Archive for April, 2015

For Tuesday, 5/5 (DEV)

April 30, 2015
  1. HW: Sentence Fragments Exercise. This is something we need to work on, judging from the papers I’ve seen thus far.
  2. Paul J. Draus and Robert G. Carlson, ‘Trading Sex for Crack: Gender and Power’
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For Monday, 5/4 (METH)

April 30, 2015

Today we touched on a number of issues concerning the midterm; here I’ll just mention one or two items that are on the front of my brain: It was suggested that my standards of writing are biased (towards what? and caused by what? consider our textbook definition of bias here…); but if you are unsure why I made ‘AWK.’ comments on your paper, I invite you to come and see me. I will be more than happy to explain which rules of grammar/punctuation or principles of good writing prompted me to make that comment in that particular instance. And by the way, I’m not claiming that you’re all bad writers; I’m saying that you need to be more careful, and more polished. As for the final, perhaps we need to review some basic concepts by way of an example or two (and perhaps a little in-class writing review would also be helpful). So for Monday, please read this short piece from the conservative City Journal on the Baltimore riots. Contrary to the way these riots have been discussed by the liberal mainstream media, Heather Mac Donald claims that

What happened [Monday] evening in Baltimore was simply a larger and better-covered version of the flash mobs that have beset American cities for the last half-decade, in which black youths gather via social media to steal from stores and assault whites.

Mac Donald makes a host of controversial empirical claims that cry out for empirical analysis and verification (unlike the New York Times editorial she links to, however, Mac Donald doesn’t really cite any empirical research). Let’s discuss how we might design a research project to do exactly that. Doing so will allow us to closely examine every stage of the process. Hence, our agenda for Monday:

  1. Writing Review: Read this review of the rules regarding sentence fragments, then do this exercise for HW. We might do a few more of these in class, if time permits and if the situation requires.
  2. Heather Mac Donald, ‘Baltimore in Flames’*

Wednesday we’ll return to the subject of field research, as well as to the relevant chapter.

For Thursday, 4/30 (DEV)

April 28, 2015
  1. Pete Simi and Robert Futrell, ‘Negotiating White Power Activist Stigma’

By the way, you should also be reading Dick Hebdige’s Subculture book on the side. We’re going to focus on just a few sections, and we won’t discuss them for a few weeks, but you’ll really need to read the whole book (it’s a short one, remember) for context. Many of you will find it challenging because of its fairly heavy theoretical underpinnings; just browse it, let it wash over you, and concentrate on sussing out the basic gist. I’ll inform you presently as to which sections to revisit and read more closely.

For Wednesday, 4/29 (METH)

April 27, 2015
  1. Ruane, ‘Watch and Learn: Field Research’ (Ch. 11)

Guys, I know the grades look a bit harsh. But there were some significant problems with the midterms, and I want you all to be well aware of the issues here. It’s still possible to end up with a nice, shiny final grade, so long as you really rework those midterms. Remember, I’m here to help.

HW: Qualitative Interview (AMSR)

April 27, 2015

In this assignment you will conduct an interview with an individual in an area related to a theme (ideally, your research proposal topic).

The subjects must be adults and must not be individuals over whom you have any actual or perceived power, such as clients at a job or field placement site. You will (a) prepare a number (at least 5) of open ended questions designed to elicit in-depth responses, (b) carry out the interview and (c) write up the results (a transcript plus paragraph(s) describing–but not naming–the person you interviewed, where the interview took place, and very briefly summarizing the interview. Please consider carefully whom you will interview if the interview is on a potentially upsetting topic. You must promise confidentiality to your respondent, so if you interview a relative or friend you may be put in an awkward situation in the future. Voluntary, informed consent must be obtained for the interview, although in order to protect the respondant’s privacy you should not ask for signed consent.

The consent form should be along these lines:

My name is _________. I would like to interview you about _________ for a sociology class on research methods that I am taking. The interview is totally voluntary, and you can stop at any time or not answer any particular question. Your name will not be revealed to anyone and only my instructor will read the interview transcript. The interview should take about thirty minutes. If you have any questions you can contact my instructor at Lehman College at 919-967-8969. I would appreciate it very much if you would allow me to do the interview.

In the interview you should concentrate on a small part of the subject’s life experience, preferably something that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Some examples would be:

  • Health. Someone who has had an illness, a care taker, someone in a health profession.
  • Religion. A memorable event in a person’s religious experience. For example, converting to a new religion. leaving a religion, participation in a ritual such as baptism, bat mitzvah or confirmation, or ordination as a member of the clergy.
  • Work and Families. How someone balances work and family demands, a first job, how a person got any particular job and what it was like to learn it, having a child.
  • School. Math experiences, dropping out of school, deciding to go to college, becoming a teacher, finding day care.
  • Immigration. The experience of immigrating, early experiences in the U.S., deciding to come to the U.S., becoming a citizen.
  • Age and Aging. Becoming a retired person, experiences with the healthcare system, relationships with children/family as someone ages; moving to a nursing home; becoming a caregiver for an aged parent.

In addition to the interview, you should observe the person’s normal surroundings and/or the surroundings in the place where you do the interview and his or her appearance. Hand in: A description of the surroundings and the person, a brief summary of the interview, and the interview transcript.

For Friday, 5/1 (AMSR)

April 27, 2015
  1. HW: Qualitative Interview
  2. Chambliss and Schutt, Chapter 6
  3. Patten, PER, Topics 45-49
  4. Film: The City and the Self (Stanley Milgram, 1972; tentative)

For Tuesday, 4/28 (DEV)

April 23, 2015
  1. Martin S. Weinberg, Colin J. Williams, and Douglas W. Pryor, ‘Becoming Bisexual’

For Monday, 4/27 (DEV)

April 23, 2015
  1. Howard Becker, ‘Learning to Observe in Chicago’*

Good discussion yesterday; too bad we didn’t get to talk about Kalim’s portrait of Tavi Gevinson (one of the most viewed vids on the Times Magazine site), but it’s here if you want to check it out. Next week we’ll start our discussion of fieldwork with a personal reminiscence by one of the masters of the art.

For Thursday, 4/23 (DEV)

April 22, 2015

Change of plans:

  1. Dawn Rothe, ‘War Profiteering: Iraq and Halliburton’

For Wednesday, 4/22 (METH)

April 22, 2015
  1. Ruane, ‘Talking Heads: The Interview’ (Ch. 10)
  2. Special Guest: Filmmaker Kalim Armstrong