urban sociology

urban sociology

Project description
here is what this project about and the description of whats due under it.Midterm Project: Selecting a Social Group and Field Site

Since the Midterm Project will principally be a comprehensive study of an urban subculture, the first step will be choosing a specific social group you wish to observe and then selecting a relevant field site (or sites) that you can visit frequently and conduct fieldwork exercises.

city shoe shine
Choosing an Urban Subculture or Social Group
You are allowed to choose your own urban social group to research and observe, so try to select a subculture (a smaller social or cultural group with distinguishing behaviors, values, interests, and beliefs that exists within a larger culture) that you have intrinsic interest in learning more about.

However, in order to remain truly objective and conduct an authentic sociological investigation it is absolutely vital that you choose a group you are unfamiliar with.

In other words, if you are a skateboarder you should not choose skaters as your topic. Also, please try to focus on particular urban subculture groups and not something unassociated with city life, like “people who hang out at the beach” or “people who work out at the gym.” Likewise, it is important to avoid vague categories like “single people” or “people who ride bikes,” so try to narrow down your topic to more specific social groupings (i.e., “bicycle messengers who hang out on the corner of Market and Montgomery streets”).

Students living in rural areas should concentrate on social groups and subcultures in the downtown area of where they live (or a nearby city if it’s a place you frequent often).

The possibilities for selecting an interesting subculture to study are practically endless; you can observe and interview street performers, shoe shiners, hotel workers, firemen at a precinct, hot dog vendors or art dealers that set up on daily at an outdoor location, homeless people in a specific area; there are many fascinating types of urban social groups to choose from if you put your mind to it.

No matter what you want to focus on, though, the main criterion is that it must be sociologically relevant. In other words, you need to focus largely on the social interaction that occurs within the group and between members of the group and others in society. As sociologists, we need to observe how different groups of people view and interact with their world. Once you have settled on a unique subculture that you are largely unfamiliar with, you have completed your first important step.

Check with the instructor for clearance if you have questions.

city shoe shine
GROUPS NOT ALLOWED: Other students, subcultures that you belong to (for example, do not choose graffiti artists if you are a tagger) and groups that do not form a specific subculture or are too vague (like “married people,” or “commuters”).
After selecting a group, you will need to consider a good place or two where those people are frequently to be found and where they can be observed at different times of the week. Your exact field site will depend on your particular geographic location, but the general idea is that you should select a confined area that you will be able to access fairly easily and frequently, like a particular city block, street corner, or some other specific urban location. The field site is also important when examining social conduct among members of your group since behavior and activities are often affected by location and even time of day.

FIELD SITES NOT ALLOWED: Coffee shops, restaurants, parks, buses, or any school-related sites.

You need to step out of your comfort zone and make genuine, objective observations as a student sociologist. Watching people in the coffee shop you hang out in, or on the bus/train you ride home on, is lazy and disingenuous. Besides, people simply commuting to work or relaxing in the park do not form a particular subculture as they have nothing else in common with each other. Make this challenging and fun by venturing into an unfamiliar urban realm.

Check with your instructor for approval if you have a sound proposal idea that depends on an area on the “not allowed” list.

Write a 2 paragraph proposal for your Midterm Project and include the answers to the following questions:

What is the specific social group or subculture that you plan to study? (This group must have some common characteristics and form a type of community with each other.) Be sure to review Page 10 to see which groups you cannot use.

Why did you choose this particular group? Since this will be an objective study, it cannot be a group you are already associated or familiar with.

What particular field site have you chosen to make your observations? How is it relevant to studying this particular group of people? Be sure to check Page 10 to see which locations are not allowed.

What sort of background and historical information do you think you might be able to research in order to learn more about your group?

What will be your methodology? In other words, how do you plan on studying this group and learning about them? What methods will you use to gather data?

What are some preconceived assumptions you may have about this group that can hinder your objectivity? What other challenges might you face trying to learn more about this group?
Writing a proposal for the project forces you to focus on what exactly you will be working on. This is a brainstorming exercise, in a way, and if you do it right, the rest of your paper will be easier to write. Coming up with an interesting group to study and an appropriate field site will mentally prepare you for the next step—getting out into the streets!

you can choose which social group you want. but make sure that its on san francisco. research it.


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