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 term paper that critiques/evaluates the portrayal of the family in the media.
Many family situations and family issues are presented in the media. These include lone-parent families, same-sex families, and stepfamilies and issues such as divorce, adoption, addiction, illness, family poverty, abuse within the family, and so on. 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.
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 an essay that evaluates 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 family situations.
The content of the paper should be limited to a maximum of 4 double-spaced, typed pages using 12-point font and one-inch margins. There should also be a title page and a reference page (maximum total of 6 pages). The paper should resemble the following format.
I. Introduction (Essay of 1–2 paragraphs)
A. Introduce the topic and state the purpose of the paper.
B. Provide a brief description of the medium that you are evaluating. What is the plot or story line and who are the major characters? This should not be longer than one paragraph.
C. Provide a short preview of the points you will be discussing. This can be brief (one sentence).
II. Critique/Literature review (Essay of approx. 2 – 3 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 headed 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 medium.
B. In this section a minimum of three examples to describe whether or not the portrayal is realistic should be identified and discussed.
C. Your critique/literature review must include at least 5 references, 2 of which must be articles published in academic journals. The other three references can be from any academic sources 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.
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 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 – 3 paragraphs)
A. Provide a brief (one or two sentences) summary of the points you have discussed.
B. Provide a general conclusion about whether or not the portrayal of the family situation or family issue was realistic.
C. 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 references in the text of the paper and on the reference page. Information on citing sources using APA format can be found online through the Academic Learning Centre.
B. The reference list should only contain works used within the text of the literature review. All references must be cited both within the text of the paper and on the reference page.
C. Within the text of the paper, works are cited in the following way:
1. For a paraphrased non-direct quotation:
Smith (2015) noted that financial difficulties are common among families. OR
Most families experience financial stress (Smith, 2015).
2. For a direct quotation:
Smith (2015) stated that “Families are in economic danger” (p. 70). OR
“Most of the research participants had low self-esteem” (Smith, 2015,
3. Note that only the last names of authors are cited within the text.
D. Examples for reference list:
Band-Winterstein , T. (2014). The impact of lifelong exposure to IPV on adult children and their aging parents. Journal of Family Issues, 35(4), 439-461. https://doi-org.uml.idm.oclc.org/10.1177%2F0192513X12472657
Smith, A. (2015). Canadian families today: How have they changed over the centuries. Winston Press.
Note that on the reference page all references are listed in alphabetical order and are not separated by reference type.
E. See the APA manual for more details. You are expected to correctly format all references used.
All assignments are submitted in UM Learn in the assignment submission folder labelled for each assignment. The assignment must be a Word fileand the file title should be Media Critique and your surname (or example, “Media Critique, Smith”). Please do not submit PDF or other file formats. Always keep a backup copy of your work and save this each time that you work on the assignment. It is your responsibility to check to see that the assignment has been received in UM Learn and that the file can be opened.
The media critique is worth 30% of your mark. Grading for this assignment will be based on following the guidelines provided in the assignment instructions (E.g., providing an introduction and a conclusion), the use of appropriate reference material, the content of the literature review and the critique, following APA reference format, and the quality of writing). The marking key that is used to mark the media critique is shown here:
Portrayal of families in the media marking key
Introduces topic and states purpose of paper
Previews points to be discussed
Review of literature
Minimum of 5 references used and references include 2 research articles from academic journals
References published within past 5 years
Literature is used to clearly support arguments or points being made
Literature is relevant for topic of paper
Focuses on whether or not portrayal of family or family issue is realistic
Discusses a minimum of three examples from the medium to describe whether or not the portrayal is realistic
Summarizes findings from paper
Provides general conclusion about whether or not medium portrayal is realistic
Discusses implications of the portrayal
References listed on reference page in correct APA format
Correct format for in-text citation of references
Paper is well organized
Clear and concise language is used
Does not exceed maximum page length
Grammar and spelling
Paper has less than two errors in spelling, grammar or sentence structure
2 For more information on Media critique read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Media_critics
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