Sociology of Marriage and Family: Relationships, Intimacy & Commitment

I.     Course Prefix/Number: SOC 104

       Course Name: Sociology of Marriage and Family: Relationships, Intimacy & Commitment

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Recommended: SOC 101

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course explores broad survey of issues related to marriage and family in contemporary society.  Content includes nature of relationships and intimacy; love, dating, courtship, cohabitation, marriage and its alternatives, childbirth and parenting, and crisis faced in intimate relationships such as divorce and family violence. IAI S7 902

IV.   Learning Objectives

General education objectives
The student will:
  1. gather and analyze social science data using appropriate research methods, e.g. observations, surveys, and/or secondary analysis, and use theory to interpret these social science data.
  2. critically read sociological materials in order to compare and evaluate alternative explanations of social behavior.
  3. communicate sociological research and theory effectively in written assignments
Course objectives
The student will:
  1. apply functional, conflict, and symbolic-interactionism theoretical perspectives to family and marriage.
  2. identify social factors that contribute to the emergence of problems within marriage and families.
  3. compare and evaluate alternative patterns of marriage and family life.
  4. explain how marriage and families change over time and vary by culture, including how they are influenced by broader social, political, and economic forces.
  5. assess how change within social institutions, structures, and societies produces change in intimate relationships relating to gender, love and intimacy, sex and sexualities, and/or communication, power, and conflict.
  6. assess how structures of inequality within society, such as wealth and poverty, race and ethnicity, and/or sex and gender discrimination, are linked to a wide range of social problems within marriage and families.
  7. compare and evaluate different societal responses to the problems of family and marriage discussed in class such as divorce, single-parenthood, family violence, sexual abuse, childcare, and/or child support.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Exploring Relationships
    1. Studying marriage and family
    2. Becoming men and women
    3. Sex before marriage
  2. Decisions About Marriage
    1. Striking a marriage bargain
    2. Alternatives to marriage
  3. Structure and Process in Marriage
    1. The structure of marriage
    2. Process in marriage: expressiveness
    3. Process in marriage: power, negotiation, and conflict
  4. Children
    1. Reproduction
    2. Socializing children for achievement
  5. Continuing processes of Marital Relationships
    1. The ongoing and undoing of marriages
    2. The future of the family and marriage

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Methods of presentation include lectures, class discussion, films, guest speakers, and various classroom exercises to analyze and understand marriage and the family.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Reading: weekly reading assignments from an assigned text; supplemental readings from outside sources are encouraged.
  2. Writing: students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded. This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.
  3. Attendance and Participation: Students are expected to attend class regularly and to participate while in class. Participation is reflected in a student’s overall preparedness and involvement in class discussions. Good participation can also mean facilitating the contributions of others, not just dominating the discussion. Students are expected to listen carefully to others, ask questions, and share ideas.
  4. Tests: students will be required to take a minimum of 2 exams during the term.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Representative texts may include:
Conley, Dalton (2004). The Pecking Order: A Bold New Look at how Family and Society Determine Who We Become. Random House.

Benokraitis, Nijole V. (2011). Marriages and Families: Changes, Choices, and Constraints (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.

Various supplementary readings from the disciplines.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

  1. Quizzes and tests
  2. Written work, such as a term paper or several short papers and/or interviews or other projects of a written nature
  3. Classroom participation, such as listening, sharing experiences, relating the course materials to the world around him/her

XI.   Other Course Information

Students are strongly encouraged to use the full range of student support facilities available at Oakton, including Instructional Support Services.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.