sociology project

FIELDWORK OPTION A: Analysis of Children’s Clothing
Go to a local department store to gather data. Walk through the toddler clothing departments and take careful note of the differences in clothing available for boys and girls. The most obvious dissimilarity is that girls wear skirts and dresses and boys don’t. But what about contrasts in style, color, prints, and texture of the fabrics – are there any differences in the way the clothes are decorated? In accessories? Do any major themes emerge in the comparisons of the clothing? You should address the following questions:
o What sorts of messages about masculinity and femininity come across subtly (or not so subtly) through the clothing?
o How might these clothes reflect and affect our cultural beliefs about boys and girls?
You should write a paper about your observations, explaining how your findings relate to the topics discussed in the readings and in class (particularly the readings on socialization and culture).
Your paper should be about 750-1,000 words.  Turn in your detailed fieldnotes along with your paper.
FIELDWORK OPTION B: Social Class in the Supermarket
Go to a supermarket in one of the more affluent areas of town, and then visit a supermarket in one of the poorest sections of town. (Note: you must actually visit the stores for this assignment, even if you have been there before. You will miss a great deal if you simply rely upon your memory.) On your notepad, make detailed observations about the condition of the stores. Although you are free to observe whatever details you think are important, at a minimum you should address the following questions:
o How is the cleanliness of the stores?
o How is the politeness of the employees?
o Are there security guards or visible security systems? If so, what are they like, and how do you think their presence (or lack of!) affects the customers’ mental states?
o What range of items is available in the store? For example, do they sell only canned goods, or do they also have produce, dairy, toiletries, hardware, videotape rentals, etc.?
o What are the prices like? Compare the prices on several identical items.
o How fresh are the produce, fruits, vegetables, milk, and meat?
o What other things do you observe that differentiate the social class statuses of the neighborhoods in which the stores are located?
For this project, you should be creative and observant. Draw from the readings (particularly the chapter on social class, although you may find some useful information in the race/ethnicity chapter as well). Present your findings about social class in a sociological manner (that is, you should use important and relevant sociological terms to describe your findings).
Your paper should be about 750-1,000 words.  Turn in your detailed fieldnotes along with your paper.
FIELDWORK OPTION C: Race on Primetime Television
In recent years, some critics have claimed that people of color are not very visible on primetime television – and when they are, they are not often presented in positive roles. Watch a sample of primetime shows for one week (you should watch at least 5 hours of primetime television on the major networks) and systematically keep track of the race of the characters, as well as the ways they are portrayed. (Note: you will actually have to watch television and take notes for this assignment – do not rely upon your memory of these T.V. shows. If you rely on your memory, you will miss a great deal.) Before starting this assignment, you will have to decide what “primetime” means (be sure to explain this in your paper). You will also need to figure out how to gauge someone’s “race” (you will need to explain this in your paper as well). In your paper, you should address the following:
o How many characters of the different races were portrayed?
o How important were the different characters to the plot/storyline?
o How were the characters portrayed – positively or negatively; stereotypical or unstereotypical?  What were their roles?  What did they do?
Be descriptive. Present your findings in a sociological manner (that is, you should use important and relevant sociological terms to describe your findings).
Your paper should be about 750-1,000 words.  Turn in your detailed observation notes along with your paper.
FIELDWORK INSTRUCTIONS: Follow these instructions when working on your project (i.e. these instructions apply to EVERY fieldwork option!)
This is a guide for you as you work on your fieldwork.  Please read this carefully before engaging in your fieldwork.
1)     The fieldwork assignments require that you look at the world around you.  You should do your best to look at the world with a scientific eye.  In other words, try your best to be objective, and rely on the actual evidence you see, not on your guesses or assumptions.  Do NOT enter into the fieldwork with expectations about what you’re going to find or learn.
2)     Do NOT wait until the last minute to begin this project.  You will want to make your observations for the project at least a week before the assignment is due.
3)     You must make observations for this assignment.  Do NOT rely on your memory of these things – you will miss a great deal and your grade will probably suffer.  In other words, just because you’ve seen children playing before, this does not mean you can write a good, detailed, analytical paper about it.
4)   As you make your observations, you should have a pad of paper and pencil/pen with you.  It is an excellent idea to prepare the notepad for notetaking before you begin.  Write the date, time, and location at the top of the pad.  Next, read the assignment carefully, making a table with headings, rows, and columns that correlate to the components/questions of the assignment.  These preparations will help organize your notes and will make your observations much more easy and accurate (REMEMBER: your notes will be graded!).  It will also help you answer the assignment completely. Since you will be submitting your notes to me electronically, you will need to type your notes in an organized and systematic manner (tables are frequently very helpful). I will grade your notes on their degree of organization, detail, and depth.
5)   While you’re making observations, be as thorough as possible in your note taking.  Be detailed!  Jot down all of your observations, ideas, and hunches.  You won’t be able to include everything that’s written in your notes in the final paper, but you want as much detail as possible in your notes.  I can’t stress enough how important extremely thorough notes are.  Students who have excellent notes almost always have excellent papers!
6)   After you’ve finished making observations, review your notes.  Search for themes and patterns.  Do your best to make sense of what you saw.  You are free to talk with a classmate (or me!) about your ideas.
7)   Begin writing your paper.  Your introduction paragraph should describe what you did, and it should begin to “frame” your paper in sociological thought and/or concepts.  (What did you observe?  Where did you go?  What did you watch or read?  What is the purpose of your project?  Did you make any important decisions that might affect your findings?  What key sociological ideas does this project relate to?)  The body of your paper should describe what you saw and should address all of the questions in the assignment.  (What patterns did you find?  And how do those patterns relate to the course concepts?  Be sure to discuss the readings, lectures, and films when applicable.)  Your conclusion should wrap-up your paper. (What did your observations teach you about society and sociology?)
8)   Be sure to present your observations and findings as clearly as possible.  You might decide to include pictures, photographs, or a table or chart.  Sometimes, visual aids help the reader “see” the patterns more easily.  THIS IS NOT REQUIRED, however.  If you decide to include a visual aid of some kind, it will not count toward the page requirement. 
9) Citation format.  In order to successfully complete this assignment, you should not refer to any additional written sources besides our course textbook. As a result, you can simply cite the textbook in the body of your paper as follows: (Newman, p.___). 
10) Your paper should be typed, double-spaced, in standard font.  Please do not go over 1,000 words, although I will not penalize you if you do go over the limit a little.
11) Do not forget to also submit your observation notes!  It is a good idea to simply paste them at the end of your paper and submit it as one complete document.
As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me.  I am here to help you.  Have fun with this!

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