we have been learning about the family, marriage, the culturally defined roles of men and women in the family, and how the family has changed over the years in both the United States and the global community. But, does the mass media impact our views of family? Let’s have some fun and explore mass media and the family in this critical thinking assignment by looking at cultivation theory.
Cultivation theory, which was developed by media researchers, suggests that there are consistent images, themes, and stereotypes that cut across programming genres. As a whole, these different media images cultivate a view of the family and gender roles that is consistent. Thus, viewers who watch comedies, soap operas, reality shows, news stories and weekly news programs, sporting events, dramas, and late-night television programs will develop similar and consistent views.
Unfortunately, these media views of the family and gender roles are oftentimes partially or completely incorrect and widespread. Males are generally viewed as more ambitious and successful than women, and women are more nurturing and emotional than men. Similarly, the view of the family presented in Leave it to Beaver, The Brady Bunch, Roseanne, The Crosby Show, The Simpsons, and Modern Family has influenced generations of viewers’ thoughts about the typical family system in the United States. The family has never been as perfect as we were led to believe by the Cleaver family of Leave it to Beaver, and it is generally not as dysfunctional as is presented in The Simpsons.
Your task in this assignment is to look at one of your favorite network or cable shows and discuss the view of the family and gender roles that may be created from the show.
- Describe and discuss your favorite show and how it depicts the family, marriage, and gender roles. Be sure to give specific examples from the show and the characters so that anyone who has never seen the show can fully understand your views and comments.
- Is the family depicted as what is considered “traditional”, why or why not? Single parent household? Nuclear or extended? Step-families or blended families? Is it a patriarchal, matriarchal, or egalitarian family?
- What roles do men and women play in the family? What roles do children play? What roles do men and women play in the household chores and income earning? Who takes the responsibility for child rearing? Who does inside chores and who does outside chores?
- What about Marriage? Is marriage or divorce depicted? What about cohabitation? Are there heterosexual or homosexual relationships? Are the relationships depicted as monogamy, serial monogamy, polygamy or polyandry?
- Write your answer as one 3-5 paragraph essay. Your essay should be at least 500 words and appropriately have an introduction, body, and conclusion.