Faculty and students who work in this area aim to understand the interplay between aging and the life course, family relationships, and changing social structures. A key question in this area is how broader structures of inequality (e.g. race, class, gender, period, place) shape how our individual and interpersonal lives play out. Through diverse methods, including in-depth interviewing, comparative, and quantitative approaches, scholars in this area both describe and explain these relationships, and their work yields implications for public policy, professional practice, and individual well-being. Courses and seminars in this area include families and inequality, families and public policy, social policies for aging societies, families and crime, sociology of death and dying, and life course sociology, among others.
The family is an important institution that is both embedded within and constitutive of broader structures of inequality. Scholars in this subfield examine stratification within and between families (e.g. by gender, race, social class, marital status), the micro and macro forces shaping family formation and family functioning, and how family behavior in turn shapes larger patterns of stratification.
Scholars in this subfield examine aging over the life course as a social process. Research projects examine how social context and interpersonal relationships shape health and happiness across life course periods.