Graduate Sociology at UAlbany
Areas of Specialization: Sociology of Families
Sociology of Families is an area of major strength in the Department of Sociology. Many faculty members focus the majority of their research on families and several others pursue research issues related to families. The department offers numerous opportunities for students to develop their interests and to work with faculty on diverse topics related to the Sociology of Families. Faculty members routinely include graduate students in their research leading to jointly authored publications, and students are encouraged early to begin their own projects.
Faculty and graduate students working in this area address many issues concerning changing definitions and compositions of families and households. These include gendered paid and unpaid work roles, both heterosexual and gay/lesbian couple relationships, and parenthood, and the well-being of individuals over the life course from childhood to the older years. While most of our research focuses on contemporary American families, some is crossnational and historical. Faculty and graduate student dissertation research includes both qualitative interview studies and quantitative research based on surveys and available statistical data.
The quality of research and education offered in the Department of Sociology generally, and in the area of Sociology of Families specifically, makes the University at Albany an exciting place to pursue graduate studies. The graduate program in sociology is designed to provide a basic core of courses in theory, methods, and statistics, while allowing for specialization in Sociology of Families. Students may take relevant courses and may choose to focus on families for one of their specialization examinations at the doctoral level, as well as for their master’s thesis and dissertation topics. Course work relevant to this area is found throughout the curriculum; however, Sociology of Families is also the focus of the teaching of several faculty members with special expertise.
Families and Families-related courses in the Sociology Department
- Soc 560 Families
- Soc 665 Families and Households
- Soc 665 Children and Public Policy
- Soc 666 Work and Family
- Soc 640 Gender Inequality
- Soc 662 Sociology of Aging
- Soc 551 Demography
- Soc 553 Social Stratification
- Soc 575 Ethnicity and Race
- Soc 701 The American Welfare State in Comparative Perspective
- Various special topics courses offered by the sociology faculty
Students are also encouraged to take related courses offered outside the Sociology Department.
Other institutional resources:
Other institutional resources include two multidisciplinary research centers: The Center for Social and Demographic Analysis (CSDA) and the Institute for Research on Women (IROW). Both of these centers have affiliated faculty from sociology and other disciplines with research interests in families and house many useful resources for graduate students and faculty.
Titles of Dissertations Recently Completed or in Progress
The following lists of faculty and of recent dissertations by graduate students will provide you with a more detailed description of the research relating to families being pursued here at Albany.
- Modern Day Mary Poppins: Uncovering the Work of Nannies and the Expectations of Employers
- An Exploration of the Effects of Mid to Late-Life Parental Divorce
- Reconceptualizing Cohabitation: Commitment among Nonmarried Heterosexual Couples
- Doing Engagement: Couples and Commitment to Marriage
- Exploring a Culture of Intimacy: Individualism and Solidarity in Heterosexual Relationships
- Adult Grandchildren Providing Care to Frail Elderly Grandparents
- Intermarriage Patterns of New Immigrants
- Work Flexibility, Work Culture, and Gender
- Reciprocal Relationships Between Homeless Families and Their Informal Social Supports
- Determinants of Son Preference in India and Health Outcomes for Children
- The Relationship between Fertility and Union Type
- Lessons from the Office: The Implementation of Work-Family Policies
- “Making It” in America: Korean Immigrants in Small Business in the New York Metropolitan Area
- Child Well-Being in Cohabiting Homes: A Study of Outcomes and Processes
- Leisure Throughout the Trajectory of Motherhood: A Life Course Approach
Faculty in Sociology of Families
Ph.D. University of Chicago
Professor Brandon's research interests strive to identify connections between social policy and family well-being, broadly defined. He has strong interests in child care provision, vulnerable groups of children, especially immigrant children, children with disabilities, and children living in single-mother families. His other interests include showing the value of panel and time use data to gain insights into the burdens and barriers that parents confront when raising children with disabilities. Both his child care interests and focus on vulnerable populations of children overlap with his work on living arrangements and family diversity and change. Brandon’s work highlights the connections among parental work-family decisions, children’s well-being, change in household composition and structure, and public policies, especially welfare policies.
Ph.D. CUNY Graduate Center
Professor Dreby’s research interests are in children, gender and families, international migration, transnational processes, ethnographic and qualitative methods, and community studies. Her most recent study explores the ways two of the most salient features of contemporary immigration, legality and new destination settlement, affect the lives of children in Mexican families. Dr. Dreby has published on her previous study about Mexican transnational families in the book Divided by Borders: Mexican Migrants and their Children. She has also published on child-care safety. Dr. Dreby has a background in social services and Latin American studies. She is also especially interested in work family issues.
Ph.D. Indiana University
Professor Loscocco studies the connections between work and family lives. She has investigated the influence of family on many work-related outcomes, from job satisfaction to income. Professor Loscocco has also written on issues of work-family conflict from a life course perspective. Her current research examines the work-family nexus among self-employed women and men. She is also interested in how the interplay of culture and gender norms affects marital roles.
Scott J. South
Ph.D. University of Texas
Professor South's research in family sociology focuses primarily on patterns of family formation and dissolution. His recent studies have examined the effects of marriage market imbalances on marital and fertility behavior, the determinants of divorce, and the impact of migration and community context on adolescent behavior. He also studies racial and ethnic differences in geographic mobility and neighborhood attainment.
Ph.D. University of Illinois
Professor Spitze's research interests include gender and families, intergenerational relations, and paid/ unpaid labor. She is co-author (with John Logan) of Family Ties: Enduring Relations Between Parents and Their Grown Children (winner of the 1997 Goode Distinguished Book Award). Her current work focuses on family divisions of paid and unpaid labor, sibling relations, relationships between older parents and adult children, and the role of personal networks in older adults’ health outcomes. She holds a joint appointment in Women’s Studies.
Ph.D. New York University
Professor Strully’s research focuses on health, class, and social policy within family contexts. Past work has focused on how low birth weight is related to inter-generational inheritance of socio-economic status and health in families. Related work has used the case of low birth weight to examine how U.S. welfare policies may be revised to more effectively target children who face the double jeopardy of poor health and poverty. Recent work examines how the Earned Income Tax Credit affects parents’ investments in children’s health.
Ph.D. University of Texas
Professor Trent’s research in families focuses on the causes and consequences of family size and structure, and how the social structural features of populations affect family-related behaviors. Her work examines fertility and reproductive behavior, family attitudes and behavior, family structure and well-being, and sex ratios and family behaviors. Her research focuses on families and households in the United States, cross-nationally, and in other countries such as China and India.
Russell A. Ward
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin
Professor Ward has interests in the sociology of aging that include family issues. His research has investigated implications of social networks, including family, for well-being and access to services. Focusing on marital and inter-generational relations in middle and later life, he has studied effects on marital happiness of relations with adult children and parents, and of retirement and the division of household labor. Other research has investigated antecedents and consequences of coresidence by adult children and their parents, and patterns of intergenerational exchange between parents and adult children.