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.

Faculty in Sociology of Families: Brandon, Dreby, Loscocco, South, Spitze, Strully, Trent, Ward, Gubernskaya

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


-March 2012