Project #15231 - University Sociology Research Paper

Research Paper


Weight: 30%

Due: November 20


·       STYLE: This is a research paper and it should be written in a formal and academic tone.  No colloquial words or phrases.  No contractions.  Please edit and revise the punctuation, spelling and grammar carefully.  The best guides for the appropriate writing style are formal and academic research papers, such as Soraya Mehdizadeh’s “Self-Presentation 2.0: Narcissism and Self Esteem.”  You can use first person pronouns (e.g. “I”).  However, you should support your assertions with evidence and not merely your opinion or beliefs, which is why third-person pronouns tend to be recommended


·       IMPORTANT: More specifically, this research paper is an “ethnography” of a particular subculture which means it will be primarily descriptive.  You are neither expected nor required to generate an original hypothesis or hypotheses nor express and defend an overarching thesis.  Excellent papers will be separated from average papers by extensive research and detailed descriptions of the chosen subculture.  Excellent research papers will also be distinguished by the way they address the two specific questions which have been the focus of the course, namely the relationship of the selected subculture to mainstream culture (or the culture of capitalism) and the way in which members of the chosen subculture use it to build their sense of identity (or “self-identity); more details on this below.


·       LENGTH: The research paper should be a minimum of 8 pages and a maximum of 10.  The pages will average between 275 and 300 words and, therefore, the paper should be a minimum of 2,400 words and a maximum of 3000 words.


Sources and Referencing (20%):

·       All research papers must have a minimum of 8-10 references (i.e. approx. one per page)

·       Research papers must have a minimum of 8-10 independently researched references 

·       Lecture notes, PowerPoint Slides, the Naiman and Haenfler textbooks and the assigned readings (e.g. Jim McGuigan and Anthony Giddens) can be used and must be cited but DO NOT COUNT TOWARDS THE MINIMUM OF 8 REFERENCES.  In other words, please do not rely exclusively or largely on material provided to you in class

·       Half of the references (i.e. 4-5) must be scholarly or academic in quality.  The best guides to scholarly and academic resources are the Carleton University library catalogue and (portal link is provided in the Research Paper folder on cuLearn). 

·       For the purposes of this research paper, the source counts as “academic” if it can be found through either of these two search portals

·       Half of the references may be “alternative” or “non-academic” in quality.  These references should still be highly relevant to your chosen topic.   As discussed in lecture, potential non-academic sources include interviews, observations, and participant observation, television shows, movies, internet websites, blogs, magazines, commercials, advertisements, music and music videos, comic books, novels, etc.


·       Hint: In many cases, the “alternative sources” will be used to describe the subculture, while the academic sources will be used to describe concepts, theories, and evidence relevant to subcultures, identity and capitalism – this practice is fine and even recommended for most topics


·       The referencing, citations, and bibliography must be constructed in a manner consistent with the ASA (American Sociological Association) Style Guide provided by Queen’s University which is available in the “Research Paper” folder on cuLearn


·       Lectures can be cited using the standard format.  For example, in the text of the research paper: (Gibney, September 25, 2013) and in the bibliography: Gibney, Charles (2013) “Socialization: The Social Construction of Childhood,” Sociology 1001D.  Ottawa: Carleton University, September 25.  However, students should not rely heavily on lecture material for their research papers

·       The textbook, assigned or recommended readings must be cited in a manner consistent with the ASA Style Guide if and when they are used for the research paper


·       Field work, participant observation, interviews: Students can conduct their own observations and interviews for this assignment. This research must be cited in the paper and referenced in the bibliography.  It count as an alternative or non-academic source.  Students will be operating under the ethical clearance of the course instructor, which carries with it certain obligations.  Absolutely no harm (e.g. physical, emotional, invasion of privacy, embarrassment) may be done to the subject of the observation or the person interviewed.  The subject of the observation and the interviewee must grant you, the researcher, "informed consent". You must make clear the purposes of your research and the outline of your research paper assignment. The anonymity of the research subject and interviewee must be protected at all time.  No real names or personally identifiable information can be used in the paper.  The research derived from participant observation and interviews can only be used in the research paper for this course and cannot be published in any other form.  If you have further questions about the ethics of conducting field work please do not hesitate to ask


·       Observation Notes and Interviews Transcripts must be provided and stapled to the back of the research paper hard copy if they are used to write the research paper

·       Rules concerning the citation and referencing of field work can be found in the ASA Style Guide.  For example: Last, First Name of Student.  Year.  Interviewee.  Course.  City, Month, Day


·       Tips and Hints:This is a research paper and the stronger the research the better the paper, so when in doubt provide references for the ideas, arguments, theories, facts and evidence being used in the text of the paper

·       In-text references should be as specific as possible, providing the exact page number from where the material was taken whenever possible.  For example (Naiman 2012: 165)

·       It is not enough to merely reference quotations.  You must also provide references for ideas, arguments and evidence which you have taken from sources but put in your own words – whenever there is any doubt reference and provide sources

·       Do not use numerous and lengthy quotations – paraphrase and put ideas, arguments and evidence in your own words.  It is only appropriate to quote when it could not possibly have been said any better – these instances will be very rare

·        Do not plagiarize published or unpublished work under any circumstances.  All instances of plagiarism will be sent directly to the Dean Office of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for a disciplinary hearing.  You can help to avoid plagiarism by providing references whenever possible


Organization & Structure (20%):

·       Each paper must be organized into six sections

(i.e. Introduction, Method, Subculture, Culture of Capitalism, Identity and Conclusion).

·       The start of each section must be indicated by a subtitle (e.g. “Method”) which must be designated by bold font, italics, or underlining

·       The paragraphs in each section must be clearly organized.  Each paragraph should begin with a introductory sentence, end with a concluding sentence, and the sentences within the paragraph should be related to one another as well as providing explanation, arguments, facts, evidence which are in support of the overarching point or purpose of the paragraph


·       Introduction: the introduction should serve to introduce the reader to the chosen topic as well as answers to the key questions offered by the paper (e.g. defining features/characteristics of the subculture, relationship to mainstream culture, and how the subculture is used by its participants to build a sense of identity).  It should provide the key sources, evidence, and a brief summary of the method.  Essentially the introduction should read like an “executive summary” of the entire paper.  If the audience reads nothing else, they would still get the main points by reading the introduction. The introduction should also explain the organization of the paper. The best guides to an appropriate introductory section are abstracts for academic journal articles, like the Canadian Journal of Sociology. This paper does not require a separate abstract but the introduction cover the same ground as an abstract.  The introduction should be 275-300 words, double spaced, or approximately one full page


·       Conclusion: The conclusion should be approximately half the length of the introduction.  It should do two things: one, summarize the key points and arguments made in the research paper and, two, propose new ways to study the topic in the future, point to directions for future research, briefly mention what was missing from the research paper because of limited space and time, or suggest how you would approach the topic next time given the opportunity


·       Method: The methods section should be brief and nontechnical.  The purpose of the methods section is to explain to the reader how the research was conducted. How and where was the most important information found. If interviews, observations, or participatory observation was used, they should be described here.  What we are looking for here is largely what kinds of sources are used and for what sections of the paper these sources will be used.  Also relevant: where was the information found, what were the reasons for the choices made, what problems were encountered (if any) and what strategies were used to overcome these problems (if necessary).  The methods sections will be short, one-half page or 150 words double-spaced should be more than sufficient if students did not use their own observations or interviews, slightly longer if observations or interviews are used


Subculture (20%):

·       There is no formula for the subculture section except that it should be rich with detail and demonstrate thorough research and an advanced understanding of the chosen subculture

·       The subculture section is your opportunity to demonstrate your extensive research on your chosen subculture.  Assume the audience has no familiarity with the selected topic and explain all of the fundamental aspects of the subculture which are relevant and might be of interest (keep in mind the context is an introductory sociology class)

·       Students may choose to take a “materialist” approach to organizing their descriptions: symbolism, social organization or forms of cooperation, and material production (when relevant)

·       If the subculture is organized around certain objects, lifestyles, consumer goods, practices, beliefs, a community or neighbourhood, professional sports franchise, etc., this is the section in which the relationship between it and the subculture should be explained

·       At the very least, students must explain how their chosen subculture is organized around certain practices, values, ideals, norms, or even – in some cases – a distinct way of life

·       The “subculture” section should be between at least 2 pages in length


Topic Selection:

·       I have already commented on many students topics, but this is a brief review of ideas discussed earlier in the course:

·       Subcultures can be organized around certain activities (e.g. video games, music group, singer or genre, celebrity, TV series, movie franchise, sport, or recreation)

·       Subcultures can also be organized around certain values or ideals (e.g. Animal rights organization or a cult).

·       Subcultures might also be organized around particular material artefacts (e.g. fashion trend, style, books, consumer product)

·       Subcultures might be territorially based (e.g. neighbourhoods or “ghettos”, prison inmates, university residences, public housing developments or gated communities)

·       Subcultures can also be focused around what is best described as a lifestyle which combine elements listed above (e.g. sexuality, goth, punk, hipster, guidos/guidettes, racial and ethnically based subcultures) 

·       Subcultures can also be organized around criminal activity (e.g. computer hacking, illicit drug users and drug dealers, gangs) 

Culture of Capitalism (15%):

·       Each research paper should spend at least 1.5 - 2 pages exploring the relationship or connections between their selected subculture and the culture of capitalism

·       In this section you will explain how your chosen subculture is (1) distinguishable or can be differentiated from mainstream (capitalist) culture; and (2) the extent to which your chosen subculture is connected to the mainstream culture (e.g. commercialized, consumption or consumerism, mainstream values, concessions to the mainstream, as participants age they leave the subculture) 

·       The boundary between subculture and the mainstream is not static. There is room for argument/debate.  And the precise relationship between the subculture and the mainstream (or culture of capitalism) will be explained in greater detail here in this section

·       The basic idea is to make the paper relevant to the course (i.e. write a sociology paper and not a psychology, political science or history paper) without exclusively relying on material I have given you in class

·       There is a lot of room for creative expression and original thought here


Places to start:

·       Links between your subculture and consumption is the most obvious place to begin

·       The most straightforward approach to this portion of the research paper is to use the concept of “cool,” the “conquest of cool” or the “perpetual motion machine” to explain how subcultures are linked to capitalism through consumption or consumerism.  For example, marginalized subcultures produce notions of cool, these ideas about cool are studied and then exploited by advertisers and used to increase consumption, youth subcultures reinterpret mainstream consumer culture and create more novel ideas about cool, cycle repeats…

·       Countercultures or social movements (e.g. Occupy Wall Street) obviously stand opposed to the mainstream culture of capitalism, but students might also want to explain links (e.g. commercialization of environmental movement with “buying green”)

·       Several kinds of relationships between criminal subcultures and the mainstream have been discussed in a recent lecture

·       We have discussed the culture of capitalism in relation to Marvin Harris’s work on “materialism” and we looked at the material production (capitalist versus traditional), forms of social organization (e.g. classes, inequality, bureaucracy, corporations) and symbolism (advertising, branding, lifestyles)

·       We have discussed the values, ideals, and norms of capitalism in relation to Max Weber’s work on the Protestant Ethic and the way it evolves into the pursuit of wealth for sport in North America

Identity (15%):

·       Again each research paper should spend at least 1.5 to 2 pages exploring how their chosen subculture influences and shapes its members sense of their own identity (e.g. the way they understand and feel about themselves as well as the way in which they see and understand the world around them)

·       The best place to begin is with a description of how the people in the subculture define or describe themselves and how these descriptions or definitions are unique

·       For the purposes of this paper, “identity” is synonymous with “self-concept,” “the self,” “self-identity” and so on

·       There is a lot of room for creative expression and original though here as well

·       We have discussed how identity in formed through the process of socialization, education, acculturation, as well as current trends which are shaping the concept of childhood and, by extension, young people’s identities

·       We discussed the way Mead defines identity as basically synonymous with personality

·       Goffman’s work on the presentation of self is also very relevant

·       We have looked at the way identity is wrapped up in consumption and “lifestyles”

·       We have discussed the way advertisers attempt to link their products to desirable lifestyles

·       In the second half of the semester we will look in detail at Anthony Giddens’ theory of “self-identity” in the contemporary period

·       We will also look in some detail at gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity in the second half, if you are looking at studying a subculture related to any of these areas you will want to attend class on these dates 

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Due By (Pacific Time) 11/20/2013 12:00 am
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