Sociology | Social Problems and Policies. Topic: Gender, Work, Family
S101 | 9552 | Walters

11:15AM-12:30PM 	MW  SW 007

Men's and women's responsibilities used to be clear: men took care
of work; women took care of the family. Rapid social changes in the
U.S. have largely consigned this "traditional family" to the dustbin
of history, but new, workable models have not yet emerged for both
women and men to combine work and family responsibilities. At
present many adults experience conflicts between work and families,
and in many families there are conflicts, sometimes intense ones,
between the division of work and family responsibilities.

These dilemmas that many adults now experience have their roots in
three sweeping social changes that America has experienced since the
end of World War II: the decline of the proportion of families that
consist of a husband, wife, and dependent children; rapid increases
in divorce; and the entry of massive numbers of married women into
the paid labor force. This course will focus on both the large-scale
social changes and the problems that individual men and women
encounter in their attempts to reconcile the tensions between work
and family in their everyday lives. Despite the focus on women of
most of the popular discussion of the "problem" of managing work and
family, the changing relationship between work and family affects
men every bit as much as women.

A central argument of the course is that changes in the institutions
of the family and the workplace are interrelated, and thus that the
institutions cannot be analyzed in isolation from each other.
Divorce, for example, often propels previously-unemployed women into
the workforce, and some scholars believe that one reason more
married women work now than in the past is that employment is a
hedge—an insurance policy, if you will—against the possibility of
future divorce (according to some estimates, over 50% of women who
divorce end up living below the poverty line for some period of
time). We will explore the interrelationships between the
institutions of work and family by, for example, examining how the
organization of family life (including the gender-based division of
labor in the home, the range of available child-care arrangements,
social services to the family, and the like) is affected by and in
turn affects the organization of the workplace (such as the location
of work, the average hours of work, sex segregation of the
workforce, gender inequality in pay, the availability of part-time
employment, the availability of employer-provided family benefits,
and the like). We will also describe and analyze the ways in which
public policy and private employers have tried to modify the work-
family linkage – for example, employers’ experiments with "family-
friendly" policies and government mandates for unpaid family leave.