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Thompson Rivers University 50th Anniversary
Thompson Rivers University 50th Anniversary

SOCI 4311: Sociology of the Family

Students will explore the characteristics of families around the world, especially in non-Western societies, as they experience the forces of globalization and social change. Building on comparative family studies, students will first explore varied kinship structures and stages in family life. Students then investigate how contemporary families are impacted by global forces, including media, employment, violence, and migration. Students will also examine how social inequality, through the relations of gender, race and poverty, further influences family dynamics. In concluding the course, students review the potential of social policy to support the needs of global families in transition.


Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the significance of variations in family and kinship systems for an understanding of global society.
  • Identify and discuss the forces contributing to contemporary changes in non-Western families.
  • Compare the characteristics of the traditional family with those of emerging families in non-industrial societies.
  • Differentiate between a comparative or cross-cultural perspective of the family and a global perspective.
  • Distinguish between the positive and negative effects of globalization for the family.
  • Analyze the forces of globalization most likely to impact families in developing nations.
  • Discuss the ways in which social inequality influences the lives of global families.
  • Evaluate examples of family policy and their impacts on global families today.

Course outline

The course is organized into four instructional units and contains eight major topics. The lessons provide specific learning outcomes that guide your learning; course notes that highlight, discuss, and illustrate important points in the textbook, as well as practice and review exercises. The outline is as follows:

Unit 1: Families in Global Perspective

  • Introduction to the Global Family
  • Kinship Structure, Residence and Marriage

Unit 2: Stages and Dynamics of Family Life

  • Stages of Family Life: Roles and Relations
  • Comparative Family Organization: Regional Differences

Unit 3: The Family and Globalization

  • Families, Demographics and Global Change
  • Impacts of Globalization on Families

Unit 4: Social Inequality, Policy and Family Futures

  • Diversity, Social Inequality and the Family
  • Social Inequality: Poverty and Social Policy

Required text and materials

  1. Ingoldsby, B. & Smith, S. (2006) Families in Global and Multicultural Perspective (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    ISBN: 9780761928195. Type: Textbook
  1. Karraker, M. K. (2014) Global Families (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    ISBN: 9781412998635. Type: TRU-Reprint of textbook.


To complete this course successfully, you must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory Final Exam. The following table shows how your final grade will be determined for this course.

Assignment 1 - Universality and Difference in Global Families 15%
Assignment 2 - Transitions in Family Life 15%
Assignment 3 - Globalization 15%
Assignment 4 - Social Inequality and Policy 15%
Final Exam * 40%
Total 100%

* Mandatory

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is by phone if you are taking the print version of the course and through the "mail" tool in the Learning Environment if you are taking the web version. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.

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