Cohabitation (also Common-Law Marriages, where they are legally allowed—not CA)
- without children (‘trial marriage’ or permanent status)
- with children (his, hers, or theirs)
Your actual term paper should be about 4-6 pages in length, including references but not counting your appendices; 7 pages is MAXIMUM—do not exceed), typed, double-spaced, in 12-pt. regular font with at least one-inch margins on all sides, and number your pages. If print is so light that I strain eyes to read, it will negatively affect your paper grade. The quality of your writing and your organization will affect your grade, so take the time to polish and proofread your paper (use spell check) before turning it in. Ask one of your friends to read it and comment on its clarity, or drop in to our Writing Center in Library South.
This is a mixed format paper: it combines library research with a personal interview. Interview (in person, not phone, text, email, or chat (except with my permission) someone you know, or a friend of a friend, who lives in a non-traditional family form from our suggested topics list (see end of syllabus) or discussed in our readings (e.g. staying single and living alone as a life choice, single parent, cohabitation, adoption, grandparents raising kids, father or step-fathers who have had to fight for their rights, “blended” families---meaning both adults bring children from previous unions-- people who have relied on surrogacy/artificial insemination, or egg donors, children of gays or adoption rights of gay couples, same-sex couple who are domestic partners or married.) For topics not in our required readings, e.g. ‘voluntary childless’ couples or interracial/inter-ethnic or ‘polyamory’ (more than 2 partners) or transracial adoption, see me for how to adapt book materials.
First Half of Paper: Introduce your broad topic (say something about relevance of your topic in first paragraph), then use library and web sources to clearly state what is known about this family form and how prevalent it is in America, bringing in any statistics you find to indicate changes over time (www.census.gov is a resource). I expect at least EIGHT references TOTAL. In addition to anything you learn on the web (include full html address in references), your paper MUST include a minimum of four reasonably recent (1995 or later) references to social science work ABOUT AMERICANS (i.e. articles from academic journals or university press books, NOT popular magazines or mass market books, and not about foreign subjects). [These four must be OTHER than references given to you by professor, or ‘borrowed’ from sample paper on your topic, or from our required readings]. If your family form is the subject of one of our readings, be sure to use our text or readings as your 5th academic citation—i.e. if our readings discuss your topic, you must incorporate our reading into your paper. You may also cite popular magazines, newspaper articles, and web information in addition to above to reach your minimum of EIGHT references. For your References page, use ASA or APA style, whichever you are familiar with; list your references in alphabetical order by author’s last name(s)—underline or italicize journal and book titles. To refer to your reference INSIDE your paper, use parentheses with authors’ last names, year of publication, and if you use a direct quotation, it must also include page number –e.g. (Mason, Skolnick and Sugarman, 2003: p.151), then include full reference in your Reference page. Your paper will be downgraded if references are not in an acceptable academic format.
BE SURE YOU USE PARAGRAPH BREAKS; A FULL PAGE OR LONGER IS TOO LONG FOR SINGLE PARAGRAPH.
Second Half of Your Paper: Transition after your introduction and literature review with a METHODS STATEMENT (at least one paragraph). Be sure to state how you know or found your subject, where the interview took place (anyone else present?), how long it lasted, was it conversational or just Q&A, did you take notes at the time, was subject informed that s/he could skip questions considered too personal, etc. THEN present a succinct summary of what you learned in your interview. Most students in the past asked 10-15 questions for their term paper. Be sure you include answers to your specific questions about how the policy issues you read about have personally affected your subject; e.g. how did they impact family finances, funding for schooling, healthcare, flextime for childcare, custody issues, etc.? If our readings include any discussion of the government and employer policies that impact this family form, you must draw on that to frame your paper (reference the reading & page numbers, even if you are not using direct quotations); bring up ALL SIDES of the debate (don’t just give the side you believe in). Also report on what your subject said about the sources of support from immediate and extended family, neighbors, friends, religious or other communities, and employer. Be sure to let the person describe the benefits of their family form, and not just its problems. DO NOT USE THE PERSON’S REAL LAST NAME; JUST USE SUBJECT’S FIRST NAME OR A PSEUDONYM. No more than 2 pages of your paper should relate to your interview findings; i.e. more than half must be based on your introduction, library research summary, and concluding thoughts. All papers need a CONCLUSION: This can be a single paragraph recap of what you learned about this family form, from both readings and interview—did you rethink whether our policies and laws are fair and sufficient?
THREE Appendices ARE REQUIRED at End of Paper: (1) please include a copy of your final interview questions (you DO NOT need to include interviewee’s answers); (2) Declare whether you do or do not want to participate in bonus point panels (described below); (3) WITH PAPER CLIP ATTACH TO YOUR PAPER AS LAST PAGE a XEROX of an abstract page (that’s the indented usually italicized summary at start of an academic journal article on its first page, that includes full citation with page numbers in journal) from the most useful academic article you found—the abstract is a required part of this assignment and will be retained by me to help future students (xerox or print from source, do not retype); DON’T LOSE POINTS BY FORGETTING ANY OF THESE 3 APPENDICES!