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Agents of Socialization Visual Sociology Group Project

This assignment explores socialization and agents of socialization through the use of visual sociology. Visual sociology is an area of sociology concerned with the visual dimensions of social life. For this assignment, students will deepen their understanding of sociological theory imploring visual sociology. Students will take 10 photographs of bumper stickers or tattoos. When a person sees a bumper sticker or a tattoo they associate the message or image with the car owner or person. When a person gets a tattoo or bumper sticker they consciously realize this association will occur. Therefore, bumper stickers and tattoos may depict things that are meaningful enough to an individual that they do not mind being associated with these images or ideas wherever they go. To this end, bumper stickers and tattoos can be predictors regarding the agents of socialization exerted and the subsequent influence. Students will work in groups to both collect and analyze photographs and present findings and observations in a 10–15 in class presentation.

Campus Tattoos Project

In the United States, there is a growing acceptance and embrace of tattoos, especially among younger generations. Tattoos hold powerful messages of identity and belonging ripe for sociological exploration. The Campus Tattoos Project (CTP) is an innovative, semester-long assignment that uses tattoos to teach sociological concepts and methods. Students engage in research and reflection in four reports. The first report is a deductive analysis using original survey data to answer the research question: Who has a tattoo at the university? The second and third reports are inductive, content analysis studies using photos of tattoos taken by students for the project. Report 2 focuses on stratification. Students analyze photos to answer the research question: How do tattoos differ by race, ethnicity, or gender (students choose one) at the university? Social institutions are the topic of Report 3. Students again analyze photos taken of campus tattoos throughout the semester to assess: What social institutions are most commonly depicted in students’ tattoos on campus? The final report requires students to design and describe their own tattoo, with particular attention to the interrelationships of status, group, and social institution. The Campus Tattoos Project provides an intriguing and meaningful way for students to learn sociology by doing sociology. We used the project in a very large introductory course, but it is readily adaptable to a wide range of sociological courses regardless of size.

Norm Violation Video Presentation

Conducting a norm violation has been a traditional assignment in Introduction to Sociology courses for many years. This assignment puts a different spin on the project by having students complete the assignment in small groups (3–4 students) and by asking them to create a 6–8-min video presentation of their project. It also asks students to collect their own data (of the social patterns in the responses) and reinforces the steps in the research process. There are many advantages to using video presentations, including that they allow students to be more organized, not run over in time, and to integrate video footage from their norm violations, which makes them very interesting. They also encourage students to learn and/or practice a new technical skill. For instructors they offer flexibility, as they can choose to show only some (or none) of the presentations during class time. Lastly, this type of project prevents students from engaging in plagiarism (or simply making up their work!) because the student is actually documenting their participation in the project as they do it.