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theoretical analysis of two different media sources ( book and a play)

deshara 1 / -  
Mar 5, 2008   #1
This is a rough, rough sketch and I welcome any and every suggestion. This is my FIRST paper for my Masters program in Family Studies so I really wan to impress my prof as well as get an A grade. Im assuming this paper is supposed to be like a compare and contrast paper with a lot of examples in support of the theory, but Im not sure. HELP!

There are many shows, movies, videos, books, and other forms of media that serve as entertainment for people today. Not only do these different forms of media serve as entertainment, but they provide a basis for research and a reference to analyzing theoretical perspectives. By taking a look at what we watch, see, hear, and read, we learn and better understand theories that shape daily function. This paper will provide a written analysis of two different media resources: Single Wisdom a book by Paris Finner-Williams and Robert D. William, and the play, Miss Evers Boys, a fictionalized account of the Tuskegee Experiment, by David Feldshuh. Such resources will be explained from the theoretical basis of the social exchange theory.

Single Wisdom serves as a written manual for singles and married people advising them to become wise in choosing who to date and get married to as well as gain understanding of the dating process, and to become more knowledgeable of the similarities and differences of men and women emotionally, mentally, and physically. Theoretically, Finner-Williams' Single Wisdom can be analyzed based on the Social Exchange Theory. One core assumptions of the social exchange theory are that experience in relationships influence subsequent exchanges. This means that what we learn from each relationship we are involved in , we carry that knowledge into future relationships. This core assumption is displayed in Chapter 4, "Before You Marry", when Williams says:

"If we continue to think. Feel and behave in the same manner and expect a different result then we are neither smart nor wise. The strongholds, yokes, and generational curses that keep us from being happy must be broken.

The impact of our personal family histories will strongly impact the quality of our relationships, the effectiveness of our interpersonal communications and our ability to fully disclose our true selves. How we were "glazed" will determine if we will be honest, truthful, sincere and faithfully committed. The way we were "glazed" affects the quality of our thoughts , the stability of our emotions and the normality of our feelings. The way we were "glazed" will affect our level of trust, independence, and ability to change...If we are glazed sweetly, we will have hope, steadfastness, willpower, purpose, mission, and competency...If we were "glazed" bitterly, we may have selfishness, dissatisfaction, meaningless living and lack a strong moral core" (Finner-Williams, 2005).

Another core assumption of social exchange theory is that based on human expectation, humans seek to maximize rewards and minimize costs. Humans seek relationships, positions, and other things for what they can get out of it. One theorist of the social exchange theory, Peter Blau outlines that costs are analyzed based on investment of time, effort, or money. They count up the costs to see how much they have to spend, whether its time or money. Whether the costs are high or low, a decision to end or continue the relationship is made. A relationship will not last if the costs, opportunity and investment, are higher than perceived rewards of attraction, approval or power. In Chapter 8, entitled "How to Achieve a Godly Hook-up", a section is devoted to instructions on "How to End Ungodly Relationships" in which there are seven tips on how to end an unhealthy relationship. Finner-Williams states "we place bars and alarm systems around our homes and in our automobiles. We need to place safeguards around our single lives. Safeguard your faith by ending and dismissing toxic and unhealthy relationships. When you end a relationship learn how to separate yourself. Don't expect calls from the dead. When the relationship is over, place it among dead things, not to be resurrected"(Finner-Williams, 2005). Chapter 8 can be paralleled to the social exchange theory, within the context of Clalt 's Comparison Level For Alternatives. The Comparison level for alternatives is a construct developed to explain a person's decision to remain or terminate a relationship. It is defined as the lowest level outcome a person will accept from a relationship in light of available alternatives, In short, a person will decide to accept the simplest form of the relationship.(i.e. "Let's just be friends") in order to move on to a "better" relationship. In chapter 9, the Finner-Williams Pre-Marital Screening Questionnaire (Finner-Williams, 2005) is provided as a tool to help couples as they investigate their relationship and it will reveal whether or not the relationship will be beneficial or if it will be detrimental and unhealthy.

A second theory that could possibly shed light on Single Wisdom, is the conflict theory. One basic assumption of the conflict theory is that conflict is a basic element of human nature and there will be conflict, competition, and struggle for scarce resources. In Chapter 1, "The Journey of Life", case studies are provided of three people: Nia, Pace, and Carol. These young people are at different life stages. Nia is a single young woman who struggles to find value of herself and her life, but she fill emptiness with overeating, sexual immorality, and education. Ultimately, she hopes to find a good man who will want to marry her. Pace starts out as a single graduate student who begins dating a woman, Esther, who seems to be the joy of his life. He marries her after a short period and the true personality of this woman comes out. After one year of marriage, Pace decides to divorce Esther. Carol had a baby out of wedlock as a teen and thought she would be doomed to raise a child on her own through her adulthood, until Willie came along. He was a neighborhood friend and they began dating. Eventually, the two married. Willie suffered a heart attack one night after a long days work and Carol was forced to take the role of a widow.

Nia, Pace, and Carol both experienced struggles as they went along their single hood. These situations can be explained based on the social exchange theory. Nia had trouble trusting men she became involved with and family members due to a bad relationship with her mother and the non existent relationship with her father. Trust and commitment were integrated with norms according to page 405 of the Sourcebook of Family Theories and Methods(Boss, P & Doherty, W. & LaRosa, R. & Schumm, W. & Steinmetz, S., 1993). Carol didn't think she could live on and accept the role of a widow after the death of Willie because she was so dependent on him. Dependence is a factor of relationship stability, in which there are two types. Carol displayed internal dependence on Willie. Pace divorced his wife, Esther because the relationship identified low quality according to the typology of Marital Quality/Stability.

Chapter 7, entitled "Quest for Human Touch", explains that people are on a quest to find love with a focus on religiosity as the key in guiding one through the dating process as well as enabling a couple to maintain and stabilize a long lasting relationship in marriage. Negative space number 1, the non-traditional realm of emotions (Daly, 2001) helps in understanding how people "live their lives longing for love to come or in an effort to recapture love that is lost. Even the chapters on marital interaction or sexuality exclude any discussion of love. Here the irony of our theory-life split is most glaringly apparent: families are formed and broken in the name of love..."(Milardo, 2000). It is true that love is what makes or breaks a relationship or family, but love has become a negative space due to lack of research and conversation on this complex emotion within families. Looking at the woman, an individual component of family, we see that often love is distorted. The author reveals an interesting quote in Chapter 7: "...Moreover, because women frequently view sex as a substitute for love, they are flooded in the light of day, with feelings of abandonment, betrayal and hopelessness" (Finner-Williams, 2005). In chapter 5-8, suggestions are made on where to meet your mate, how to date and many other topics to help a couple inquire of their mate and find

My personal choice of cultural entertainment this past weekend serves as the second
media source to be explained in light of the social exchange theory. I went to see the stage play, "Miss Evers Boys" at Riverwalk theatre in Lansing. Miss Evers Bys was about an African American nurse, Eunice Evers, and four African American men: Willie, Caleb, Hodgman, and Ben. During a blood drive, she befriends these four men and Miss Evers learns their interests, specifically Willie's aspiration to dance competitively. As a result of the blood test, Miss Evers is informed that the four men acquired the Spyrokeet virus and they have Syphilis, which they call "bad blood". Dr Douglas and Dr Broadus offer Miss Evers the opportunity, based on her reputation as a thorough worker ,to study in the Tuskegee Experiment of 1932, entitled

Untreated Syphilis Among Negro Men. Miss Evers finds out from Dr Douglas and Dr Broadus
that the guidelines for the Tuskegee Experiment would require Willie, Caleb, Ben, or Hodgman's syphilis treatment, involving mercury back rubs and arsenic injections, be stopped completely and Miss Evers must swear not to inform the men of this. Opportunity, according to Blau, is a loss of rewards which would've been available elsewhere, and Mss Evers has several encounters with opportunity: she is asked to work with the men in helping them to win a dance competition, she is offered a nursing job in New York, when she is asked to work on the Tuskegee Experiment, and when she receives news of penicillin shots being offered in Alabama, which the four men could get better from receipt of the shots. Miss Evers counts the cost of ethical standards she violated during the study as well as the deterioration, unhealthiness of

Willie, Caleb, Ben, or Hodgman due to maltreatment. The social exchange theory outlines that this process in the relationship dynamic of decision making. At the end of the play, 14 years after the beginning of the experiment and 600 participants later, Ben and Hodgman die, Caleb becomes a successful preacher, and Willie is forced to stop dancing and walk with a cane due to a feeble leg. Caleb file s a lawsuit against Dr Douglas, Dr Broadus, and other workers since all the men received was $14 and a certificate of appreciation. Caleb tells Willie that Miss Evers lied to them all along about the treatment they weren't getting for syphilis. Willie feels so sad and used and he depicts the norms of reciprocity concept of the social exchange theory. The norms of reciprocity concept state that norms or rules that regulate relationships are the norms of fairness and equity. Miss Evers believed she had to reciprocate service to the boys in exchange for their participation in the Experiment . She also expected reciprocity among Dr. Douglas and Dr. Broadus such that they would offer penicillin shots and life insurance for the men's participation. In both cases, people failed norms. Distributive justice, according to George Homans, is a perceived fairness which is based on ratio of cost or benefits to expectations. Willie expected fairness be shown within Miss Evers and his relationship and it was not. Miss Evers deviation from this fairness was allowed, in my opinion, due to prestige and power, which are two out of the six types of Blau's social rewards. Though Miss Evers did all she could to help the men recover from Syphilis, they still saw that she did not live up to their expectation of being treated of Syphilis and hope of going into recovery.

This paper provided a written analysis of two different media resources, Single Wisdom by Paris Finner-Williams and Robert D. William, and the play, Miss Evers Boys, a fictionalized account of the Tuskegee Experiment, by David Feldshuh and such sources were explained from the theoretical basis of the social exchange theory.


EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
Mar 6, 2008   #2

I think you're off to a good start! As you say, it is just a rough draft, so I won't try to correct all the little typos at this point; I'll just point out one:

One of the core assumptions of the social exchange theory is that experience in relationships influences subsequent exchanges.

Though Miss Evers did all she could to help the men recover from Syphilis, they still saw that she did not live up to their expectation of being treated of Syphilis and hope of going into recovery. - This sentence is confusing and makes it sound like they expected her to be treated for (not "of") syphilis.

Keep up the good work!


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