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the relationship between premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital stability

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Final Project:

For your final project, you will prepare an analytical report that will require you to obtain, analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate tabular data and figures (charts or graphs) on a specific family topic of your choosing. You are also required to read, think about, and synthesize recent research developments in a particular area of family sociology, and include a discussion of this research in the report.
While you are free to choose any topic that is of interest to you, the paper should be organized around the following two central components:
A) A description of how the behavior/outcome of interest has either a) changed over time, b) differs across socioeconomic groups, or c) differs across societies. A discussion of why this temporal change or variation across groups/societies important. That is, why is this behavior/outcome a question of interest to sociologists who study families?
AND
B) An evaluation of the theoretical explanations for temporal, socioeconomic, or cultural differences in (A). What theoretical explanations have been offered for (A)? How have alternative explanations been evaluated? What is the evidence supportive of/inconsistent with these explanations? Is this evidence weak or strong? Is there conflicting evidence? Are there conflicting interpretations of the same evidence? What do you make of these ambiguities? What don’t we know about the question of interest? What kind of evidence is needed for a fuller understanding?
OR
C) An evaluation of the implications of (A) for individuals and their families. What are the hypothesized implications of the behavior you are studying? How has the importance of these implications been evaluated? What is the evidence concerning these implications? Is this evidence weak or strong? Is there conflicting evidence? Are there conflicting interpretations of the same evidence? What do you make of these ambiguities? What don’t we know about the question of interest? What kind of evidence is needed for a fuller understanding?
Your paper should include two figures (graphs or charts) and two tables (columns and rows of numbers) that provide evidence in support of the description you present in (A) and/or the evaluations you present in either (B) or (C). You may not use data that appear in assigned class readings or lectures. There are many data sources on-line that you can use as a basis for preparing your tables and figures. You may also reproduce a portion of a figure or a table for your report that did not come from class lecture or the assigned readings, as long as you cite the source appropriately. (If you were really preparing your report for publication, it would be illegal to reproduce a table or figure from a published work without obtaining permission from the publisher.) Data that come from the federal government are not protected under copyright and may be used with appropriate citations at any time.
Examples of the type of research paper I am expecting can be found in most of the readings (The Waite paper is one example). However, it might be easiest for you to use a portion of one of the chapters in the Casper and Bianchi book as an example. Subsections in this book usually describe the trends, discuss the theoretical explanations and the implications of the trends, and present data in figure and tabular form to support the claims. Examples of “A” papers turned in by students in previous classes can be found on Blackboard.
To write this paper, you should consult the readings in class as well as articles in scholarly journals. Many relevant references to journal articles and chapters can be found in the bibliographies of the assigned readings. Sociology journals that contain articles related to the issues we have covered/will be covering include (but are by no means limited to): American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Family Issues, and Social Forces. All of these journals are available electronically from JSTOR or ProQuest.
I do not expect (or want) you to attempt an exhaustive review of the relevant research. Rather, I expect a 7-10 page paper (not including figures and tables) based upon a careful reading of at least 10 well-chosen articles and chapters, at least half of which were not required for the class. Newspaper and magazine articles and opinion pieces will not count toward the total of 10 references.
Your paper should include a bibliography listing the papers that you cite formatted in an accepted bibliographic style. Please do not cite papers that you have not read. I know that it is tempting to “borrow” citations from other papers, but this practice is inappropriate.

Links to data and reports:

Start by skimming:
The decade in review. (2010). Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3), 401-803.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.2010.72.issue-3/issuetoc
This journal issue has review articles of all the research done in the previous decade in approximately a dozen areas of the sociology of the family.

General sites to search:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1741-3737
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/ (search in “Topics A-Z”)
https://www.census.gov/ (search in “Subjects A-Z”)
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products.htm
https://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62
https://www.childtrends.org/index.cfm

Families and Households:
https://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.html
This page includes reports on families, households, marital status, children’s living arrangements and cohabitation.

Grandparents and Grandchildren:
https://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/grandparents.html
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/homhltpatients.htm

Children, Child Care, and Child Well-being
https://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/index.xml
https://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/children.html
https://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/index.asp
https://www.census.gov/hhes/childcare/index.html
https://www.census.gov/people/childsupport/
https://www.childtrends.org/index.cfm
https://www.futureofchildren.org/
This contains numerous articles on marriage and child well-being

Foster Care
https://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=66

Immigrant Children
https://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=41

Births and Fertility
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/births.htm#Tabulated
https://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/fertility.html
See also Childtrends site for teen pregnancy data

https://www.childtrends.org/index.cfm

Poverty and Income, Single-Parent Families, and Welfare Reform
https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html
https://www.ksg.harvard.edu/urbanpoverty/research.html
https://www.jhu.edu/~welfare/
https://www.fragilefamilies.princeton.edu/
https://www.lasurvey.rand.org/
https://www.urbaninstitute.org/
https://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=53

Gay Marriage, Same-sex Parenting and America’s Children
https://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=37&articleid=108
There is a good list of references at the end of this article

https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu//

Marriage and Divorce
https://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/marr-div.html
https://www.cdc.gov/
https://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=37
This contains numerous articles on Marriage and Child Well-being

https://ncfmr.bgsu.edu/
This cite is for the National Center for Marriage and Family Research which is a clearing house for marriage, divorce, and cohabitation data

If you are having trouble locating data contact me as soon as possible so I can steer you in the right direction.

Final Project A & B Name: _______________
Sociology 369

Points Total 100

30 Description of Behavior/Topic of Interest:

5 Introduction of the topic: Why is this topic important to
sociologists who study families?

25 Describe how behavior/outcome has either
• changed over time
• differs across socioeconomic, race, or other subgroups
• differs across societies
a. Accuracy of analysis of trends/differences (5)

b. Clarity of explanation of trends/differences (5)

c. Fit with central focus of the paper?(5)

d. Synthesis and integration with existing research literature (10)

30 Evaluation of Theoretical Explanations:

a. Description of theoretical explanations (5)

b. Description of how alternative explanations have been evaluated (5)

c. Discussion of the evidence (pro or con) for these explanations (5)

d. Discussion of whether the evidence is weak, strong, or conflicting, or there are conflicting interpretations of the evidence (5)

e. Interpretation of these ambiguities (5)

f. What don’t we know? What evidence is needed? (5)

20 Tables and Figures:

8 2 for each table and figure (up to 8)

8 1 each for appropriateness of each table and figure including explanation (up to 8)

4 1 for each reference to tables (Are they there? Correct format?)

15 References
10 1 for each appropriate reference

5 for style

5 Grammar, spelling, punctuation

Final Project A & C Name: _______________
Sociology 369

Points Total 100

30 Description of Behavior/Topic of Interest

5 Introduction of the topic: Why is this topic important to
sociologists who study families?

25 Describe how behavior/outcome has either
• changed over time
• differs across socioeconomic, race, or other subgroups
• differs across societies
e. Accuracy of analysis of trends/differences (5)

f. Clarity of explanation of trends/differences (5)

g. Fit with central focus of the paper?(5)

h. Synthesis and integration with existing research literature (10)

30 Evaluation of Implications for individuals and their families

g. Description of the hypothesized implications of the outcome(s) (5)

h. Description of how the importance of these implications have been evaluated (5)

i. Discussion of the evidence for these implications (5)

j. Discussion of whether the evidence is weak, strong, or conflicting, or there are conflicting interpretations of the evidence (5)

k. Interpretation of these ambiguities (5)

l. What don’t we know? What other evidence is needed? (5)

20 Tables and Figures:

8 2 for each table and figure (up to 8)

8 1 each for appropriateness of each table and figure including explanation (up to 8)

4 1 for each reference to tables (Are they there? Correct format?)

15 References
10 1 for each appropriate reference

5 for style

5 Grammar, spelling, punctuation

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