Sociological Methods


A Guide to Sociology 2211

Oliver Garretson is the Teaching Assistant this semester (Spring '17).  You can contact him at ogarre1@lsu.edu to arrange a meeting time.

  • Final (Spring '17): Saturday, May 6, 7:30 - 9:30 am, in our classroom
  • Grades

 


 

Assignments - due dates

(watch this section for possible changes)

  • Initial class requirement: complete the Human Subjects Protection Training at the NIH website. Go to http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php, take the training, and obtain a certificate of completion.  You’ll have to create an account there if you don't have one.  Then you’ll need to print out the certificate of completion, or save it as a file that you can print out. This is a class requirement necessary to pass the class. The LSU Institutional Review Board (IRB) is requiring this of us. See the assignment below for more information about the LSU IRB.
    • This assignment is due at the end of the second full week of the semester.
    • If you already have a certificate of completion, you don't have to do it again, but you'll need to give me a copy of your certificate.
    • Note that it may take you 3 hours to complete this training, so pls plan ahead!
    • At the LSU IRB website, here, it states, "LSU requires that all researchers (students and faculty) complete the NIH on-line human subjects training. It takes about 3 hours to complete the course. Upon successfully completing the course, you will receive an electronic certificate. ...No IRB applications will be approved until all of the researchers' certificates are obtained." We must comply with this.

  • Jan 20: Go to the U.S. Census website, especially the "Quick Facts" section (see links below).  Compare the economic level of Baton Rouge (city) to a rich place and a poor place, and look for two or three possible reasons for the differences.  Look through the Quick Facts tables till you find some statistics you think are good indicators of economic level and the other factors you are looking for.  List the results side by side by making a table with the places down the side (rows) and the variables you've chosen along the top (columns).  A spreadsheet program will make a nice table for you.  Here are some places to try comparisons for:
    • Rich places: Marin (County), CA; Fairfax (County), VA; Darien (city), CT; Scarsdale (village), NY; Lake Forest (city), IL.
    • Poor places: Harlan (County), KY; Tensas (Parish), LA; Mora (County), NM; Shannon (County), SD

    • Note - as of the beginning of 2012, the Census reorganized its website fairly extensively.
      • The 2010 decennial census no longer includes facts like income, education, commute times, and various other things. Most of these issues are now on the American Community Survey (ACS).
      • The ACS is conducted every year, rather than every ten years, but because they ask fewer people, they have to aggregate data over several years if the place is too small. (see their FAQs for more information.)

    • Here are some suggestions for looking up data. (There are more links on my links page):

      • The Census "Quick Facts" (here) is the easiest place to start. Click through the prompts to select the geographical place you want, and you'll get a table with a large variety of facts.
        • When you get to one of the tables, you can then follow the links from "Want more? Browse data sets for ... [place]" just above the table on the right.
        • For instance, the table for East Baton Rouge (parish) is here.
        • I also put a version here, in case you can't get through to the census website.

      • The "American FactFinder" (here) is the main portal now for getting census information, but it's not easy to use.
        • Try poking around here. This section was always a little hard to use if you're new at the census site, and unfortunately, I think they've actually made it harder to use. Do your best, but you don't have to use this section.
        • You can access zip code areas here, but since they're small in population, they may not give you data.
        • Hint: You may need to search on "Topics" one by one. It seems when you select several topics, the site only gives you tables that include all those topics in them (the "intersection" in Venn diagram terms). This makes it very cumbersome.

      • The 2010 Census page (here) is not hard to use, but as noted above, it only gives very limited information about each place. I don't recommend using it for this assignment.

      • Several other section of the census site work shockingly badly, I find.

      • I found a few mobile apps, but as of now (1/2014), I haven't seen anything all that great. Take a look at apps from the census & esri, for instance.

[For the following assignments, please turn in your SPSS output along with the exercise page from Healey.  Abbreviations for the following assignments: RR=Research Report; IP=Independent Project; CA=Comparative Analysis]

  • Jan 25: Turn in five survey questions that you find in the GSS that might be usable for your group's module for the GSS subset that we will assemble.  Each group will discuss their questions and choose two of them for the group.  
    • GSS Data Explorer is the portal for searching & using GSS data. You will need to register to use it, but it only takes a moment. (You will have to confirm on an email they send you.) ... Search for questions by going to "Search for Data" or the "Explore GSS Data" button.
    • Important: Print out the exact question text from the web, including the exact answer categories, the exact years asked, and include the exact question mnemonic (the funny abbreviated question name) from the GSS, so that we can make sure to access the correct questions .  Include whatever percentaged results you find for the whole population (sub-population breakdowns optional).
    • Also. Pls email me the mnemonic of each of the 5 questions you select. Pls do that before class. I'll use that to cut & paste from the web & make a webpage of our survey-in-progress.

  • Jan 27: Turn in 2 of the following Exercises in Healey, Chap. 4 Religiosity - RR4.1, IP4.1, IP4.2, CA 4.1

  • Feb 1: Turn in five more GSS questions that might be usable for your group's module for the GSS subset we will assemble. See the subpoints for the previous assignment for the details.

  • Feb 3: Turn in 2 of the following Exercises in Healey, Chap. 5 Attitudes toward abortion - RR5.2, IP5.1, CA5.2

  • Feb 8: We will discuss the questionnaire today.

  • Feb 10: Turn in 2 of the following Exercises in Healey, Chap. 7 Crime - RR7.4, IP7.1, IP7.2, IP7.3, CA7.1

  • Feb 13: Turn in 5 photos of some social situation to which you have access. You have to take the photos; they can't be photos you find on the internet or elsewhere. It might be family, or street shots, or an event. It CAN be photos of other students, but we'll give you a bonus point if you do something not showing students (just so they're not all the same topic!). Also write a one-page commentary discussing the social element shown in the photos. It could be the interaction among the people shown, it could be the social setting, or whatever you think would be interesting.
    • Send the photos as attachments by email to the instructors, as well as your page of written commentary. This electronic submission is mandatory, but you can also turn in the photos and commentary printed out on paper if you want.
    • It will probably work best if you show some of the setting around the subject. It's possible to socially analyze a close-up of a face, but it's easier if you see more of the surroundings, and also easier if it's not just a blank wall in the background.
    • There are lots of ways to think about the social aspect. For instance, if the photo is a candid, you can describe what the subjects are doing in the photo. If it's a posed photo, you can describe the social "presentation of self" of the subject. You can also describe what the surroundings tell us about the social setting.
    • You can use any kind of camera you want, including the one on your phone. The photos don't have to be "artistic," but they should be clear enough that you can see what you're trying to show.
    • The photos should not all be "selfies." You can include one photo showing only yourself, and you can appear in one or two of the photos, but not more. The photos should mostly be of people other than yourself.
    • Pls do not photograph anything that is too private or sensitive or compromising to the subject. No illegal activities, violence, nudity, substance abuse/overuse, or the like. We will discuss issues of privacy and confidentiality in social research soon. For now, simply begin thinking about the issue, and know that the photos will not be published, or shown outside the classroom, or shown to the class without your permission.
    • See this page for an example of a photo essay done by Weil. It is a "portrait" of a New Orleans neighborhood. We arranged to photograph a family who agreed to be part of the project. We also videotaped what they said about the neighborhood, transcribed it, and put the pictures and their words on the web page. We also walked around the neighborhood and asked other people if they would be in the project. Most, but not all, agreed. This is one of a planned series of "neighborhood portraits."
    • This assignment will help us think about qualitative methods.

  • Feb 15: Discussion of the 5 photos. I will upload the photos to a website, and you can choose to have them shown for class discussion.
    • Tthe photos will not be accessible to other class members or publicly without your permission, and we will not view them in class without your permission.
    • You will get an extra credit point for showing and introducing your photos for class discussion. This is voluntary.

  • Feb 17: Turn in 2 of the following Exercises in Healey, Chap. 9 Inequality and gender - RR9.3, IP9.1, IP9.2, CA9.1, CA9.2, CA9.3

  • Feb 20: Turn in 5 more photos. This is a continuation of the assignment from last week. Follow the same instructions as above.

  • Feb 22: Discussion of the second 5 photos. I will again upload the photos to a website, and you can choose to have them shown for class discussion. The assignment will be the same as last week.

  • Feb 24: Extra credit quiz - Read the brochures about surveys at the American Statistical Association, here (also linked near the top of this page).  We'll have a simple quiz on what the brochures say.

  • Feb 24: Turn in 2 of the following Exercises in Healey, Chap. 10 Inequality and race - RR10.3, RR10.4, IP10.1, IP10.2, IP10.3, CA10.1, CA10.2

  • March 3: Quiz - Read the LSU Institutional Review Board (IRB) Policies and Procedures, here.  Almost all university research everywhere in America must pass a review (or get an exemption) to make sure that no one (humans or animals) is harmed by the research.  This is an important ethical issue.  In the first assignment, above, you had to complete the Human Subjects Protection Training at the NIH website (http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php), and obtain a certificate of completion. Today, we'll have a quiz on what the LSU IRB materials say, and we'll have a discussion about what this means for our research.  Here are the documents to look at:
  • March 6: Review for the Mid-term exam.

  • March 8: Mid-term exam

  • March 10: In-class quiz: Marketing Systems Group GENESYS Sampling Systems is a survey sampling firm. The Genesys website used to have a good description of how they do it, but they don't have it anymore. Some years ago, they sent me this description, which you should read. (Also see their basic descriptions of RDD sampling for cell, landline, and/or both, and their GENESYS-IDplus system.)  Be prepared to summarize the basic steps they take in preparing a list of telephone numbers for us to use.  Don't worry about small details; just understand the basic steps. 

  • Late March and April: You will be doing one of two things, depending on what independent project you chose, survey or photo based. See the assignment for the final reports below for more details about what you need to do.
    • Analyze the results of the GSS survey subset we assembled. You will develop a set of interrelated hypotheses, analyze the data, and write a final report. The instructors will help you do this work in class.
    • Prepare a photo essay from photos you take. Again, the instructors will help you do this work in class.
    • You can work in groups to do your analyses, and you can give presentations in groups of your work in the last week. However, the final reports must be written individually.

  • March 17: Turn in 2 of the following Exercises in Healey, Chap. 11 The Family - RR11.3, RR11.5, IP11.1, IP11.2, IP11.3, IP11.4, CA11.1

  • March 17: Proposals for final report
    • See full instructions below
    • If you are doing a survey project: Develop five hypotheses to test using the GSS survey subset we assembled.  State briefly what causal relationship you expect to find in the data and why (e.g., women are more likely than men to support the Democrats because they support more liberal policies, say, in health care and education). These will probably form the core of your report, which will be due April 28.
    • If you are doing a photo-based project: Write a one-page description of the photos you will take, or have taken, and the description you plan to write of the project.

  • March 24: Turn in 2 of the following Exercises in Healey, Chap. 12 Voting - RR12.3, RR12.4, IP12.1, IP12.3, IP12.4, IP12.5, CA12.1, CA12.2

  • March 27: First progress report due for final project. Turn in a 1-page progress report on how your final report is progressing. Also attach a copy of your 1-page proposal, including any modifications you have made. In the new section, tell us about about the analyses you are performing on the data and/or the photos you have made, and tell us about the interpretations of results that are starting to emerge from your analyses. We will meet with each of you in class individually this week to discuss your progress report.

  • April17: Second progress report due for final project. Turn in a 1-page progress report on how your final report is progressing. Also attach a copy of your 1-page proposal, including any modifications you have made. In the new section, tell us about about the analyses you are performing on the data and/or the photos you have made, and tell us about the interpretations of results that are starting to emerge from your analyses. We will meet with each of you in class individually this week to discuss your progress report.

  • April 24: Optional, Extra credit. Class presentations of photo essays. You can do these in groups if you want.

  • April 26: Optional, Extra credit. Class presentations of survey analyses of the GSS survey we assembled. You can do these in groups if you want.

  • April 28: Turn in your final report, based on your analysis of the GSS survey subset we assembled or your photo project. The final report must be individually written, though you may expand on the group work you did for a presentation. Fuller details of the assignment are below.  

Instructions for Final Reports (choose one of the following two formats)

  • Survey-based project.
    • The reports should be about 5-10 pages (10-12 point, 1 inch margins, double spaced) plus supporting output of data analysis (tables, graphs, etc.).  The reports should cover 5 or more connected hypotheses which, together, give a causal picture - or tell a story - of the situation you are investigating.
    • Your basic analysis will probably involve differences among different social groups. You can also consider explaining changes over time and/or differences among different regions of the country. You can also explore differences among rural/urban, ideology or party preference, religiosity, etc. If you think changes over time or between regions are due to demographic change or differences, consider accessing census information to back up your arguments. For instance, what are the effects of de-industrialization, immigration, changes in family/household composition, etc. 
    • You should also discuss what questions your analysis raises that can't be answered with the available data, and you should suggest what new data would be desirable to answer these open questions, and what sort of study design would be appropriate to acquire these new data.  
    • An outline of the sections of a good report is given here.  You can use the reports from the workbook as a guide in developing your report.  The instructors will help you develop the report in class in the weeks leading up to the due date.  Examples of reports from previous years are here.
    • Note: Please turn in a paper and an electronic version of your final report. You should attach the electronic version of your final report in an email to Oliver Garretson. This should include both the text of your paper, and also SPSS tables you are describing. If you need technical help with this, pls make sure to contact us ahead of time.

  • Photo-based project.
    • Your report will build on what you learned from the class photo exercises earlier in the semester. See the instructions above for guidance on how to approach photo-based qualitative sociology.
    • The report should include about 10-20 photos, plus about 5-10 pages of text discussing the photos. (The 5-10 pages of text are based on pure text - 10-12 point, 1 inch margins, double spaced - prior to embedding the photos.)
    • The photo project should explore a unified theme, that is, the photos should be thematically connected, exploring different aspects or dimensions of a theme. As before, you will get more credit for the assignment if the theme is not student life. We want you to explore the social world around you. Likewise, you can include yourself in a photo or two, but it should not be a project of selfies.
    • As before, do not photograph anything that is too private or sensitive or compromising to the subject. No illegal activities, violence, nudity, substance abuse/overuse, or the like. Remember, the photos will not be published, or shown outside the classroom, or shown to the class without your permission.
    • Your text should describe the social situation shown in the photos. This can include the setting or situation in which the photo was made. It can include a discussion of "presentation-of-self" or the interaction of photographer and subject, if the photos are taken with the knowledge of the subject (i.e., not candids).
    • One approach would be to interview the photo subjects and include some of their statements in the reports. A good way to do this is to videotape your interview and transcribe it. Then you could follow some of the methods of textual analysis we have explored in this class. You can, but don't have to, use text analysis software like NVivo or Atlas.ti. However, the whole report text cannot consist only of quotations of the subject: it must include your own analyses and interpretations of the images and settings.
    • Weil's "neighborhood portraits" (e.g. this page) provide an example of combining photos and text. However, Weil used ony quotes from the subjects. Your report can include such quotes, but must also include your own analyses and interpretations of the images and settings.
    • If you want to modify this approach, discuss your ideas with the instructors, and we may approve your approach. You should begin this when you submit your original proposal, above. We may not approve any proposed modifications if they are not well ahead of the due date.
    • Note: Please turn in a paper and an electronic version of your final report. You should attach the electronic version of your final report in an email to Oliver Garretson. If you need technical help with this, pls make sure to contact us ahead of time.

Return to Home Page

All materials on this site which I created, including animations,
are Copyright 1998-2016 by Frederick Weil; all rights reserved.

_