyday relationships, applying theoretical knowledge from the course to critique and debate them.

Video materials will be suggested as recommended viewing in advance of particular workshops and shorter video or audio materials used within lectures.

The course will utilise Blackboard and other software to deliver the module’s course content, core readings, lecture slides, any supplementary materials such as video materials, and communication.

Knowledge and understanding

 

  • Understand and critique different everyday relationships and explain their relevance to different structural framings.
  • Be able to apply theoretical knowledge to the sociological understanding of everyday relationships and family life.

Intellectual skills

 

  • Evaluate competing analytical perspectives
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of empirical evidence
  • Employ material available from academic, media and policy sources to make effective arguments.
  • Develop a critical approach to academic, media and policy texts.

Practical skills

 

  • Use library and electronic sources and resources
  • Undertake and present independent research

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 

  • Present ideas and ask questions in group discussion.
  • Work with others to develop ideas and make presentations.
  • Develop a critical approach to contemporary sociological debates on everyday relationships, family and personal life.

Assessment methods

The assessment for this module will be a 50% essay and 50% open book exam.

             Coursework essay 2000 words worth 50% of the mark.              

One exam based on two questions to be taken at the end of the course worth 50% of the total mark (or online equivalent)               

Students must also:

One non-assessed presentation (5-7 minute talk plus visual aids to be handed in via Turnitin/Blackboard); formative feedback provided . DASS students may submit slides for assessment as an alternative

Feedback methods

Summative Presentation to peers during tutorial. DASS students may submit slides for assessment as an alternative -Written with feedback day for verbal follow-up.

Assessed essay -Written and summative feedback

Assessed exam - Summativefeedback

 

 

 

Recommended reading

 

Allan, G. and Crow, G. (2001) Families, Households and Society, London: Palgrave.

Finch, J. and Mason, J. (1993) Negotiating Family Responsibilities, London: Tavistock/Routledge.

Gillis, J. (1996) A World of their Own Making, New York: BasicBooks.

Jamieson, L. (2013) ‘Personal Relationships, Intimacy and the Self in a Mediated and Global Digital Age’ in K. Orton-Johnson and N. Prior (eds) Digital Sociology: critical perspectives, Palgrave Macmillan.

May, V. and Nordqvist, P. (ed.) (2019) Sociology of Personal Life, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mason, J. (2018) Affinities: Potent Connections in Personal Life, London: Wiley.

Mason, J. (2008) ‘Tangible Affinities and the Real Life Fascination of Kinship’, Sociology 42(1): 29-45.

Morgan, D. (2011) Rethinking Family Practices, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Scott, J., Treas, J and Richards M. (eds.) (2004) The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families, Oxford: Blackwell.

Smart, C. (2007) Personal Life: New Directions in Sociological Thinking, Cambridge: Polity.

Weeks, J. (2007) The World We Have Won, London: Routledge.

Williams, F. (2004) Rethinking Families, London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Zelizer, V.A. (2011) Economic Lives, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.  Ch. 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Helen Holmes Unit coordinator

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