Interview With A Family

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This project should take you the greater part of the term to complete since you will be incorporating
practical applications, critical thinking skills and writing skills into a demonstration of your knowledge
and understanding of some of the key concepts of sociology.

You will submit a formally written paper of 4-5 pages in length describing and analyzing the functioning
of a family. You will study marital/family interaction by personally interviewing and observing the
members of a specific family of your own choosing. This will not include your immediate family, howev-
er, you will develop a set of interview questions prior to the interview (minimum of 15 questions).

Your interview questions will be worth 10 of the 60 points.

You can interview any type of family, including a nuclear family, single parent family, child-free couple,
foster family, cohabitating couple, etc. You can interview anyone except your family of orientation, mean-
ing the family into which you were born, or your family of procreation, meaning the family a person forms
by marrying or having or adopting children. In other words, you cannot interview your parents or your
own spouse/partner. You can interview anyone else you know, including your grandparents (unless they
have raised you), brother or sister’s family, or other family member’s family or friend’s family. Please see
me if you need clarification about this.

You will analyze the data that you collect using concepts covered in this course, including class discussion
and text material. For each description of an event, offer an interpretation of the meaning of the event
using various sociological ideas. At least fifteen applications of course concepts from diverse sections of
class discussion and/or text are expected.

Do not write this paper in first person; in other words, do not refer to yourself in the context of the paper
(do not say “I” or “my,” etc.). This paper should be completely objective; do not refer to your experiences
and do not state your opinion in this paper.

Also, do not refer to the interview questions in the context of the paper. You are to include the list of your
15 interview questions as a separate page at the end of your paper (worth 10 of the 60 points total). I will
see the answers to your questions as you write about the family. For example, I do not want to see, “I
asked the family who is primarily responsible for the household chores… and they said…” Instead you
would say, “Mrs. Smith is primarily responsible for the household chores…”

Assure your respondents know they are not required to provide their names in order for you to complete this
project. In your paper, use fictional names for each family member. Additionally, assure them that you will
not discuss their responses outside of your research paper, which will solely be used to fulfill a course re-
quirement. The Instructor is also bound by the same ethical obligation to maintain confidentiality of the
identities of the respondents and the issues raised by your interviews.


o How and why you located the family that you selected. Here you will introduce the family
you interviewed. Explain why this particular family was interviewed. For example, you can
say, “The Smith family was selected to interview because they are a good example of a well-
functioning single parent family…”

1. Create

a cover page for your project:

Your name
Marriage, Family and Relationships Title

Due date

o Description and interpretation of setting and interactions. Observe while interviewing. As
you are interviewing, also notice the setting and the nonverbal communication during the

o Factors such as age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (includes income, occupation, and
education to determine class location), spousal roles, parental roles, communication pat-
terns, decision-making practices, power structure, and family philosophy/main priorities.

o Open and close ended questions. Respondents’ answers to open ended questions may raise
additional questions for you.

o This project is considered an academic paper, therefore the explanations must be written
in formal language (no slang, and limit contractions, such as can’t, don’t, won’t).

o Do not write this paper in first person; in other words, do not refer to yourself in the con-
text of the paper. This paper should be completely objective. You are welcome to discuss
your work in progress anytime prior to submission.

o Papers must be stapled, no covers.
o The following is the format in which the project will be organized:

  • Pages MUST be numbered.

  • Introduce your paper with a sociological issue that is evident in this family. In other words, open

    with a central theme about this family (for example, a traditional family, autonomous couple, im-

    migrant family, single parent family, stepfamily, foster family…)

  • Conclude your paper with an overall explanation of the family’s functioning.

  • Include (at the end of your paper) your interview questions.

  • The body of your paper should include at least 15 sociological concepts. The main thing I am look-
    ing for is how well you apply and explain (in your own words) the various course concepts
    throughout the paper.

  • Attach your set of interview questions at the end of your paper.

  • Completed papers must be typed and double-spaced, using 12-point, Times New Roman font,

    black ink, and 1” margins.

  • Papers must be stapled. I will deduct 2 points for unstapled papers.

  • Grammar, spelling, and format are important. Be sure to use your spell/grammar check and proof

    read your work.

    Suggestion: It always helps to have a second pair of eyes view your work. You may want to have another
    person read your paper prior to turning it in. You will not be penalized for limited grammatical/spelling
    errors. However, excessive errors will result in a reduction of points.

  • Late papers will not be accepted. No exceptions!

  • Any deviations from this format will result in points being deducted from the project grade.

  • Your grade will be determined by how successful you are in following the specified instructions,

    and especially in addressing and expanding upon each of the sociological concepts. Show me that
    you understand the course material.

Sample interview questions:

Would you say you both hold traditional roles within the marriage?
Who is in charge of the indoor/outdoor responsibilities?
Who holds the instrumental/expressive role? Are the roles equally shared?
Who is primarily in charge of disciplining the child(ren)? / How do you discipline?
Do you use day care?
Do you both work outside the home? What do you do for a living?
Who cooks? / Who cleans?
Who manages the money?
Who does the grocery shopping?
How involved is the extended family?
Are you actively involved in a religious services?
When it comes to big decisions, who has the final word? Do you make them jointly?
What are your main priorities/goals in life?