Sociology of the family examines the family as an institution and a unit of socialization through various sociological perspectives. The sociology of the family is a common component on introductory and pre-university academic curricula, as it is perhaps the simplest institution to which one may apply many fundamental sociological approaches.
Family And Culture
Within the study of the family, one area that sociologists examine is the cultural factors that shape family structures and family processes. For example, how gender, age, sex, race, and ethnicity influence different family structures and the practices within each family. They also look at the demographic characteristics of family members across and within cultures and they have changed over time.
Another area studied under the sociology of the family is relationships. This includes the stages of coupling (courtship, cohabitation, engagement, and marriage), relationships between husbands and wives through time, and parenting. The topic of parenting is a large one and includes things such as the socialization of children, the father role, the mother role, single parenting, adoption and foster parenting, and the son/daughter role.
Alternative Family Forms
Alternative family forms and singlehood are other topics examined under the sociology of the family. For example, many sociologists study the roles and influence of family members beyond the nuclear family, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and surrogate kin. Marital disunions are also studied, particularly as divorce rates have risen over the past several decades.
Family Systems And Other Institutions
Sociologists who study the family also look at how other institutions affect and are affected by family systems. For instance, how is the family affected by religion and how is religion influence by the family? Likewise, how is the family affected by work, education, politics, mass media, etc. and how are each of these institutions affected by the family?