SOC 4050/5050

Time and Place: MTWR 12:50-3:10, PH 319
Instructor: J. Brandon Wallace, Ph.D.
Instructor's Office, Phone, and Email: TODD 330, 898-5976,
Office Hours: By appointment.

It is the responsibility of each student to read and understand this syllabus. It acts as an implicit contract between the student and the instructor specifying the rights and responsibilities of each. Be sure to clarify any questions you may have about the syllabus as soon as possible.


SOC 4050/5050 is an upper level course focusing on sociological approaches to the study of families.  The family is presented as a social institution situated within broader historical, cultural, and societal contexts.  The course is not a "how to" course.  Rather, its approach is scholarly and scientific, offering a summary of the theoretical and empirical work on families, emphasizing contemporary trends and patterns.  Class time will be divided between lecture and student-led discussions of assigned readings.  Questions and comments are always welcomed. Students are expected to be courteous and respectful of other persons and opinions. While it is not required that you agree with the material presented in class, you should be able to indicate an understanding of the material on exams.


The required text for the course is Families and Society: Classic and Contemporary Readings, Scott Coltrane, Editor.  Other readings may be distributed in class or made available via the Internet.


Students are expected to complete assigned readings, attend class, participate in classroom discussions, and take good notes. 

There will be three in-class essay exams in which students will choose and answer two questions.  Students will have approximately 1 hour to write their answers.  Each exam is worth 100 points. 

Students will be required to write 2-3 page summary of 6 articles from the assigned readings and lead the class in a discussion of each of these articles.  Article assignments will be made the second day of class, with each student being assigned no more than two articles from any one section of the course outline.  Students are encouraged to identify one or two articles in each section that they might be interested in summarizing and presenting before the second class meeting.  The summary papers and presentations will be due the day the topic to which the article relates is addressed in class.  A list of articles associated with each section of the course outline along with an approximate date the article summary and presentation will be due may be accessed at  Each article summary and presentation is worth 50 points. 

Students taking the class for graduate credit will be required to read a book assigned by the professor, write a 5-10 page summary and critique of the book, and present the summary and critique to the class on July 5.  Suggested books include Families on the Fault Line by Lillian Rubin, The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz, The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild, and Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau.  Other books may be chosen but must be approved by the professor.  The paper and presentation are worth 200 points.


A total of 600 points are possible (800 for graduate students). Each student's point total will be divided by 6 (8 for graduate students) to yield a percentage score. Grades will be assigned according to the following scale: 90-100%=A, 87-89%=B+, 83-86%=B, 80-82%=B-, 77-79%=C+, 73-76%=C, 70-72%=C-, 67-69%=D+, 63-66%=D, and 60-62%=D-.  Below 60% is failing.


Copying someone's work, having someone complete assignments for you, and claiming another's written work as your own (plagiarism) will be considered cheating. Students engaging in such acts will not only fail the assignment in question, but may fail the course as well. Further, the professor may choose to report such actions to appropriate university officials (See the Student Handbook). Students should be certain that all work claimed as original is indeed the student's on work.


Students with special needs certified by the Disabled Student Services should see the instructor the first week of class to discuss arrangements to meet these needs.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at MTSU hosts an Undergraduate Social Science Symposium each Fall to give undergraduate students an opportunity to present papers and/or research they have done in conjunction with various social science classes. I encourage you to consider participating as a presenter. Please contact Professor Ben Austin (, 898-2690, PH 361) if you are interested.

Additional information of interest to sociology students, majors, and minors is available on the Department of Sociology and Anthropology web page at