Spring 2022 - SA 331 D100

Politics of the Family (S) (4)

Class Number: 2738

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 11:20 AM
    AQ 5039, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Amanda Watson
    Office Hours: Thursday 1:30PM-2:30PM via Zoom
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



A sociological examination of the contested nature of contemporary domestic and intimate relations. The course will focus on debates arising from equality movement politics (e.g. gender, sexuality, race).


What makes a family? Whose families are afforded political and social inclusion and who is excluded on the basis of family illegibility? This course invites students to critically analyze the sociopolitical construction of families and the stakes involved for love and kinship across hierarchies of power. Topics include: care, gendered and racialized divisions of labour, home economics, legal and biomedical constructions of family, love and intimacy, colonial legacy, eugenics, homonationalism, assisted reproductive technologies, poverty, monogamy and nonmonogamy, parenting, norms of motherhood and fatherhood, and having kids in climate crisis, among others.


It is my aim that in completing this course, students will be comfortable:
• Explaining how “family issues” are constructed and variously embroiled in hierarchies of power with reference to critical sociological theories of family, kinship, and human and social reproduction.
• Interpreting complicated, nuanced, often ideologically incoherent representations of the family in law, medicine, science and technology, current affairs, popular culture, public education, and everyday life.
• Developing a critical notion of family that is informed by decolonial, queer, feminist sociological and political theory as well as personal experience.
• Debating and defending family needs and values with consideration of access to power and political framing of whose family’s needs are considered legitimate.
• Reflecting on notions of family in climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Reading Response 40%
  • Reflective Statement 10%
  • Leading Book Club 20%
  • Exams (x2) with Group and Individual Components 30%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



  • A computer
  • Internet connection (accessible on campus)
  • Microsoft Word (free to SFU students

Required Reading: Available through Canvas. Please bring the materials to class (hardcopy or digital).


All available through Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.