Types of sociological methods

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Assignment Option #1: Observational Analysis

After watching the video, imagine you are a socialscientist.You will examine gender roles in contemporary U.S. society.

**Keep in mind that this assignment isnotan attempt to extract your personal opinion on particular aspects of society. You are using scientific sociological methods to describe specific situations. In other words, if you have an opinion, you may only include it if you also provide support for opinions through yourempirical observations. **


Observe a situation or scenario in which you can comment on the dynamics of gender roles in society (examples: examining a retailer display for childrens toys, bedroom decor, clothes, or greeting cards. Or, examining two different adult clothing sections, or a hardware store for gendered differences in items (i.e., pink tools vs black tools).

Create field notes while making your observations, example: how many people were in the room, how long you observed the situation, which gendered aspects stood out to you, did any interactions seem relevant to gender constructions (i.e., a girl child playing with soldiers or a boy child asking to buy something from the Barbie section).

Then, complete the following steps.


Step 1. Describe your method and observations.

Discuss the types of sociological methods you used in your observation, and quantify your results, for example: if you used a qualitative method that required researcher observation. Keep in mind that observations can be made indirectly – not involving the live observation of human interaction (like viewing items in a store).

Discuss how gender roles are reinforced or contested in the situation you observed?


Step 2. Compare your observations to one theory we have discussed in class.

Apply the theory to your observations.

Describe your observation through the lens of your chosen theory.

Draw one or more conclusions from your analysis.

Answer whether there are limitations to the theorys application to your observation. What does the theory miss or not explain well?


Step 3: List the limitations of your method.

For example, do you think it is possible that different scenarios would provide alternate findings?



Citation rules:


This is an update about the citation requirement for your mandatory essay. Because this is a formal essay,you cannot use a website (or anything of that nature) as the source that informs your analysis for theory.The only acceptable sources for this paper are from our textbook or from scholarly articles from our school database. If you do not use an official source it will greatly impact your grade.


You must use these ASA guidelines when referencing, quoting, or paraphrasing work from other sources. If an idea, concept, or phrase does not originate from your own individual mind, then you must provide an in-text citation and a reference page.


Failure to properly cite your sources will result in an automatic zero on the assignment and will be reported to the dean of students.




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List of Info & starter definitions to help you write this paper:




Participant Observation

Aims to uncover the meanings people give their own social actions

Involves observing peoples behavior in practice, rather than asking them about their behaviors after the fact

Researchers must gain access to a space or community (a public place is easiest)

Researcher watches social dynamics unfold

Read more in Conley text, ch 2 Methods, Research 101


Content Analysis

Systematic analysis of the content in written or recorded material

Read more in Conley text, ch 2 Methods, Research 101




According toSex Role Theory, men and women perform their sex roles as breadwinners and wives/mothers because the nuclear family is the ideal arrangement in modern societies for fulfilling the function of reproducing workers. This theory says:

Families should consist of one work-oriented father in the public sphere, and a domestic-oriented mother in the (Conley 2021).

The best way to raise children is to prepare them to model the parents to one day meet the labor demands of a capitalist system. This can mean that:

Boys be socialized to act like their fathers can prepare them to be the breadwinners in their future families.

Girls socialized to act like their mothers can prepare to be the homemakers in their future families.

This breadwinner/homemaker model is the best way to ensure the human species doesnt die out and that families can afford to make money while raising children in a capitalist economy

Read more about sex role theory in the Conley text.


Socialization Theory says that

There is a process through which individuals internalize the values, beliefs, and norms of a society and learn to function as its members (Conley 2021)

From the moment people are born, they experience interactions between themselves and the rest of the world

Those interactions between the individual and the rest of the world shape who an individual is.

There are different agents of socialization in societythe family, school, friends, the media, etc.

Limitations of Socialization Theory:

discussed in The Conley Text, Ch. Title Socialization and the Construction of Reality, Subsection: Limits of Socialization

List a few on paper before writing about the limitations of this theory to explain things you found in your research.

Read more about socialization theory in the Conley text


Symbolic Interactionism Theory says that

People interact with others using words and behaviors that have symbolic meanings

Human beings act toward ideas, concepts and values on the basis of the meaning that those things have for them

These meanings are the products of social interaction in human society

These meanings are modified and filtered through an interpretive process that each individual uses in dealing with outward signs

Eye contact means something during social interaction

Body gestures (like waving, or showing middle fingers) mean something during social interaction

Read more about symbolic interactionism in the Conley Text

a micro-level theory

based on the idea that people act in accordance with shared meanings, orientations, and assumptions.

Says we interact with others using words and behaviors that have symbolic meanings



Dramaturgical Theory says that

Life is like a big play

All people in society are actors with roles, scripts, costumes, and sets

Life has different front stage and back stage arenas

Read more about dramaturgical theory in the Conley text

Erving Goffmans dramaturgical theory views social life as a theatrical performance

Says we are all actors on a metaphysical stage.






Front stages & back stage



Functionalist Theory says that

A social phenomena exists because it serves a function in society

All of societys various parts, or organ, are defined by their functions and arranged according to the needs of the social organism

Read more about this theory in the Conley Text


Marxs theory of historical materialism

Conflicts between classes drive social change throughout history

Read more about historical materialism or conflict theory in the Conley text

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