Alpha Kappa Delta
      The International Sociology Honor Society      
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Distinguished Lecture

Many thanks to Alpha Kappa Delta's 2015 Distinguished Lecturer

Dr. Brian Powell

Indiana University
Past Vice President, ASA





“Changing Counts, Counting Change: Toward a More Inclusive Definition of Family”

Public and academic discourse regarding the meaning of family has grown both in frequency and intensity in the past few years. The language typically used to describe “family” (or “the family”) increasingly has been contested in social scientific scholarship and contemporary politics.  Some lament what they see as the weakening, or even destruction, of the family, while others embrace the increasing diversity of new family forms. These changes and, in turn, how families are defined have far-reaching policy implications.  It therefore is puzzling that we have known so little about how the public sets boundaries between “families” and “non-families.”

Brian Powell presented results of a U.S.-based study in which over 2200 adults were interviewed about their stances regarding same-sex couples, cohabiting couples, gay marriage, gay adoption, and, most importantly, what counts as family. In examining how Americans are making sense of, and in some cases reevaluating, changes in living arrangements in the United States, Powell made predictions regarding the likely changes in Americans’ definitions over the next decade.  He also discussed the potential implications of recent Supreme Court decisions and state-level legislative responses to these decisions.


Alpha Kappa Delta Distinguished Lecturers throughout the years:

2014   Dr. Cecilia Ridgeway, Stanford University, "How Does Gender Inequality Persist in the Modern World?"
2013   Dr. Teresa Sullivan, University of Virginia, "Greedy Institutions"
2012   Dr. David Takeuchi, University of Washington, "Bringing Boundaries to Reach Real Utopias"
2011   Dr. Frances Fox Piven, CUNY Graduate Center, "The Resurgence of Corporate Power in the United States and the
  Implications for Democracy as We Know It"
2010   Dr. Michael Messner, University of South California, "Stopping Gender Violence: Two Generations of Male Activists"
2009   Dr. Cecilia Menjivar, Arizona State University, "Immigration, Citizenship, and Exclusion: Latin-American Immigrants and
  the Contemporary Regime"