Instant Family

Instant Family: 2. Pick a theory that interests you. Make sure you understand the key concepts, some of the propositions that come out of the theory, and how people who use the theory to study real families do so. The article reviews and the empirical applications sections of the theory test will help with this. They may also serve as guides. For example, in the symbolic interaction theory chapter, the authors use “dating aggression” as an empirical application of the theory. Movies about domestic violence would be a place to start because the chapter gives you some sense of how the theory is related to that particular issue in family living.  

3. Watch the movie and take notes. Are there key scenes that really show aspects of the theory? If you’re using systems theory, are there scenes that show closed or open boundaries? In Meet The Parents, how does the difficulty that Ben Stiller’s character has in being a part of that family show the closed boundary concept? How do the interactions of the three sisters in Hanging Up reflect the conflict theory proposition that coalitions form when families have more democratic authority patterns?  

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4. Begin to write your paper.

a) Describe the family in the movie. Who are the members of the family and how are they related to each other? What type of family is it (nuclear, extended, cohabitating, single parent, homosexual, blended, dual worker, etc.)?

Why do you characterize this group as a family? Is the plot of the movie realistic?

How likely is it that a real family would be faced with this problem? If your only impression of families was based on this movie, what would that impression be? In other words, what would you think families are like if the only thing you knew about them was based on this movie. This could probably be the first few pages. Do not just answer these questions as a short answer essay. Bring the answers together into a coherent thought.  

b) Give me a broad sense of why you’ve chosen the theory and what it has to offer in explaining the family interaction. Then tell me about the theory. Please use the class texts to help you with this. Pretend I don’t know anything about the theory. Make it clear to me that you do. This will give me some way to organize my thinking as I read the paper. This will tell me how I should think about what you’re going to do.

This will probably be two pages or so.  

c) Pick some scenes (2-3) that most clearly reflect the themes, concepts, and propositions of the theory you have chosen. Discuss how the interactions or other aspects of the family relationships do this. Use the notes that you took and support your analysis with specific examples from your notes. For example, if you say that both mother and father have equal power in decision-making, give clear and descriptive examples from the movie that show this. I imagine a page or two using each scene, but you don’t have to stick to this format. I just think it would be easier to write a coherent paper if you try to analyze key incidents rather than rambling all over the place trying to analyze the whole story.  

d) Finally, surround the paper with an introduction and a conclusion that brings the reader into the paper and then closes the paper. Don’t just stop writing and hand it in. A paper, like a book and like the movies you will watch, should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Please give me all three parts of your paper.  

WHAT WILL I EXPECT FROM THE PAPERS AND HOW WILL THEY BE GRADED?   The papers are to be no less than five to seven (5-7) pages. The paper should be single-spaced, have one-inch margins, and have page numbers. The font should be Times or Times New Roman and nothing bigger than 12 points. In addition to the information on the grading rubric, the grading criteria are as follows: The balance in your paper between “the story”—that is, your description of the movie, your telling of the tale—and your sociological analysis should be weighted towards the “critical” more than the “descriptive.”  I will be looking at how well you describe the movie, relationships, and situations (i.e., with concrete facts and vivid details), but will be more interested in how well you analyze the relationships in the context of what we’ve discussed about the theory you’re using. I obviously expect explicit references to course concepts and readings. Mechanics: Is the paper free of spelling, typographical, and grammatical errors? Are sources correctly cited throughout the paper and in the bibliography? Use APA documentation style for citations. I will take off 1/2 a point for every error up to 20 points.

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