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Doing Sociology

Category: Sociology

SOC 101

“Doing Sociology” Project  (300 points total)


One of the best ways to “see” sociology at work is to participate in it firsthand. For this paper, you will be “doing sociology” through content analysis and using examples in the media to look at your choice of a particular social phenomenon in society.

Choose one form of media from the following list for your research.  You may select from:

Song lyrics at least 8 songs (must then include all the lyrics)
TV shows at least 5 episodes (1 hour) or 10 episodes of 30 minutes
Movies at least 4 movies
Online news articles at least 10 articles (include a copy of the articles)
Online ads at least 15 ads (must include ad images)

**Any other suggestions, must receive permission by instructor beforehand.


Do the following steps in this order.

a)      Select one Barkan chapter to focus on. Based on the focus of that chapter, create a research question and post that for feedback. (10 pts.)  :

For example:  You could choose to focus on Chapter 11 (Families) and develop a research question such as “How are single parents portrayed in Hollywood movies?”

Generally, you should be focusing on portrayals in your form of media.  This question needs to be approved by the instructor at anytime up until (see deadline on Canvas)

b)      Create a question sheet. (20 pts.)  This is a method of recording what you specifically want to look at, but you have to think about this before you start looking at your media. This sheet needs to be approved BEFORE you begin examining your media.  You can get your question sheet approved at any time up until (see deadline on Canvas). (It is a good idea to get this approved early so that you have enough time to do your research. You cannot change your topic or question after this date.)

c)      Choose your sample or collection of media. Be careful here–you should narrow your selection by certain pre-determined criteria (which you’ll talk about in your methods) such as a specific time frame, highest ratings or movies based on a certain theme. DO NOT choose your sample based on movies or shows you like or know contain what you are looking for! (Why not? Because this is a biased sample then…)  Talk to me about how to select your sample.

d)     Watch your movies/listen to your songs/read your newspaper articles.  As you do so, you will fill out your question sheet, writing down everything you notice and trying to fill out your question sheet. Don’t worry if there are some categories that you leave blank.

e)      Analyze your question sheets.  What patterns do you see?  What stood out? What do the patterns mean? THEN…






Think of a catchy title. Then, in about 6-8 pages, address the following sections.  Use these headings and address the following points:


I.  Introduction (about 1 page)

  • Introduce your research question and why you chose it.
  • What makes this topic sociologically important?


II.  Methods (about 1 page)

Content Analysis

  • Introduce the titles of the sources you analyzed and why (be specific; for example, if 4 different movies, which ones, what year and why?) What criteria did you use to select your sample? How did you decide which movies to watch?
  • How did you collect the data?  (i.e how did you record your observations?) What specifically did you look at and why? What were the categories on your question sheet?
  • How did you then organize your data? (i.e. how did you start to look for patterns?)
  • Did you run into difficulties in your data collection?  What are the limitations of doing this kind of research?  What are the limitations to this study specifically?


III.  Findings and Analysis (about 4 pages)

Findings = description of patterns found; Analysis = what do the patterns mean?

This section should be the main part of your paper and should be organized and coherent.  You cannot simply describe or summarize your findings, you must analyze them. That is, tell me what they mean.

  • Discuss any patterns you found and/or relationships between aspects.
  • Organize this section according to the themes or patterns you found (using subheadings).  Use some specific examples from your data to support the themes. See the examples posted online.
  • Connect to sociology. How might your findings relate to a sociological theory discussed in class? Can you connect some concepts discussed in the lectures/the text to your research? Weave this into your paper and reference specific articles or the textbook.
  • So what? What do these patterns tell you about society? What consequences do they have?
  • See the sample papers I posted in the folder for good examples.


IV.  Conclusion (about 1 page)

  • This should summarize the major points of your paper.  What conclusions can you draw from your research?
  • What further questions about your topic need to be explored? (If someone else was to do a similar study, what should they look at?)


V. APPENDIX (separate page, considered additional to your 6-8 pages)

Include a list of the movies watched, song lyrics with details of dates, year, artist etc., and your completed, filled out question sheets.