Sociology of Family and Life Course

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course provides a general analysis of family changes and biographical paths at political, social, cultural and demographic level in the last decades. Then the course will target in particular two factors of family change: the first linked to the social policies, the second linked to the relational aspects. Demographic changes (ageing population, low fertility) and increasing in marital instability have changed households composition posing new challenges for policy interventions. As communication has become increasingly important with globalization, focusing the attention on social network use could facilitate an understanding of emotional changes. Social network use is often seen as responsible for interpersonal, emotional or relational decommitment. The aim of the course is to provide analytical tools and educational skills useful to recognize the origins and causes of modernization processes at family and emotional level. These tools and skills may be useful in some professional activities in the field of social research, communication, journalism and social organizations.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course students should have developed knowledge and understanding of the family changing processes and of the social, political, demographic and cultural factors involved; Knowledge and understanding of relational changing in partnership and among generations; Applying knowledge and understanding of the long-term effects of changing on household. Autonomy of judgement, and students' communicative capabilities will be developed by reading of scientific articles and discussions during the lessons. The final exam aims to verify the expected learning outcomes in respect to the students' capacity of understanding, applying knowledge, developing a critical analysis of the theoretical perspectives introduced by the course.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
The lessons will be held mainly in asynchronous (videolessons) and some lessons in videoconference using the Microsoft Teams platform (about every 15 days). All lessons will be recorded and made available on the "Course material" directory. Students who want to attend the course should participate in the "2020-2021 - Affective relationships, families and life courses - Sociology of the family and life courses" team by typing the code made available on the course home page on the Ariel platform.
Course syllabus
The course programme is divided into two modules. The first module focuses on the evolution of household in Europe with particular reference to Italy. It examines the transformations in family behaviour starting from the second half of the last century, linking them to the second demographic transition. Specifically, the lessons of the first module addresses the following topics: the The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure studies and the process of nuclearisation of the European family; marriage patterns in European history; the process of nuclearisation of the Italian family and the household regional differences; the second demographic transition and changes in family behaviour; fertility trends; marriage and divorce; cohabitation.
The second module focuses on changes in the late modernity of family, emotional and sexual relationships. With regard to the change in family relationships, the following topics are addressed during the lessons: the relationships between family members as a consequence of demographic changes in recent decades (ageing population and low fertility); the role of women in the family solidarity network. Concerning the change in the sentimental and sexual environment, the lessons focus on the transformation of courtship and partner choice behaviour; gender differences in sentimental engagement; and the consequences of the affirmation of consumer culture on eroticism and sexual desire.
Prerequisites for admission
No specific knowledge is required to attend the course.
Teaching methods
The asynchronous lessons of short duration (about 60 minutes each) made available on the Microsoft Teams platform during class hours, will deal with all the topics covered by the program from time to time. Lessons will be integrated with the screening of documentaries about the Italian family and with the reading of essays and articles. Modalities to access this material will be inserted from time to time on the Ariel platform. During the lessons in synchronous mode students will be asked to discuss and comment this material in the light of the interpretative tool acquired.
Teaching Resources
Santoro M., Conoscere la famiglia e i suoi cambiamenti, Carocci, Roma, 2013
A text of students' choice between:
- Illouz E., Perché l'amore fa soffrire, il Mulino, Bologna, 2013.
- Santoro M., Le libere unioni in Italia, Carocci, Roma, 2012
For attending students during the lessons the necessary bibliography will be provided to deepen the specific topics dealt with.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination will take place online in oral form using the Microsoft Teams platform. The assessment will take into account the ability to critically address the programme topics, to understand the evolution of family behaviour in Italy over the last two centuries and the demographic and family changes in Europe in recent decades.
Attending students can choose to produce a written essay on a specific topic agreed with the course professor. This work will be discussed during the oral examination and, if its assessment receives a good evaluation, will complement the final exam mark.
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Santoro Monica