In an ideal sense, the family is the firm bedrock upon which society rests. Historically, it has functioned as a social institution that hosts procreation and provides the physical, financial and emotional needs of individuals. For many, the family is the primary agent of socialization that introduces our culture and the world around us. It shapes our world view and solidifies our sense of self.
Contrary to the Standard North American Family (SNAF), families are uniquely diverse; though many families resemble others in their makeup and the traditional functions that they provide, others are continually evolving. Some individuals experience their families as havens of emotional and/or physical violence. They might experience it as an obstacle to endure, while others may secretly question the meaning and relevance of family until they are able to create meaningful fictive kinships that serve as nurturing and satisfying family systems. Stratification impacts families; patriarchy, racism, poverty, and immigration status all have lifelong and cyclical effects collectively and individually.
The mission of the SSSP Family Division is threefold; to, 1) promote and increase the understanding of family life, the effects of stratification, and respect for diverse family systems; 2) encourage research in the global study of family life, to produce knowledge and discourse that can lead to policies and programs that enhance family life in its myriad forms; and, 3) provide resources and opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student involvement for the purpose of developing family researchers.

Division mission statement reviewed in November 2023 by Monnica Gavin, Clark State College, Family Division Co-Chair, 2022-2024 and Tia Dickerson, Howard University, Family Division Co-Chair, 2023-2025. No edits were made. Division mission statement reviewed in November 2022 by Amanda Catherine Ferraro, University of Oklahoma, Family Division Co-Chair, 2021-2023 and Monnica Gavin, Clark State College, Family Division Co-Chair, 2022-2024. No edits were made. Division mission statement edited in November 2020 by Emmie Cochran-Jackson, Georgia Gwinnett College, Family Division Co-Chair, 2020-2022.

Some Readings:


  1. Roberts, D. (2002). “Is adoption the answer?” In Shattered bonds: The color of child welfare (pp. 149-172). New York: Basic Books.
  2. Jones, B. J. (2014). “Differing concepts of permanency: The Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act.” In M. L. M. Fletcher, W. T. Single, & K. E. Fort (Eds.), Facing the Future: Indian Child Welfare Act at 30 (pp. 127-147). East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.
  3. Butler-Sweet, C. (2012). “A healthy Black identity: Transracial adoption, middle-class families, and racial socialization.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 42 (2), 193-212.
  4. Raleigh, E. (2012). “Are same-sex and single adoptive parents more likely to adopt transracially? A national analysis of race, family structure, and the adoption marketplace.” Sociological Forum 55 (3), 449-471.
  5. Siegel, D. H. (2013). “Open adoption: Adoptive parents’ reactions two decades later.” Social Work 58 (1), 43-52.
  6. Berge, J. M., Mendenhall, T. J., Wrobel, G. M., Grotevant, H. D., & McRoy, R. G. (2006). “Adolescents’ feelings about openness in adoption: Implications for adoption agencies.” Child Welfare 6, 1011-1039.

Black Parents/Families

  1. Bowser, B. P. (2007). The black middle class: Social mobility and vulnerability. Boulder, CO: Rienner Publishers.
  2. Days, G. (2017). Collapse of the african american family. Pittsburgh, PA: Dorrance Publishing.
  3. Graham, L. O. (2000). Our kind of people: Inside America’s black upper class. New York: HarperCollins.
  4. Lacy, K. R. (2007). Blue-chip black: Race, class, and status in the new black middle class. Los Angeles: UCLA Press.
  5. Hattery, A. J., & Smith, E. (2012). African american families today: Myths and realities. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Collective Parenting

  1. Roberts, D. (2002). “The system’s inferior treatment of Black children.” In Shattered bonds: The color of child welfare (pp. 10-25). New York: Basic Books.
  2. Pittman, L. (2014). “Doing what’s right for the baby: Parental responses and custodial grandmothers’ institutional decision making.” Women, Gender, & Families of Color, 2, (1), 32-56.
  3. Sands, R., Goldberg-Glen, R. S., & Shin, H. (2009). “The voices of grandchildren of grandparent caregivers: A strengths-resilience perspective.” Child Welfare, 88 (2), 25-45.
  4. Dreby, J. (2006). “Honor and virtue: Mexican parenting in the transnational context.” Gender & Society, 20 (1), 32-59.
  5. Ruiz, D. S., & Kopak, A. (2014). “The consequences of parental incarceration for African American mothers and children and grandparent caregivers.” The Journal of Pan African Studies, 7 (6), 9-24.


  1. Black, T., & Keyes, S. (2021). It’s a set-up: Fathering from the economic and social margins. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Clayton, O., Mincy, R. B., & Blankenthorn, D. (Eds.). (2003). Black fathers in contemporary American society: Strengths, weaknesses, and strategies for change. New York: Sage Publishing.
  3. Coles, R. (2009). “Fathering daughters and sons.” In The best kept secret: Single Black fathers (pp. 63-82). Lanham, MD: Rowman Littlefield Publishers.
  4. Daniels, C. R. (1998). Lost fathers: The politics of fatherlessness in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  5. Edin, K., & Nelson, T. (2013). “Ward Cleaver.” In Doing the best I can: Fatherhood in the inner city (pp. 103-129). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Gender Variance

  1. Averett, K. A. (2016). “The gender buffet: LGBTQ parents resisting heteronormativity.” Gender & Society, 30 (2), 189-212.
  2. Rahilly, E. (2015). “The gender binary meets the gender variant child.” Gender & Society, 29 (3), 338-361.
  3. Davis, G. (2016). “A different kind of information.” In Contesting intersex: The dubious diagnosis (pp. 116-144). New York: New York University Press.
  4. Pfeffer, C. (2012). “Normative resistance and inventive pragmatism: Negotiating structure and agency in transgender families.” Gender & Society, 26 (4), 574-602.
  5. Bornstein, K. (1998). “Hoowahyoo?” Retrieved from

How to Make a Baby?

  1. Martin, E. (1991). “The egg and the sperm: How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles.” Signs, 16 (3), 485-501.
  2. Twine, F. W. (2011). “The industrial womb.” In Outsourcing the womb: Race, class, and gestational surrogacy in the global labor market (pp.. 1-12). New York: Routledge.
  3. Almeling, R. (2011). “Being a paid donor.” In Sex cells: The medical market for eggs and sperm (pp. 110-140). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  4. Zsuzsa, B. (2012). “The romance of surrogacy.” Sociological Forum 27 (4), 913-936.
  5. Blake, L., Carone, N., Slutsky, J., Rafanello, E., Erhardt, A. A., & Golombok, S. (2016). “Gay father surrogacies families: Relationships with surrogacy and egg donors and parental disclosure of children’s origin.” Fertility and Sterility 106 (6), 0015-0282.
  6. Twine, F. W. (2011). “Becoming a gestational surrogate.” In Outsourcing the womb: Race, class, and gestational surrogacy in the global labor market (pp.21-29). New York: Routledge.
  7. Flavin, J. (2010). “Breeders: The right to procreate.” In Our bodies, our crimes: The policing of women’s reproduction in America (pp. 29-50). New York: New York University Press.


  1. Griffith, A. I., & Smith, D. E. (2013). Mothering for schooling. New York: Routledge.

Parenting Outside the Nuclear Family

  1. Kaufman, G. (2013). “Single superdads.” In SuperDads: How fathers balance work and family in the 21st Century (pp. 172-194). New York. New York University Press.
  2. Hansen, K. V. (2005). Not-so-nuclear families: Class, gender, and networks of care. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  3. Markham, M. S., & Coleman, M. (2012). “The good, the bad and the ugly: Divorced mothers’ experiences with co-parenting.” Family Relations, 61 (4), 586-600.
  4. Russell, L., Beckmeyer, J., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2016). “Perceived barriers to post-divorce co-parenting: Differences between men and women and associations with co-parenting behaviors.” Family Relations, 65, 450-461.
  5. Layne, L. (2015). “‘I have a fear of really screwing it up’: The fears doubts, anxieties and judgements of one American single mother by choice.” Journal of Family Issues, 36 (9), 1154-1170.
  6. Nixon, E., Green, S., & Hogan, D. (2012). “Negotiating relationships in single-mother households: Perspectives of children and mothers.” Family Relations, 61, 142-156.

Plural Intimacies/Nonmonogamy

  1. Iturriaga, N., & and Saguay, A. (2017). “I would never want to be an only wife: The role of discursive networks and post-feminist discourse in reframing polygamy.” Social Problems, 64, 333-350.
  2. Sheff, E. (2005). “Polyamorous women, sexual subjectivity and power.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 34 (3), 251-283.
  3. Vaillancourt, K. T., & Few-Demo, A. L. (2014). “Relational dynamics of swinging relationships: An exploratory study.” The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 22 (3), 311-320.
  4. Wolkomir, M. (2015). “One but not the only: Reconfiguring intimacy in multiple partner relationships.” Qualitative Sociology, 38, 417-438.
  5. Muraco, A. (2012). “We are family.” In Odd couples: Friendships at the intersection of gender and sexual orientation (pp. 56-77). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


  1. Rehel, E. M. (2014). “When dads stay home too: Paternity leave, gender, and parenting.” Gender & Society, 28 (1), 110-132.
  2. Trost, B. C. (2009). “Mothering from prison: Using narratives in a mother-child support program.” Journal of Family and Consumer Services, 101 (3), 32-38.
  3. Pittman, L. (2015). “How well does the ‘safety net’ work for family safety nets? Economic survival strategies among grandmother caregivers in severe deprivation.” The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 1 (1), 78-97.
  4. Jones, L. P. (2014). “Former foster youth’s perspectives on independent living preparation six months after discharge.” Child Welfare, 93 (1), 99-126.
  5. Dolan, J. H., & Grotevant, H. D. (2014). “The treehouse community: An innovative intergenerational model for supporting youth who have experienced foster care.” Child Welfare, 93 (4), 7-23.
  6. Cahill, S. (2009). “The disproportionate impact of anti-gay family policies on Black and Latino same-sex couples.” Journal of African American Studies, 13 (2), 219-250.
  7. Randles, J. (2014). “Partnering and parenting in poverty: A qualitative analysis of a relationship skills program for low-income, unmarried families.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33 (2), 385-412.

Race, Class, Ethnicity

  1. Rubin, L. B. (1994). Families on the fault line: America’s working class speaks about the family, the economy, race, and ethnicity. New York: HarperCollins.
  2. Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Press.
  3. Edin, K., & Kefalas, M. (2005). Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Press.

Same-Sex (Gay and Lesbian) Parenting

  1. Butterfield, J., & Padavic, I. (2014). “The impact of legal inequality on relational power in planned lesbian families.” Gender & Society, 28 (5), 752-774.
  2. Ryan, M., & Moras, A. (2016). “Race matters in lesbian donor insemination: Whiteness and heteronormativity as co-constituted narratives.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40 (4), 579-596.
  3. Martin, K. A., Hutson, D. J., Kazyak, E., & Scherrer, K. S. (2010). “Advice when children come out: The cultural “tool kit” of parents.” Journal of Family Issues, 31 (7), 960-991.
  4. Sasnett, S. (2015). “Are the kids alright? A qualitative study of adults with gay and lesbian parents.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 44 (2), 196-222.