The Contemporary American Family

Same-sex couple married in Boston (May 20, 2004).

Same-sex couple Drew Dionisio, left, and Brandon Clark, both of Marblehead, MA are married at the Arlington Street Church in Boston (May 20, 2004). In November of 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo courtesy of Dan Bersak.)


MIT Course Number

21A.230J / WGS.456J

As Taught In

Spring 2004



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

We begin by considering briefly the evolution of the family, its cross-cultural variability, and its history in the West. We next examine how the family is currently defined in the U.S., discussing different views about what families should look like. Class and ethnic variability and the effects of changing gender roles are discussed in this section. We next look at sexuality, traditional and non-traditional marriage, parenting, divorce, family violence, family economics, poverty, and family policy. Controversial issues dealt with include day care, welfare policy, and the "Family Values" debate.

Related Content

Jean Jackson. 21A.230J The Contemporary American Family. Spring 2004. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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