Modern Marriage

Myths and Reality of Marriage and Family

Summer 2020

Dr. Shannon Shen

Your second paper requires you to read Andrew Cherlin’s 2004 article “The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage.” In a paper of 5 pages or less, you will respond to the prompt which compares Cherlin’s argument to the topics we discussed in class. As you read the article, keep in mind that while every couple has a unique relationship, there are macro-level influences on marriage that affect couples and which can be different depending on social class, race, gender, location, etc. Relationships and marriages can also be impacted by sexism or racism as well as by institutional arenas, like the law or economy.



The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to practice reading and understanding scholarly journal articles, and second, to critically consider and compare the article to both course material and your own experiences. There are three required sections to the paper. You do not need to include headings or subheadings in the paper, but the reader should be able to tell where one section ends and another begins based on the distinction between each section’s content. Please see the rubric at the end of this document so that you know the requirements and expectations necessary to write a successful paper.

Section 1: (Suggested length: 2½ pages). This first section demonstrates that you read and understand the article. For this section as well as the remainder of the paper, it is better for you to paraphrase ideas rather than to quote from the text when you are citing either the Cherlin article or course material. This shows that you comprehend the writing and can say it in your own words. Whether paraphrasing or quoting an author directly, you must credit the source of your information using ASA citation style. In this section, be sure to mention the title and author’s name.

In section 1, provide answers to the following questions:

According to Cherlin, what does the deinstitutionalization of marriage refer to?
What is the thesis of the paper?
What two transitions occurred to usher in the change to marriage Cherlin discusses?
What additional evidence or examples does Cherlin provide to support his thesis?
What reasons does Cherlin provide as to why people still get married?
In his final paragraph, what message does Cherlin leave to his readers?

Section 2: (Suggested length: 2 pages). Cherlin argues that modern marriage is deinstitutionalized because it is now increasingly focused on personal growth and individual fulfillment rather than being about economic need or companionship. In the second half of the paper, you will draw on course material and your experiences to provide your own educated opinion about the importance of marriage.

In section 2, provide answers to the following question:

Do you think marriage is becoming more valued or more devalued in contemporary society? Support your argument with at least two key points from the textbook and at least one key point from personal experience, popular culture, or a news story. Remember to include citations. You can also cite the Cherlin article here as needed.

Conclusion Section: (Suggested length: ½ page/1 paragraph). When scholars write a journal article, their goal is to have their readers find something useful, interesting, or even controversial in their ideas and interpretations. Answer the following question as a way to conclude your paper: What did you learn; or, will you change your mind about anything as a result of reading this article?


Double spaced, 1 inch margins
Times New Roman, 12 point font
Maximum of 5 pages of writing, with a 6th page for references
Use ASA citation style
Make sure the format you save and submit your paper in can be opened in Microsoft Word. Keep in mind that some Mac programs are not compatible. I will not be able to grade your paper if I cannot open the file, and no late papers will be accepted.

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