Sociological Analysis

a blog


Feb 1 – Overview of course and course requirements.

Neuman, Preface, pp. ix-xv.

Distribute course overview/syllabus, and survey on library resources.

Feb 3 – Intro to basic social science research assumptions.

Neuman, Ch. 1, “Why Do Research?,” pp. 1-21.

Distribute Assignment # 1 (selecting your research topic for the term).

Feb 8 – Reviewing the literature, focusing the research question, and planning your research project.

Neuman, Ch. 2, “Planning a Study,” pp. 24-46.

Feb 10 – Research: variables, hypotheses, levels of analysis, quantitative vs. qualitative research, causal explanations. Criteria for good research design.

Neuman, Ch. 2, sections on the Research Proposal, pp. 46-56; Appendix C, “Racially Biased Policing: Determinants of Citizen Perceptions” (Weitzer and Tuch), pp. 367-370.

Assignment # 2 (annotated bibliography & lit review) posted on ASSIGNMENTS page.

Feb 15 – COMPUTER LAB WORKSHOP: Library and internet resources for research.

Class meets at the regularly scheduled time in Rosenthal 225 (enter through 2nd fl.)

Assignment # 1 due – post on course blog.

Feb 17 – Criteria for good research design (cont’d). How to read and evaluate a research article. Conceptualization and measurement.

Neuman, Ch. 2, sections on the Research Proposal, pp. 46-56; Appendix C, “Racially Biased Policing: Determinants of Citizen Perceptions” (Weitzer and Tuch), pp. 367-370.

Neuman, Ch. 5, “Measuring Social Life,” pp. 112 – 121.

Feb 22 – Conceptualization and measurement (cont’d).

Neuman, Ch. 5, “Measuring Social Life,” pp. 122 – 139.

Audio (in-class): “The Wealth Gap,” (interview, Mariko Chang, Insight) Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, NPR, 3/24/2010.

In-class conceptualization exercise.

Feb 24 – How do we determine who is sane and who is insane?  This classic article raises some serious questions about the adequacy of our diagnostic procedures. Or does it?

Read David Rosenhan, “Being Sane in Insane Places”

Audio (in-class) “Right to Remain  Silent,” This American Life, WBEZ/NPR, 10/20/2010  (segment begins around 17:00 minutes in and lasts almost 40 minutes). This radio documentary tells the story of “whistle-blower,” Adrian Schoolcraft, an NYPD officer who secretly recorded his supervisors telling officers to manipulate crime statistics and make illegal arrests.  The piece demonstrates how social measurements — of crime, and once again, of sanity/insanity — may be influenced by a range of values and interests, and introduces the concept of whistle-blowing (Ch. 3 in Neuman).

March 1 – COMPUTER LAB WORKSHOP: Library and internet resources for research (cont’d).

Class meets at the regularly scheduled time in Rosenthal 225.

March 3 – Sampling.

Neuman, Ch. 4, “Sampling: How to Select a Few to Represent the Many,” pp. 86-105 (through “Sampling Hidden Populations”).

Video (in-class): “Predictive Policing: The Evolution of Law Enforcement?,” (interview w/William Bratton, Chairman, Altegrity Risk International, former Commisioner, NYPD and Chief, LAPD on CompStat), Wired Business Conference 2010 (3:29)

APA Formatting and Style Guide (The Owl at Purdue)

March 8 – Sampling (cont’d).

Handouts on sampling.

Video (in-class): “Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats,” BBC Four, 11/26/2010. [in-class]

Submit Assignment #2 (annotated bibliography & Lit review) via SafeAssign on Blackboard.

March 10 – Studying hard-to-reach populations.

Read Tydlum and Brunovskis, “Describing the Unobserved: Methodological Challenges in Empirical Research on Human Trafficking” (pp. 17 – 27, up until “Secondary Sources)

March 15 – Midterm exam

March 17 – The role of Institutional Review Boards; ethics of clinical trials, and how they affect research.

Neuman, Chapter 3, “Becoming an Ethical Researcher,” pp. 60-85.

Video (in-class): City Talk (interview w/ Eli B. Silverman, Professor Emeritus from John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY and co-author, with John Eterno of Molloy College, of a survey of retired police officials who were asked about the effectiveness of CompStat) CUNY TV, 7/26/2011. (25 min)

March 22 Introduction to experimental social science studies.

Neuman, Chapter 7, “The Experiment,” pp. 178-186 and pp. 194-201.

Audio (in-class): “Study: Ex-Cons Face Race Barriers in Job Search,” Tell Me More, NPR, 8/7/2007 (Interview with Princeton sociologist, Devah Praeger, who conducted the “field experiment” and reentry advocate, Glenn Martin of the HIRE Network)

Assignment # 3 (research proposal) posted.

March 24 – Experimental social science studies (cont’d).

March 29 – Discussion of classic social psychological lab experiment. Evaluation in terms of ethical standards.

Read Stanley Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience” (4 pp.).

March 31 – Surveys.

Neuman, Chapter 6, “The Survey: Asking People Questions,” pp. 142-177.

April 5 – Surveys (cont’d).

Browse the Pew Research Center website for examples of recent surveys.

See “For Millennials, Parenthood Trumps Marriage,” and “Who Tweets?” and “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” (Pew Research Center)

April 7 – Introduction to historical/comparative research.

Neuman, Chapter 11, “Looking at the Past and Across Cultures,” pp. 294-321.

April 12 – Historical/comparative research (cont’d).

Read “Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy,” Ehrenreich, B. and Hochschild, A.R., in Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically About Global Issues, Rothenberg, P., Ed., 2009.

Audio (in-class): “Living Without Work: The Long-term Unemployed,” NPR, 12/5/2010 (11 min)

April 14 – Discussion of historical/comparative analysis, including Durkheim’s analysis of suicide.

Read “An Introduction to Suicide: A Study in Sociology” (Edles & Appelrouth, 2010, pp. 119-122)

Audio (in-class): BBC interview w/Steven Lukes on contemporary relevance of Durkheim’s study of suicide (interview starts at about 1:00, through 10:45).


April 28 – Content analysis and using existing statistical sources.  Research and citation review.

Neuman, Chapter 8, “Research with Nonreactive Measures,” pp. 208-233.

May 3 – Introduction to ethnographic methods.

Neuman, Chapter 10 “Observing People in Natural Settings,” pp. 263-288.

May 5 – Ethnography: Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

Read Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day, pp. 1-66.

Submit Assignment # 3 (research proposal) through SafeAssign on Blackboard.

May 10 – Ethnography: Gang Leader for a Day

Read Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day, pp. 67-183.

Video (in-class): “The Wire – Avon Wants His Corners” (Watch 0:00-4:05 and refer to Venkatesh’s description of alternate conceptualizations of the gang: the BK “family” and the BK “business.”  Avon, in the video, has the first perspective, Stringer, whom Avon mocks as a “businessman,” the latter.  Also consider how violence and control (of territory) figures in Avon’s vision of the gang, whereas Stringer insists that wealth and the prospect of more wealth allows, even requires, the gang move beyond the “run and gun.”

Video (in-class): “The Wire – Avon and Stringer” (Watch 0:00-1:22) Avon claims he “bleeds red” while Stringer “bleeds green,” like “a man without a country.”  What sort of conceptual distinction is he trying to make? Is it valid?

May 12 – Ethnography: Gang Leader for a Day

Read Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day, pp.  185-283.

May 17 – Course summary and review.

TBA (May 19-27) Final exam (PH 118)

Study: Ex-Cons Face Race Barriers in Job Search

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