Norm Breaking paper

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Summary: Norm-breaking in Family life: One theme of the class will be to reveal the power of cultural/institutional norms in shaping family life.In this assignment, you will explore what it is like to go against the grain in an area of your choice (e.g., keeping name after marriage; declining to own a TV; home-schooling; splitting housework evenly; working part-time in high-demand occupations such as academia, finance or tech; celibacy, etc.).You can adopt any of several ways to go about this. After you pick your area of interest, you can interview 1-2 people going against the grain in this area (or who have in their life) or you can rely upon reports from 5-6 text/media sources (books, films, articles, blogs, etc.).Then you will analyze aspects of this experience in light of course themes from reading or class discussion. You will write your analysis up in a 5-page paper.

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Why: The assignment should highlight for students the power of social norms in family and intimate life, and also illustrate for students what it is like to resist those norms.Students will also gain experience in primary research, and will practice synthesizing knowledge, i.e. applying the ideas from one area (course themes from reading/discussion) to another area (the particular experience of norm-breaking that they explore). The assignment also provides an opportunity for students to hone their skills in another kind of writing.

The details:

  • Students should identify a topic relevant to the sociology of family that is subject to strong censure by others/pressures to conform/social norms.This preliminary topic ID will involve some research, because students will have to figure out 1) a practice or identity they care about, that 2) goes against the grain/bucks the trend/breaks norms.
  • In proposing a topic, students need to prove that what they want to write about is a minority practice/identity/population.If students want to write about the experience of being Jewish and keeping the Sabbath, for example, the topic proposal should include the percentages of conservative and Orthodox Jews in the United States.If a student wants to write about the experience of being transgender, then the topic proposal will have to report statistics about the incidence of transgender people in the population.All facts should be cited, and all sources should be reputable (academic or think tank, no Wikipedia, etc).
  • Your proposal should also indicate how you plan on executing the paper – will you be interviewing people?Consulting online sources or written materials?Tell your TA how you will gain access to interviewees, how you will find sources, and how many sources you will consult. Supply URLs or other means that they can double check your sources.
  • Once your topic is approved, then you should go about collecting your data – interviewing/reading/researching your topic.See more information about conducting interviews below.
  • Once you have your data you should read it over again repeatedly, looking for particular themes that stand out.What is it like to break norms in this area?How did they first decide to embark on this path?Why did they do so?How did they know they were violating a common standard or bucking the trend?How did other people respond?How did they manage the experience of being unusual or unique? Did the experience change them at all?What did they learn from it?What do they think about others who break similar or different community standards or beliefs?
  • Once you have your themes, then put them in some sort of logical order, and construct an argument around them, so that one theme leads into the next.
  • When writing up the paper, include an introduction, conclusion and appendix (where you will provide your data) and bibliography (for the sources that you cite to establish that the practice/identity you are writing about is unusual).Give us one paragraph about your data – what did you analyze?The bulk of the paper, however, should develop an argument by expounding upon the themes you discovered, with quotes from your data as evidence.Your paper should be 5 pages.In an appendix, attach your transcripts/interview notes/notes from websites, etc.

Interviewing: If you are using interviews, they should last about 30-60 minutes, and involve questions you should prepare in advance (make a list of about 10-20 questions beforehand so you don’t have to think on the fly).I wouldn’t use the words “norm-breaking” with your interviewees because that sounds too much like sociological jargon.You can tape record the interview on your phone and transcribe them, or take notes during the conversation; you should hand in the transcripts/notes with your paper.Be polite and friendly, but also fearless and interested/curious about their lives – most people will respond well to genuine interest. At the same time, please be sensitive to people’s feelings. If they give you a sense that they don’t like talking about something, you can always check in with them, remind them that the interview is confidential and voluntary, and ask if there’s any way you can make them more comfortable with the experience.

Tips for good interviewing:

  • Start out by telling people the interview is confidential (you will change their names when you write up their answers for the paper to submit to your TA), and voluntary (they can stop it whenever they want).
  • If possible, use empathy to establish a connection to the interviewee, so they feel more comfortable (by using reflective statements that give voice to the emotions they’ve been expressing, e.g. “sounds like that could be difficult sometimes”).
  • In interviews, your job is to get them to be as specific as possible. Most people will put the best face on things in interviews (e.g., “here in xxx, we take care of each other”) but your job is to try and get them to be very concrete (e.g. “the last time I saw my father was last week, when he needed a ride to the market”).Specifics will help get people past statements of honorable behavior and instead reporting what is actually true.Questions like “can you give me an example?” or “when was the last time you…?” or “walk me through the time you …?” are more effective than “do you believe that xxx?”
  • Avoid yes/no questions; ask truly open-ended questions (do: “how did you know how other people felt about your choice?”; don’t: “did you feel alienated then?”)
  • Make time afterward to ask if they have any questions for you.Treat them and their words with respect.

I will be looking at
why divorce rates in an arranged marriage is lower than love marriage. Based on
the statistics in “statistic brain” it states that the global divorce rates for
arranged marriages is 6.3%. I will be looking at online blogs, articles, and
news about this matter.
the norm-breaking practice you have in mind is the practice of getting divorced from an arranged marriage.

Make sure that your research includes (and your argument is drawn from) what people who have been divorced from arranged marriages have to say.

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