It has been well established that the media is a powerful socialization agent that has the ability to shape our attitudes and values on a variety of issues. This includes the ability to shape our thinking about family life. The requirement for this assignment is the preparation of a paper that critiques/evaluate the portrayal of the family in the media.
Diverse family structures and issues are presented in the media. Examples include traditional nuclear families, lone-parent families, and stepfamilies, and issues such as divorce, adoption, addiction, illness, family poverty, family violence, and so on. Students should first consider how families or family situations are portrayed in the media. This might include an examination of how families are presented in popular fictional television programs, movies, commercials, novels, or children’s books. Choose only one specific medium (one book, movie or television show). The medium should not be a documentary or “reality” show.If you choose a television show, you can select one episode or more than one episode to discuss in your paper.
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Your first step is to watch/read the medium that you have chosen. As you are reading/watching, you should ask yourself, “Is what I am seeing/reading realistic?”. You should then prepare a paper in which you evaluate the portrayal of the family situation presented in this medium in terms of whether or not the portrayal is realistic. The critique must be supported by references in the literature that illustrate the realities of family life in these situations.
The content of the paper should be limited to a maximum of 3 double-spaced, typed pages using 12-point font and one-inch margins. There should also be a title page and a reference page (total submission should be a maximum of 5 pages). The paper should resemble the following format.
I. Introduction (Essay of 2 paragraphs)
A. Introduce the topic and provide a state of the purpose of the paper.
B. Provide a brief description of the medium that you are evaluating. What is the plot or storyline and who are the major characters? This should not be longer than one four-to-six sentence paragraph.
II. Critique/Literature review (Essay of 1-to-2 pages)
A. Using specific examples from the medium that you have chosen, discuss the portrayal of the family situation. Does the portrayal reflect reality in terms of what the literature tells us about these family situations? Use findings from the literature to support what you say about whether or not this portrayal of family life is realistic. For example, if you select a television show that portrays a female lone-parent family situation, you might think the portrayal is not realistic because it does not reflect the financial reality of most lone-parent families. In this paragraph of your essay, you would provide support for the fact that most lone-parent families do not have the financial resources portrayed in the show.
B. In this section a minimum of two examples to describe whether or not the portrayal is realistic should be identified and discussed. In other words, select two aspects of the portrayal to discuss. You might discuss two ways the portrayal is realistic, two ways the portrayal is unrealistic, or one way the portrayal is realistic and one way it is not realistic. The portrayal does not have to be all one way or another.
C. Your critique/literature review must include at least three references, two of which must be articles published in academic journals. The other reference can be from any academic source including books, textbooks, information from reputable online sources, and of course, academic journals. All references used must have been published within the last five years.The medium that you are evaluating, does not count as one of the three required references.
D. Be sure that the literature reviewed is relevant to the component of the media portrayal of family life that you are addressing. Also, be sure to link the reference to the point that you are discussing and be sure that the purpose of the reference is clear. For example, in a paragraph, you might describe one aspect of the portrayal that is realistic and then support your argument with findings from the literature. You might follow the presentation of the information from the reference with a sentence that states, “Therefore, this aspect of the portrayal of ____ is realistic”.
E. Do not search for information or articles about the media or the medium that you have chosen. For example, there actually are journal articles about the television show, The Simpsons. However, you should not search for this type of article. Findings from the literature and research should support what you say about the reality of family life. For example, if you were discussing the conflict between the siblings in the show,The Simpsons, you would search for information about sibling conflict.
III. Conclusions (Essay of 2 paragraphs)
A. Provide a brief (one or two sentences) summary of the points you have discussed and provide a general conclusion about whether or not the portrayal of the family situation or family issue was realistic.
B. Briefly discuss the implications of the portrayal. You should be addressing the question, “Does it matter that the issue was portrayed in this way?”. For example, a realistic portrayal of family violence may raise public awareness about this issue or make individuals who have experienced family violence feel less alone.
IV. References (Separate page)
A. Use the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA 7th edition) as a guide to citing references in the text of the paper and listing them on the reference page. Information on citing sources using APA format can be found online through the University of Manitoba Academic Learning Centre or the University of Manitoba Libraries. You are expected to correctly format all references used.
B. The reference list should only contain works used within the text of your paper. All references must be cited both within the text of the paper and on the reference page.