For Thursday, 7/19 (SOC 227)

July 17, 2018

Prep

  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch.3 (‘The Family in Historical Perspective’): Sections 3.2 (on the African-American family) and 3.5 (‘The Golden Fifties’)
  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 4 (‘Racial & Ethnic Families’), Sections 4.2 (‘Race and Ethnicity Still Matter’), 4.3 (‘African American Families’), and 4.8 (‘Interracial and Interethnic Relationships and Marriages’)
  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan, ‘The Negro Family’

This is a lot of reading; the sections from the textbook are short, though. As for ‘The Negro Family’ (a.k.a. the Moynihan Report), focus on getting the basic idea, and pay special attention to the section devoted to the legacy of slavery in America. (You might also find some helpful tips for reading sociology here.)

In Class

  • Introductions for New Students
  • Google Docs: Mechanics (Word Count, etc.)
  • Catching Up
    • Some Historical Perspective
    • Theories of the Family
    • Research Methods
  • The Moynihan Report & Its Critics

After

  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 6 (‘Love and Loving Relationships’); Sections 6.4 (‘Some Theories about Love and Loving’; primarily ‘The Biochemistry of Love’), 6.7 (‘Jealousy: Trying to Control Love’), 6.8 (‘Love in Long-Term Relationships’), and 6.9 (‘Love Across Cultures’)
  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 7 (‘Sexuality and Sexual Expression Throughout Life’); Sects. 7.1 (‘Sexualiy and Human Development’), 7.5 (‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Sex’), and 7.7 (‘Sexual Infidelity’)
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813), Vol. I
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For Tuesday, 7/17 (SOC 227)

July 14, 2018

Before

In Class

  • No class on Tuesday; we’ll meet in person on Thursday. But stay tuned.

After

  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch.3 (‘The Family in Historical Perspective’): Sections 3.2 (on African-American families) and 3.5 (‘The Golden Fifties’)
  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 4 (‘Racial & Ethnic Families’), Sections 4.2 (‘Race and Ethnicity Still Matter’), 4.3 (‘African American Families’), and 4.8 (‘Interracial and Interethnic Relationships and Marriages’)
  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan, ‘The Negro Family’

 

Three Perspectives on the Family Essay

July 13, 2018

Benokraitis (2015:15-17; make sure you read this before you begin writing!) tells us that scholars of the family have generally interpreted recent changes in family life in one of three ways:

  1. The family is declining.
  2. The family has never been stronger.
  3. The family is changing, but neither better nor worse. Just different.

Which perspective best describes the way we live now, based on what we’ve read? And how does your own experience of family life, as well as the experience of your friends and intimates, shed light on this question? This version of the essay is more of a personal reflection, but you should also make reference to your assigned readings for this week. You are welcome to do some extracurricular research for this assignment (journalistic, photojournalistic, literary, documentary, cartographic, ethnographic, demographic, etc.), but bear in mind that not all sources are created equal.

Instructions (Follow these religiously!)

  1. The maximum word count for the body of the text (the essay itself, not including supporting documents such as a cover page, footnotes/endnotes, reference list, appendices, etc.) is 1,000 words.
  2. Print the word count at the top of the first page.
  3. Essays should be double-spaced, 12-pt. font.
  4. Make sure you include a reference list. In-text and reference-list citations should be done according to ASA style.
  5. Make sure to remove your name and any other identification from your document. I will grade you anonymously; Blackboard will enable me to identify who’s getting what grade after the fact.
  6. This essay should be formatted in Google Docs; submit it by pasting a shareable in the appropriate place on Blackboard (you can find the link for this assignment in folder for WEEK 2 on Blackboard).
  7. Essays that do not adhere to these guidelines will, in most cases, be returned without being graded. (If your word count for the body of the text is 1,001, for example, you have not followed instructions.)

 

Further Reading/Notes Toward a Personal Canon

‘Argument Papers’. 2018. Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved 28 May 2018 (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/724/1/). Contains valuable instructions as to how to organise your argument, as well as how to write introductions and conclusions — these paper sections are often the weakest in undergraduate writing.

Weida, Stacey, and Karl Stolley. 2017. ‘Organizing Your Argument’. Purdue Online Writing Lab. Presents a valuable recipe for connecting claims to supporting evidence and reasoning. It’s worth checking out related material on the OWL website, e.g., ‘Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for an Argument Paper’.

 

REFERENCES

Benokraitis, Nijole V. 2015. Marriage and the Family: Changes, Choices, and Constraints.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Lewis, Natasha, and Madeleine Schwartz. 2016. ‘Whose Family? Introducing Our Winter Issue’. Dissent, Winter. Here’s a brief introductory essay that flirts with the ‘never better’ school of thought on the changing family. You would expect a left-leaning journal of opinion to welcome those changes that have benefited same-sex couples or led to more autonomy for women, and Lewis and Schwartz do not disappoint.

For Thursday, 7/12 (SOC 327)

July 12, 2018

Before

In Class

  • Ground Rules
  • Introductions
  • Review of the Syllabus
  • Google Drive Folders/Submitting Google Docs
  • Tour of the Blackboard Site
  • For Next Time: Review of HW Assignment

After

  • HW Due: Midterm Rough Draft
  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 1 (‘The Changing Family’); Sections 1.1 (‘What Is a Family?’), 1.2 (‘How Are Families Similar?’), 1.3 (‘How Do Families Differ Worldwide?’), 1.4 (‘Some Myths About the Family’), and 1.5 (‘Three Perspectives on the Changing Family’)
  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 2 (‘Studying the Family’), Sections 2.1 (‘Why Theories and Research Are Important in Our Everyday Lives’), 2.2 (‘Theoretical Perspectives on Families’ — SKIM), 2.3 (‘Family Research Methods’), and 2.4 (‘Ethics, Politics, and Family Research — SKIM)

For Wednesday, 5/23 (SOC 1103 MW)

May 22, 2018

Prep

  • Review Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 16 (‘Families in Later Life’)

In Class

For Next Time

  • The final exam is due by 23:59 (end of the day) on Thursday, 5/24

For Saturday, 5/26 (SOC 1103 CN)

May 22, 2018

Prep

  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 16 (‘Families in Later Life’), esp. Sections 16.1 (‘Our Aging Society’); 16.2 (‘Health and Ageism’); 16.6 (‘Dying, Death, and Bereavement’); 16.8 (‘Caregiving in Later Life’)

In Class

  • Round-Up: I’ll quickly read out the names of those who still owe me work. I don’t want anyone to fail simply because they neglected to turn something in. Note: If you’ve already turned in your class participation self-evaluation and you’ve received a grade for it, you can always revise, revamp, and resubmit in hopes of a higher grade!
  • Film: Ran (Kurosawa, 1985)
  • Q&A: Families in Later Life

For Next Time

  • Final Exam

Lions in Winter: Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’, ‘King Lear’, and the Care of Aging Parents

May 18, 2018

My mother has early onset Alzheimer’s.  She received this diagnosis several years ago, when there were already signs of cognitive decline. Had I read the ‘Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease’ inset in our textbook back then (Benokraitis 2015:470), I would have recognised those signs — e.g., memory loss and disorientation as to time and place — for what they were, instead of reacting so peevishly to what I took to be something that she could control. In any event, some months after her diagnosis she called me up and explained that she wanted me to have powers of attorney over her affairs; she foresaw then that a time would come when she could no longer run her own life. In the years since I’ve taken up this responsibility, I’ve found that it requires a delicate balancing act between doing what she can’t do for herself, on the one hand, and trying not to strip away all her feelings of agency, on the other (e.g., controlling her access to her own life’s savings).

I haven’t always gotten this balance right — far from it, in fact: I’m often too quick to patronise her, or to dismiss her pleas for more control. And this is a dilemma that’s well portrayed in Ran: I think of the conflict between Hidetora and Taro, which occurs fairly early on (so no real spoilers there) over the right of the former to retain his personal retinue within the castle walls, along with the insignia and title of ‘Great Lord’.  We can see that stripping these things away would be to strip Hidetora not only of the trappings of his success and station, but of his very identity; they are the markers of a long, bloody climb to the top. But we can also readily understand Taro’s concerns and desire to assert his own authority, to be his own man. So this is one example of the way in which Ran dramatises the issues facing families in later life — among them depression and dementia among the elderly, caregiving of elderly relatives, caregiving styles, sibling relationships in later life, generational transitions— in a way that adds flesh to what would otherwise be an awfully dry textbook recitation of facts and figures.

(Another classic dramatization of these issues is of course Shakespeare’s King Lear, which grew into one of Kurosawa’s most important source materials about a year or two after he had begun work on the screenplay for Ran back in the seventies.)

But of course, even though Kurosawa deals with these topics brilliantly, he’s also asking the most profound questions any human being can ask. What do parents owe to their children, and what do children owe to their parents? How do we balance the obligations and responsibilities of family with all our other needs, desires, and ambitions? What do we owe to each other in general? And finally, what sense are we to make of a world that is so often cruel and unjust? Ran suggests answers to all of these questions — although as with any great work of art, understanding these answers takes a great deal of excavation and interpretation, and deciding whether we agree with the magisterial director can be a lifelong work of reflection.

You will see, then, that Kurosawa is a masterful storyteller; but the video essay below is very helpful in terms of understanding and appreciating some of the things that Akira Kurosawa does as a filmmaker. Bonus insights for you if you’re a fan of the Marvel Avengers franchise.

Further Reading/Notes Toward a Personal Canon

Debussy, Claude. Music from Le Roi Lear.

Green, Kyle. 2015. ‘Matthew Hughey on His Tripartite Methodological Approach to Understanding Film’The Society Pages, 10 April. Retrieved 6 June 2018 (https://thesocietypages.org/methods/2015/03/12/matthew-hughey-on-his-tripartite-methodological-approach-to-understanding-film/). In this podcast, Hughey discusses his analysis of ‘white saviour’ films — a bit removed from our main concerns, but here you can get a sense of how a sociologist might approach the study of film, as opposed to, say, a film critic or a film historian.

Shakespeare, William. [1606?]. King Lear.

 

REFERENCES

Ran. 1985. Directed by Akira Kurosawa.

For Monday, 5/21 (SOC 1103 MW)

May 18, 2018

So it turns out that, despite some very misleading announcements posted around the building, we are to meet for class on Monday. Fear not: Monday’s agenda will be pretty relaxed. We’ll continue a bit with the movie, then stop to talk about writing.

Prep

  • Review Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 16 (‘Families in Later Life’)

In Class

For the Final Exam Period

  • Ran: Conclusion

For Thursday, 5/17 (SOC 1103 MW)

May 16, 2018

Prep

  • Review Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 16 (‘Families in Later Life’)

As I mentioned in class, the video essay below is very helpful in terms of understanding and appreciating some of the things that Akira Kurosawa does as a filmmaker. Bonus insights for you if you’re a fan of the Marvel Avengers franchise.


In Class

  • Ran (1985), cont’d

For the Final Exam Period (Wednesday, 5/23)

  • Ran (1985), cont’d
  • Discussion

 

 

For Wednesday, 5/16 (SOC 1103 MW)

May 15, 2018

Prep

  • Benokraitis (2015), Ch. 16 (‘Families in Later Life’), esp. Sections 16.1 (‘Our Aging Society’); 16.2 (‘Health and Ageism’); 16.6 (‘Dying, Death, and Bereavement’); 16.8 (‘Caregiving in Later Life’)

In Class

  • TBA

For Thursday, 5/17

  • Families in Later Life, cont’d