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21A.230J / SP.456J / WMN.456J The Contemporary American Family, Spring 2004

Same-sex couple married in Boston (May 20, 2004).
Same-sex couple Drew Dionisio, left, and Brandon Clark, both of Marblehead, MA are married at the Arlington Street Church in Boston (May 20, 2004). In November of 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo courtesy of Dan Bersak.)

Highlights of this Course

A complete set of lecture notes and study questions for all readings are available.

Course Description

We begin by considering briefly the evolution of the family, its cross-cultural variability, and its history in the West. We next examine how the family is currently defined in the U.S., discussing different views about what families should look like. Class and ethnic variability and the effects of changing gender roles are discussed in this section. We next look at sexuality, traditional and non-traditional marriage, parenting, divorce, family violence, family economics, poverty, and family policy. Controversial issues dealt with include day care, welfare policy, and the "Family Values" debate.


Prof. Jean Jackson

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session




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