Families in Crisis – the changing balance of power between men and women

Course content

This innovative course focuses on the major transformations in contemporary family relationships and parenting since the mid-twentieth century. First we move beyond rhetorical statements about the past from the viewpoint of the present, to compare family life and parenting practices across time and in different state societies. Second, we explore relationships between paid work and family life, integrating different sociological perspectives on changing femininities and masculinities. Third, we critically examine debates about the transformation of intimacy by focusing on the lust balance, the balance between the longing for sexual gratification and the longing for enduring intimacy. Fourth, we discuss intergenerational relations by looking at why young children have tended be excluded from debates about changes in family structure. Finally we propose a synthesis that is long-term, relational and comparative, based on changes in the balance of power between men and women.


BA and MA

MSc Curriculum 2005 and BA Curriculun 2005

Specialiseringslinje: Kultursociologi


Learning outcome


By the end of the course students will have developed knowledge to

- critically discuss the major theoretical perspectives that can be used to explain changes in contemporary family relationships



Students will learn to

- Evaluate sociological debates about families

- discuss the 'family' as a central organising concept that addresses personal, public and political concerns.



By the end of the course students will be able to

- Take responsibility and structure their own academic learning

A combination of interactive lectures and student-led discussions. My aim is to inspire students so that they begin to ask challenging questions about the content of the course. I strongly encourage students to think about and share their experiences with one another, illustrating through concrete examples the application of theoretical concepts and their relevance to different societies.

  1. 1) R. Edwards and V. Gillies (2012) Farewell to family? Notes on an argument for retaining the concept Families, Relationships and Societies, 1, 1: 63–9

    2) A. Giddens, (1992) The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies, Cambridge: Polity Press

    3) J. Brannen (2004) Childhoods Across the Generations: Stories from women in four-generation English families, Childhood vol. 11, 4: 409-428

    4) R. Simpson, J. Hughes, N. Slutskaya and M. Balta, Sacrifice and distinction in dirty work: men’s construction of meaning in the butcher trade, Work, Employment and Society, published online 7 March 2014, pp.1-17

    5) J. R. McCarthy (2012) The powerful relational language of ‘family’: togetherness, belonging and personhood,

    The Sociological Review, 60, 1: 68-90

    6) N. Elias (2009), The changing balance of power between the sexes – a process sociological study: the example of the Ancient Roman state, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities, Collected Works, vol. 16, Dublin: UCD: pp.240-265  

Dette kursus har adgangsbegrænsninger. Kurset vil som udgangspunkt ikke blive udbudt igen. Du kan således ikke planlægge efter, at det udbydes i senere semestre, end hvad der fremgår af denne kursusbeskrivelse.

Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual/group. Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 6 pages. For group assignments, an extra 3 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 15
  • Preparation
  • 61,25
  • Exam Preparation
  • 61,25
  • English
  • 137,50