Overview & Purpose
Look for and further explore applied examples of course topics in TV series, movies, books or other cultural products. This assignment should be both enjoyable and educational – enjoy a series, movie or book from another culture and explore illustrations of course topics in it! You will also synthesize your observations with a research article related to the same course concept in a similar culture.
These course papers will give you the opportunity to apply the themes we have discussed in this class to the real world by analyzing cultural products in the media (movies, TV series and books). In our course, we have discussed the importance of understanding culture and the psyche (or selves, individuals, people, cultural members) as having a dynamic, mutually co-constructing relationship. One important way of studying culture is to look at cultural products: “tangible, public representations of culture such as advertising or popular texts” (Morling & Lamoreaux, 2008).
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Step 1: Cultural Product Selection
Select a non-U.S. cultural product from the media and analyze the content of the product to identify themes from cultural psychology. You can choose any non-U.S. cultural context to analyze; however, keep in mind that this assignment will be more feasible if you select a relatively more collectivistic culture. Additionally, it may be easier to make applications of our current literature in Psychology by selecting a product that is set in the last 50 years (not a telling of history of the distant past) as you know culture changes with time.
The product you select can be the same for all 3 papers throughout the semester, but must focus on different scenes or characters to illustrate the different themes discussed in the 3 different papers. You are also welcome to switch cultural products between papers. Successful papers in the past have focused on different episodes of a single series for each different assignment. Our selected product MUS T be a genuine, accurate representation of the culture portrayed. Y ou should research directors, producers, actors, etc. to ensure that the culture is seems to be illustrating is being presented with factual accuracy. Your selected TV series, movie or book should be originally intended for the cultural audience in which it was produced. Thus, American series/stories about other cultures produced primarily for an American audience may not be culturally-genuine. Here are some guidelines on selecting your cultural product:
Was it produced by a U.S.-based studio? Maybe… what writers, producers and actors are involved? If mostly American producers and writers are involved, there are better choices for you. This is not always a terrible sign as many studios do their research very well, but you will have better choices out there.
Writers, actors (voices) and producers identify with the culture of the series/movie – Disney movies like Coco and Encanto are often praised for their accurate reflections of Mexican (Coco) and Columbian (Encanto) culture, but were produced in the U.S. primarily for a U.S. audience. Use these types of products with caution. Just because you see characters behaving in a certain way, don’t assume that it’s an accurate reflection of that culture. Double-check that any observations you’re making accurately reflect the culture by doing some research of your own.
Exclusively sub-titled series or movies – this is likely a great choice, with some exceptions. If you can verify that the series was written and produced in a non-U.S. culture by individuals in that culture, and that it was distributed to that cultural audience, you are in luck! Be cautious that some series might be foreign adaptations of U.S. products – For example, “reality” series like “Love is Blind” have been adapted in other countries, but place people in other cultures in a very Americanized context, forcing behavior that is not typical of their culture.
In this section of your paper, you will briefly introduce the product itself (what culture it illustrates, how you vetted its representation, when/where it aired, etc.) and summarize the crucial plot point, scene or character that is reflected in your theme below. While watching the series/movie or reading the book, try to make some notes of observations of the theme choices listed for the associated assignment.
Step 2: Theme Identification
Select ONE theme from the associated lists below that you have observed while watching/reading your cultural product. If you saw multiple concepts illustrated, select the one that you can discuss with the most precision or with the strongest connection to the product. For instance, if you select collectivism/individualism, saying that a character loves their family and is very close with family members is not sufficient. This observation is extremely surface-level and does not fully encompass “collectivism” as a concept nor reflect the theme with any precision (people in individualist cultures are also often very close with their family members). If an observation is made, you would need to give several examples of instances where the character related in specific ways to their family members that is descriptive exclusively of a collectivist culture.
Incremental/Entity Theory of Self
Step 3: Empirical Article Selection
Select a Primary Research Empirical Article (one written by a group of authors presenting their own experiment or study; NOT a review article summarizing decades of research) that investigates your theme in the same or similar culture as your cultural product. You’ll want to find a paper that explores causal factors of the theme observed in your product as a reflection of the culture – WHY that characteristic may exist for research participants in their study and therefore why the observation of the theme you made is reflective of your target culture. Due to limited research, you may not find studies completed in the culture of your product, so you can feel free to seek out research with participants of a culture that reflects values similar to your target culture.
Spend some time on this part of the process – utilizing an appropriate article that fits your observations will help the paper write itself
Step 4: Write the Paper
Write up your observations and findings, starting with the summary of the product, clear identification of the themes, and explanation of how that theme ties into your product. Then, use the empirical articles to support cultural differences in the concepts you are exploring.
Double-spaced: Go to Paragraph Settings and set the Line Spacing before & after paragraph to 0 for accurate double-spacing.
3 FULL pages minimum (not including references page): double-spaced, 1-inch margin, Times New Roman, size 12
fonto DO PROVIDE an APA-style Reference Page (it should have its own separate page) with media product
(TV show, movie, etc.), textbook (if used), and one empirical journal article. – THIS DOES NOT COUNT
TOWARD YOUR 3-PAGE MINIMUM
Use in-text citations to reference journal articles. You can cite the textbook for themes if you wish.
No title of the journal article or author’s first names in the body of the paper. No direct quotes from journal
articles. You can only use direct quotes from your cultural product if they are pertinent to discussion.