The Study of Family


We begin our journey of studying the family by looking at the definition of family. Then we dive into the historical changes of family and examine family variations. Family has changed over the decades of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st century. We will also examine why theory should be applied to family, how it is applied, and look at our first theory: structural- functionalism.


Upon completion of the Module, the student will be able to

  1. Articulate and illustrate the cultural social and historical influences on the definition of family (CLO2)
  2. Apply structural-functionalism to family (CLO1)
  3. Compare families across cultures and societies. (CLO3)
  4. Reflect and apply class knowledge to everyday life and personal lives. (CLO6)


After reading the articles assigned for the week in your Ferguson text, fully answer the questions asked on each article. Each unit, you are required to post to ALL discussion prompts but only one peer post per unit is required. You must post first before you will see other classmate’s postings.

Topic 1: “The family in question: What is family? Is it universal?”

The author argues that most family studies have focused on a functionalist definition of family where the unit is seen as fulfilling certain needs of society. What is the author saying about the current definition of the family? What is the issue with the current definition or is there one? Explain. What is your definition of the family and why? Is family universal? Why or why not?

Topic 2: “LGBTQ Families”

How are LGBTQ families constructed? Why are some forms of family so threatening to other groups? How are various forms of family beneficial to society?

Topic 3: “Historical perspectives on family diversity”

How did our commercial and industrial economy cause changes in the family? What effect did the Great Depression and WWII have on family? How did Native Americans, African Americans, and European families differ?