Exploring Marriage & Family
“Throughout the semester we have been exploring the socio-historical construction of marriage and family in class and in course readings. You are expected to take course ideas out of the classroom and utilize them to see the world more sociologically. In order to help with this process you are assigned to locate three examples of messages or statements (advertisements, slogans, media, etc.) about an aspect of family life outside of class and analyze them sociologically.
In your everyday life you enter in and out of literally thousands of varied social contexts. And in these contexts often you are being taught indirect lessons about the social world. These lessons may be visible to us and we willing absorb them, but other times they may be invisible and we unconsciously take them into us and make them part of our lives without directly acknowledging that we learned something.
This assignment requires you to explore varied social contexts in which you are directly or indirectly provided with lessons about family. Below you can find a list of “sites” for you to sociologically explore and analyze. From this list you should choose three, sociologically explore them, and then respond to the five analysis questions in a minimum of one page double spaced (12pt font) per example.
You will be graded on completeness, sociological relevance and engagement. You should include relevant course terminology in your analysis, and you should highlight (bold/underline) course concepts or key sentences.
Possible Examples for Exploration:
You should choose 3 different examples (not categories — specific sites) for exploration. You can choose to locate images from the list that I provide below, but I also encourage you to explore images that you think are important or relevant (just check in with the instructor for approval example).
Comparing a 1950/60s TV show to a contemporary show where family is the main theme
Magazines — articles, advertisements
Children’s Books — gender presentations, family type/s presented
Movies (particularly Disney)
Social Networking Sites (Blogs/FB, etc.)
Public Policy — e.g. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; recent transgender school policy and law
Stickers on cars
other examples where a message about family, partnership, marriage, or related gender roles is stated, shown, or implied
As you explore each example you select, you should consider the following questions. Responding to these questions may be more or less challenging depending on what you decide to study, but you should be able to provide some good sociological discussion and analysis of even the most subtle things – often the most subtle messages you see in these sites will be the most fun to analyze. You will definitely need to utilize some critical thinking skills as you think through and respond to the questions, but hopefully this will be fun.
1) Please describe the specific example that you’re analyzing. Please include any pictures or text that might be helpful for your readers to understanding what you are exploring.
2) In what ways is this example conveying a message about the definition of family or marriage or gendered relationships? How might it be presenting us with a definition of family? Explain.
3) What social values might someone directly or indirectly learn from the message? Explain how.
4) Imagine if everyone believed they had to subscribe to or follow this definition or these values that are be conveyed – what might be some possible positive and negative consequences or outcomes?
5) Also, please discuss any other intellectual or sociological insights that you think are interesting or relevant that you didn’t get a chance to address in the above questions.
For an example of this type of analysis, see Erin Lew’s blog (http://erinlew.wordpress.com). Each of Erin’s “artifacts” (scroll down a bit on Erin’s page) is an example for analysis. Erin’s analyses are brief (yours will be longer with additional detail) but act as a good example of this assignment in general. Another site to check out examples linked here — Sociological Images.
I will also post 2 examples from last semester of this assignment to the “Questions” discussion forum (there is no option to add it to these directions!)
Again, each of your examples should include an analysis as outlined above. The page minimum (total) for this assignment is 3 pages (double spaced, font size 12).”
Let me know if you want to see the examples.
Use sources as needed.
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