You are to develop a slide or video presentation that provides a tour of social stratification in the Detroit area. Tour areas should include the following elements: Housing and neighborhoods, retail stores, health care facilities, churches, places of work, schools, recreational facilities, transportation, etc. The central question that you are addressing is how do people experience this society differently as a result of their positions in systems of stratification.
This project requires participants to explore the relationship between race and residence here in our own metropolitan area. Students will be required to collect and analyze residential data from the 1990 U.S. Census. You are to develop a visual presentation which illustrates the racial/ethnic compositions of various cities and suburbs that make up the greater Metro-Detroit area. You will additionally provide an analysis of how SES is related to housing patterns, what causes the housing patterns that can be observed, and what outcomes these patterns have on race relations.
What is a drug? How do we define it? What drugs do we consume? What are good drugs and what are bad drugs? What determines whether they are good or bad? Why do we consume drugs? What are the social contexts in which drug use is consumed? What social contexts are defined as normative, what contexts are defined as deviant? Who controls the definition of these contexts and the consumption of drugs? Sources of information: pharmacist, drug counselor, law enforcement officials, and various consumers of drugs (need not be identified by name).
Review five of the most popular children's videos. Focus on animated programming since it is generally targeted at the youngest children. You may also channel surf children's programs and identify themes. How are males and females portrayed? What implicit roles do social class and ethnicity play? What problems are presented to be solved an how are they solved? How are villains portrayed? How are heroes portrayed? This is a content analysis of television programming and cinema.
What are the dominant messages in the newspapers that we read? What are the principle themes or issues? What aspects of our society are not presented? Who defines what is news? From whose perspective in the society do we define news? This project requires both a content analysis and interviews with news editors about what determines 'what is news'.
What assumptions about the nature of the society and human nature underlie the judgments of media decision-makers? This project entails: 1) interviews with representatives of various ideological streams in print, radio, television media and 2) an ideological content analysis of media. You are to describe the dominant perspectives in the media. Describe what ideological perspectives are presented on the central issues in public discourse. Identify viewpoints outside the dominant ideological perspective. Describe their content and location in media. This is a content analysis and will entail interviews with representatives of the media.
What does the term 'identity' mean? How do we figure out who we are and where we fit into society? What happens to people who fit between socially rigid categorizations? How do they understand their racial identity - as Black, White, biracial, or something else? This project requires you to locate and interview ten people who have one Black and one White parent about how they identify themselves and the social factors that have influenced their choice(s).
Analyze five music videos and the lyrics from five songs which could be classified as 'gangsta rap.' What images are being projected in the videos? How is violence portrayed? How are men and women represented in the videos and music? What do these representations say about what it means to be masculine or feminine? Do these images influence how men and women think about themselves and each other? What role does race play in the imagery? What effect does this music have on youth culture? Who are the major decision-makers in the industry and how do they shape the music? This project is a detailed content analysis of music videos and rap lyrics and requires some background research into the organization of the music industry.
What messages are communicated to women through the media? What does it mean to be 'feminine' according to magazines such as Essence, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, or Ms. How is femininity defined similarly and differently in these different magazines? What ethnic and racial differences exist in definitions of beauty? To what degree do women use these images to assess or shape their own beauty or femininity? How many women read each of these magazines on a regular basis? Who owns and produces these magazines? Does this type of media serve as an agent of socialization, or are the magazines purely entertainment? This project will require detailed content analysis of magazines geared towards women as well as some background research into the magazine readership and demographics.
All Field research projects are due on the last day of class. Papers should be approximately 5-10 pages in length. They are to be computer generated and thoroughly proof-read for spelling and grammatical errors. Format your paper as an empirical research paper. Specifically, your paper should look like the following:
I. Introduction and Research Question
What are you studying and why is it important or interesting.
II. Hypothesis (if you are exploring a causal question)
Here you should state your hypothesis and explain how they develop out of your theoretical perspective (be it functionalist, conflict, or symbolic interactionist) or out of existing research.
Describe the methodology that you used (how you collected your data and what process you used to analyze that data).
This section should describe your findings in detail. What did you find? Did it support or fail to support your hypothesis? What generalizations (theoretical or empirical) can you draw from your data analysis. What directions does your work point to for future research.
Special Thanks to Dr. R. Iadicola of IPFW. Most of the field research projects listed above derived from his poster session at the Annual Meetings of the North Central Sociological Association in 1996. His course entitled 'Shock Sociology' serves as the basis from which this course has been developed.