SOC 4980 Assignments

All assignments below should be typed using 10 or 12 point type, double-spaced, with one inch margins.

Assignment 1 (20 Points)

Write a 3-5 page essay explaining or analyzing an issue from the sociological perspective, showing how the issue can be understood in terms of the historical, cultural, structural, organizational, and situational forces that shape it.  Use your "sociological imagination" to explain the issue by discussing how it is influenced or affected by institutional structures (political, economic, religious, educational, familial, etc.); social inequality and stratification (economic, racial, gender, or age); and/or cultural values, beliefs, norms, rites, and rituals.  Avoid individualistic or psychological explanations.  You may use whatever resources you wish to help stimulate your "sociological imagination," but no specific number of resources is required.  The emphasis is on your ability to explain or make sense of the problem or issue sociologically whether you use own ideas or borrow ideas from others.  If you use outside resources, be sure to cite them appropriately.

Assignment 2 (20 Points)

Write a 3-5 page essay comparing and contrasting the major theoretical traditions in sociology (functionalism, conflict, and interpretive/interactionist), mentioning the work of at least one major theorist from each tradition.  Address the strengths and limitations of each and indicate which approach you favor and explain why?  Finally, briefly discuss the contributions of feminist, minority, and other voices to sociological theory? 

 Assignment 3 (20 Points)

Write a 3-5 page essay discussing the similarities and differences between quantitative and qualitative methods, emphasizing the strengths and limitations to each?  Next, copy and bring to class two research articles, one that uses quantitative methods and one that uses qualitative methods.  Identify and be prepared to discuss the following for each article, (a) the research problem/question(s), (b) sampling and participant recruitment strategies, (c) methods of data collection, (d) data analysis strategies, and (e) ethical considerations. Also be prepared to discuss whether the methods used seem appropriate given the research questions and theoretical framing of the project. 

Assignment 4 (50 Points)

Write a 3-5 page paper, excluding reference pages, in which you:

  1. Identify a sociological topic on which you would like to do research and indicate in a few sentences why you think the topic is worth studying.
  2. Review and summarize the academic and professional literature relevant to your topic. Emphasize literature that reports original research substantively related to your topic, but you may include works that are theoretically or methodologically relevant, especially if substantive literature is scarce. Include a minimum of 10 sources in your summary, including at least 7 articles from scholarly periodicals or journals. (Click here to view a list of widely cited sociology journals.) You may also include books and edited volumes, theses and dissertations, government documents and reports, papers presented at professional conferences, and scholarly works from the Internet. Avoid non-academic articles and books, including web sites that do not cite sources or provide empirical evidence to support claims. To locate resources, you can use Infotrac, Sociological Abstracts, the Social Science Index, Social Science Citation Index, bibliographies from other works, the library's electronic card catalog, dissertation abstracts, indices to government documents, local professionals and scholars, the Internet, and other databases and indices. Click here to access sociology databases available through the Walker Library.  Do not simply list and summarize individual articles. Instead, integrate the literature into a single, consistent essay. Your goal is to summarize "the facts" about your topic in concise, well-written paragraphs. Put similar and related information together. You may want to organize your review around the major areas of research in the studies you have read or around the major findings reported in the research. How you organize your review is up to you as long as it is logical, connected and integrated. Make sure you cite your sources in the body of your paper using ASA style. (Click her to view an online version of the ASA Style Guide.) You will also need a list of references at the end of the paper, again following ASA style. You must include a reference for every work you cite, but only for works you cite. (Click here to view some sample literature reviews.Do not cut and paste large blocks of text from the internet. To do so without appropriate citation is plagairism. Even if cited correctly, a review built almost entirely of quotes from other sources is inappropropriate. The review should be your summary of relevant thought and knowledge of the topic you have chosen.
  3. Clearly and concisely state a research question (or questions) you would like to address. Choose a single or a small number of related questions and express them as simply and clearly as possible. Then, depending on your orientation and the nature of your research question(s), develop either testable hypotheses or sensitizing concepts/questions. Remember that hypotheses are statements, not questions. They typically express relationships between two or more variables that are believed to exist in the empirical world. These relationships may be causal or simply associational.  If causal, be sure to clearly state which variables are causing other variables to change and whether these causal relationships are direct, indirect, or involve interactions. Whenever possible, you should also state the type of association that exists between the variables, whether positive, negative, curvilinear, non-directional, or none at all. If you have several related hypotheses, you may want to express your hypotheses as a path model. (Click here to view some sample hypotheses.)  Sensitizing concepts and questions are concepts, ideas, notions, or questions that guide observations and data collection in inductive qualitative research. Sensitizing concepts are the starting point and inform the researcher where to look, for what to look, and give him/her some idea of what they can expect to see. In the latter sense, they serve as pseudo-hypotheses. Like hypotheses, sensitizing concepts can be drawn from theory, previous research and the researchers own interests and concerns.
Assignment 5 (50 Points)

Write a 3-5 page paper, excluding attachments, describing the method of data collection you will use to address your research questions/hypotheses. First you will state your choice of data collection method and indicate why you think this methods is appropriate.  Next you will discuss the details of the method you have chosen.

1.  If you choose to use an experiment you should:

For an example of what this assignment should look like, click here.

2  2.  If you choose to do a survey you should:

For a sample survey you may use as a guide click here.

3.  If you choose to use existing data you should:

4.  If you choose to use content analysis you should:

5.  If you choose to do ethnographic field research you should:

6.  If you choose to use a case study you should:

7.  If you choose to use in depth interviewing or focus groups you should:

Assignment 6 (20 Points)

Write a 1-3 page paper discussing the sampling and selection procedures you will use to address your research questions/hypotheses. Be sure to clearly define the population of interest and discuss whether probability or non-probability techniques will be used. If probability techniques are chosen, discuss the availability of a sampling frame, the specific sampling strategy to be employed (simple random, systematic random, stratified random, multistage cluster design), and the desired sample size. If non-probability techniques are to be used, be sure to justify the use of non-probability sampling, discuss the specific method of generating your sample (convenience, quota, snowball, self-select, or purposive), and, again, indicate the desired sample size.

Assignment 7 (50 Points)

Write a 1-3 page paper, excluding attachments, discussing your strategy for managing and analyzing the data you collect. 

1. If you are collecting quantitative data, you will need to discuss the following, if applicable.

2.  If you are collecting qualitative data, you will need to discuss the following, if applicable.

Assignment 8 (50 Points)

Edit and combine assignments 4-7 into a proposal describing in detail how you plan to address your research questions.  The proposal should contain (a) an introduction clearly stating the topic of the research and the question(s) to be addressed, why the topic is worth studying, a brief summary of methods to be used in the study, and a concluding statement of the expected outcome and benefits of the study (1-2 pages); (b) a review of the relevant literature followed by a restatement of the research question and a discussion the specific hypotheses/sensitizing concepts the study will address (3-5 pages, excluding reference pages which should appear at the end of the proposal); and (c) a methodology section that discusses in detail how data will be collected an analyzed in the study (5-10 pages, excluding appendices and attachments). The total length of the proposal should be approximately 10-20 pages of narrative plus appendices and attachments depending on the topic and the methods chosen.

Assignment 9 (100 Points)

Once the proposal has been approved, carry out the reseach and write a final report.  The research report will include a version of the research proposal written in Assignment 8 edited to reflect that the project is now complete rather than proposed (change verb tenses, etc.), plus a discussion of your findings and a conclusion.  The findings and conclusion section will add an additional 3-10 pages depending on the topic and the research method you have chosen.  This assignment is due May 2 during our scheduled exam period and will serve as the final exam.

Assignment 10 (20 Points)

Using a variety of resources, find at least 10 jobs for which undergraduate sociology majors qualify, then write a 1-3 page commentary discussing the types of employers looking for sociology majors, the industries/sectors represented, types of jobs available, and the skills being sought. Next, write a letter of application and develop a resume for one of the 10 jobs you found.