Doing The Research
One of the best ways to “see” sociology at work is to participate in it firsthand. For this paper, you will act as a sociologist and observe social life through content analysis of the media. As you conduct this observation, you will analyze how the media presents social life.
Choose one type of media from the following list for your research. You may select from:
at least 15
at least 6 episodes (1 hour) or 12 episodes of 30 minutes
TV news report
at least 6 episodes (1 hour) or 12 episodes of 30
at least 30
Decide on a research subject. Choose a subject that both interests you and you can easily analyze in the type of media you have chosen. For your research subject, you may want to explore any one of these topics: power of the media, racial/ethnic relations, sexual orientation, crime, violence, stereotypes, American values, gender roles, social class, etc.
Use coding sheet to help record observations for each episode, video, show, commercial, or news report. The template is the last page of this document. You will need to make more than one copy per episode, video, show, commercial, or news report. You will turn in this coding sheet along with your paper. Please note you may change the coding sheet to make it more applicable to your research subject.
As you fill out the coding sheets, write down everything you notice.
Analyze your coding sheets. What patterns do you see? What stood out? What do the patterns mean?
The following format is to be followed as you write up this assignment. Please note that this is intended to help you decide what information to include in your research. Be sure to cover all of these points. Your paper should be done in essay format and use these sections as your headings. In about 4-5 pages, address the following sections:
Introduce your research question and why you chose it.
What makes this topic sociologically important?
Introduce the titles of the sources you analyzed and why? What criteria did you use to select your media choice?
How did you collect the data? What specifically did you look at? What were the categories on your coding sheet that you focused on?
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?
Is content analysis an adequate research method to understand the impact of the media on society? Explain your position.
Findings = description of patterns found; Analysis = what do the patterns mean?
What did your content analysis reveal—meaning what themes or patterns were revealed in your coding sheet while viewing the media?
Explain the significance of the patterns you observed in the media?
Explain how the patterns are related to the type of show you chose?
Use some specific examples from your data to support the patterns you have noticed.
Connect to sociology. How might your findings relate to a sociological theory discussed in class? Can you connect some of the concepts discussed in class/the readings to your research?
So what? What do these patterns tell you about our society? What local or global consequences do they have?
This should summarize the major points of your paper. What conclusions can you draw from your research?
What further questions about your research subject needs to be explored? (If someone else was to do a similar study, what should they look at?)