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SOCI 4301: Family Life In Contemporary Canada

Students examine many facets of contemporary family life in Canada, beginning historically and looking cross-culturally within the nation. Sociological concepts, theories, and research methodologies are employed as a means to explain the causes and consequences of transformations of family life over time. These transformations include those that have already occurred and those that continue to take place, including dramatic changes in gender roles and divisions of labour. Emphasis is placed upon diversity within and between families; the increased pressures on families within a consumer society; and the impacts upon families from globalization and a pervasive neoliberal ideological, social, political and economic context.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Think critically about families as a major sociological institution and about family life in Canada
  • Apply the sociological imagination by linking the experiences of individuals within families to the broader socio-economic and political context
  • Assess the specific issues and challenges families in Canada today face
  • Assess the consequences of diverse social locations such as ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual orientation / preference, and social class for, and in, contemporary Canadian families
  • Analyse Canadian family life through a variety of theoretical lenses
  • Critically assess existing research on Canadian families
  • Discuss and examine the transformations in family life historically through to today
  • Discuss and examine selected important contemporary trends and their consequences for families in Canada today

Course topics

SOCI 4301: Family Life in Contemporary Canada includes the following four units:

  • Unit 1: Understanding Families Sociologically and in Context
  • Unit 2: Understanding Family Theories and Research Methodologies
  • Unit 3: Understanding Family Diversity
  • Unit 4: Understanding the Division of Family Labour and Family Production and Consumption

Required text and materials

  1. Fox, Bonnie (Ed.). Family Patterns, Gender Relations. (4e). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2014.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-0-19-544747-7
  1. Mitchell, Barbara A. 2017. Family Matters: An Introduction to Family Sociology in Canada (3e). Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars Press. .
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-1-77338-021-6
  1. Smith, Suzanne R. and Hamon, R. R. Exploring family theories. (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017.
    Type: ISBN: 978-0-19-029726-8

Additional requirements

We strongly recommend that you have access to the Internet as you will need it to complete many of the activities and to access resources that you may require to complete your assessments. You can find detailed information about the hardware, software, and computer skills requirements for your course at


To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory project.

Assignment 1: Short Essays - Families and Family Theories 20%
Assignment 2: Short Essays - Family Diversity 20%
Assignment 3: Short Essays - Division of Family Labour, Family Production and Consumption 20%
Assignment 4: Online Discussions/Short Answers 10%
Final Project * 30%
Total 100%

* Mandatory

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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