the topic: Are the contemporary American families in “crisis” or are they simply changing? The purpose of this assignment is to examine how families are portrayed in the media and to compare these images to the theories and findings considered in our course material. For this assignment, you will conduct a content analysis of a number of TV programs or movies. A “content analysis” uses popular materials as data and interprets the patterns observed in the data to discover its social meaning. For this assignment, you will analyze popular materials to make an argument or present a point of view about the issue of family “crisis” and change.Our study of the family will look for both explicit and implicit assumptions about central issues regarding family life (e.g. marriage, divorce, parenting, living on welfare, teen pregnancy, family violence, child care, same sex relationships, etc.). Your paper will analyze the views about family life that are embedded in these popular materials and the implications of these views. To do this assignment, imagine what you would be able to say about contemporary families if you only knew what you observed for this assignment. Analyze these images of families in light of our course readings, lectures and discussions. When selecting what you will observe, make sure that there is content related to families. You should observe at least ONE of the following
:10 TV programs (1/2 or 1 hour shows; “reality” or fictional shows)
or 5 moviesPlease document all of your sources, including dates and times and titles. You do not need to submit your notes. What you are looking for
:Family structure: what kind of family is portrayed? In what way is it portrayed? Are there assumptions about the “correct” family structure?
Roles: what roles do different family members play (e.g. gender roles, roles for children and parents, etc.)? What are the assumptions about the roles people will play? Is there any conflict in these roles?Problems and Issues: what are the central problems and issues facing these families? Are there conflicts or tensions? What is the basis of the conflict or tension? Does the conflict get resolved? If so, how?Imagery: how is the content presented (e.g. tone, style of words, sound, location, etc.)? What do we feel about families after the observation?Perspective: What is the perspective being assumed? What message is being made about families today? What rhetoric do you observe about American families? What purpose does rhetoric about family life serve? Interpretations:Your paper should be organized according to the subheadings listed above. Don’t forget an introduction and conclusion that ties your ideas together, a thesis that makes a particular argument about what you found, and appropriate transitions between sections of your paper. Think about the following questions: what did you discover about the images of family that are projected today (including family structure, roles, problems and issues, imagery and perspective)? Based on your analysis, would you say that American families are in “crisis” or are they changing in ways that do not indicate a “crisis?” If you were an alien who didn’t know anything about American family life and these images were all you had to consider, what would you conclude about American families today? Your main task is to document the patterns that you observe and to discuss the implications of these patterns. Be sure that you give specific examples from your observations to illustrate the kinds of patterns you saw. Finally, how would the authors of our readings critique the images of family that you observe? Interpret your results in light of our course readings. What would our authors say if they had done this study themselves? (It would be best if you integrated this into your paper rather than making this a separate section.) In other words, refer back to your readings and/or lectures as you conduct your analysis of the patterns that you see in the films or TV shows. Organizing Your Paper:In your presentation of your research results, you should organize your paper with the following subheadings: family structure, roles, problems and issues, imagery and perspective. In each section, describe your overall findings and then give some examples from what you watched. Also, be sure that you refer to our course materials. You also need to draw some conclusions about the implications of your findings for how we think about family crisis and change.Do not just summarize the plot of the films or TV shows. Provide only enough information to illustrate your examples. This is NOT a book-report style of paper. This assignment asks you to develop your analysis and interpretations of those sources of data. Your data are the TV shows or films. Provide a summary of your results, give specific examples, and explain what implications we can draw from what you found. Don’t provide a plot summary—just give enough details to illustrate your argument with examples.
Thus, when writing your papers, do NOT summarize the show episode by episode or provide summaries of every show or film you watched. In each section, you will give some **overall** findings with regard to ALL of the shows. Then you will give some examples. You do not need to give an example of each show or episode in each section. That would be too long. You need to pick some examples that illustrate your points. Do this with each theme assigned. Make sure that you say something in each of those sections about how this fits into your ideas about family crisis vs. change. In other words, what are the implications of what you observed for how we think about family structure, roles, etc.? Do NOT provide lengthy summaries of all of the shows or episodes. You are doing an analysis, not a book report. As you analyze your popular materials, be sure that you make references to some of the readings we have completed in class.Start your paper with an introductory paragraph that makes an argument or has a thesis regarding what you observed with regard to family crisis or change overall. It might be best to write this after you have written the rest of the paper. Make sure you have a conclusion that ties it all together and reflects on what this all means for the debate about family crisis or change. Please document your sources of information—include a list of what you analyzed and include all relevant information (dates, times, titles, etc.)Suggested Length: 6-7 page
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