ANALYSIS SOCIAL SETTINGS

 

For this assignment: 1) carefully observe three examples of a specific kind of social setting; 2) combine your observations into a description of a) the social setting and b) what typically occurs within it by focusing on a social role or on interaction patterns; and 3) sociologically discuss or analyze what you found. Some Examples of Specific Kinds of Social Settings • courtrooms • high-end women’s clothing stores • banks • fast food restaurants • budget supermarkets • ‘sports’ bars • hotel lobbies • dollar stores • community libraries • street cars • bingo halls • neighbourhood coffee shops • mall food courts • upscale franchise coffee shops • clubs Note: You must have your topic approved before beginning the project. Projects submitted without the approved proposal (on specified deadline) will NOT be graded. 1. The Field Work i) Select a specific kind of social setting to study (such as those listed above). ii) Visit three examples of that social setting as a participant observer. iii) Carefully observe: a) the common features of the setting, and b) what typically goes on in it in terms of a social role and status OR interaction patterns. a) The Setting: pay detailed attention to what is commonly found in the three examples of the setting and the significance of those similarities b) The Social Position: list the main positions in the setting, but focus on one social position using the Goffman reading and in the course slides on role/status. OR Interaction Patterns: focus on the interaction patterns occurring within that setting as well as the norms, beliefs and values governing these patterns.

Focus your observations on what is typical or recurring in the various examples, including what might first seem to be insignificant details. Do not get distracted by differences or engage in comparisons, although it is okay to note significant variations in your report. Make sure to relate back to course content. 2 Introduction Section (Section 1): (~0.5 page) What are you going to do and why are you doing it? Identify the specific setting you’ll be studying and what you will be focusing on. Method Section (Section 2): (~0.5 page) What exactly did you do in your field study? Outline a) the general approach you took to your study (e.g., participant observation method for gathering data, Goffman’s dramaturgic theory and the symbolic interactionist approach to understanding social life and society), and b) the details of how you did your particular project, including the names of the examples you visited. Briefly discuss any difficulties you encountered in setting up or carrying out the field project. Results Section (Section 3): Organizing and Describing Your Observations Combine your observations of the three different examples into a single general description or typical profile of what you found regarding a) the social setting, and b) the social position you focused on or the interaction patterns you observed. 3A. The Social Setting: (~1 page) There may be many differences among the settings but your interest is in what is common, shared, or recurring. The richer your description of the setting the better because the setting provides a physical and symbolic context for what goes on in it. This means you should discuss the symbolic significance of what you concretely observed here or in a later section. 3B. Social Position: (~2 pages) There may be a few main social positions in the setting you selected. List them. But describe the role expectations and status associated with only ONE social position in detail. Social roles are complex. Use the course content about Goffman to help you organize this section. OR 3B Interaction Patterns: (~2 pages) If your emphasis is on interaction patterns, focus on a set of recurring patterns of action and interaction among participants that you found significant. You will also want to articulate the norms, beliefs and values governing the patterns and being expressed through them. 3 4. Sociological Discussion/Analysis: (~2 pages) The aim is to illuminate or understand the setting and what’s going on in it by inquiring into the different levels of meaning of how the setting is organized and what’s going on in it sociologically. Role performances and interactional patterns fulfill obvious practical goals as well as less obvious cultural purposes or social functions. So, you need to ask probing questions about what is there and being done, and about the way everything has been organized. Most things that are regularly done don’t really have to be done. And almost everything that’s done could be done otherwise. So why are people regularly doing this in these settings in the way they are? Why is the setting organized in the way it is? Discussing means connecting what you found to sociological concepts, research, or theories covered in the course or that you’ve found by researching resources outside the course. Analyzing means drawing on sociological concepts, research and theory to advance a theoretic insight or idea that you have into what’s going on and why and developing that insight or idea in detail by accounting for the v

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