The purpose of the Journal Project is to allow you to creatively apply a sociological perspective to observations and experiences regarding deviance in your everyday life. Deviance is an issue that affects our lives in many different ways. We are daily confronted with both fictional and non-fictional accounts of deviant behavior in various media. Sizeable proportions of our local, state and national budgets are devoted to managing certain types of deviant behavior. Tragically, some of us have been personally harmed by criminal deviance or know a friend, family member or acquaintance who has been victimized. Others have experienced the stigma of being labeled “a deviant” because of our appearance, beliefs, personal lifestyle choices, or for some other reason. Chances are you enrolled in this course not to “fulfill a requirement,” but perhaps in part because deviant behavior and the process of reacting to deviance are very real issues in our everyday lives and because you wanted to develop a more thorough understanding of the nature, causes and consequences of various types of deviant behavior.
This writing opportunity is meant as a vehicle for you to merge some of the observations and reflections you make regarding deviance in your private life and the theories, explanations and general information you will learn about deviance in this course. The goal is to help you recognize the value of a sociological perspective on deviance, especially in terms of being better able to critically evaluate the way in which deviant behavior is understood, defined, reacted to and portrayed in everyday life.
1. Please be sure that the product you hand in includes 3 separate journal entries related to 3 separate observations. Please begin each individual entry on a new page. Each entry should be approximately 2-3 pages (double-spaced) in length.
2. You are to record 3 observations or reflections on social behavior related to deviance. These observations could be…
o made in the course of your interaction/conversations with other people;
o based on your reactions to a newspaper article you read or a news story you heard (please limit news media to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, PBS or National Public Radio unless otherwise discussed with me);
o made in response to a documentary you viewed;
o result from a lecture you attended in your community or on campus;
o your response to a photograph, cartoon, or video you saw;
o related to an experience you had, either of being reacted to or treated as a deviant, or of yourself reacting to someone/something else as deviant;
o based on experiences you have while volunteering/mentoring/working in the community;
o made in response to a scholarly book or article you read in another course.
3. For each journal entry, briefly describe your “observation” or data item. If the item is a newspaper article, documentary, book, or something similar, please include the link to the item for my reference. Your journal can include more than one of the same type of item, but not all three of your entries should be the same (i.e., 2 newspaper articles is ok, but not 3). Then discuss how your observation relates to what you have learned in this course. For your discussion,
o you may use any material from lecture, course modules or your assigned readings.
o you may discuss observations that either support or contradict material learned in the course.
o you may apply a theory or a particular theoretical concept or hypothesis we covered regarding the “causes” of deviant behavior or reactions to deviance.
o you may discuss how a particular observation illustrates the relativity involved in defining deviance and/or the ambiguities involved in applying labels of deviance.
o you may discuss how an observation “fits with,” or doesn’t, a pattern regarding the incidence and/or social correlates of a particular type of deviance you learn about.
o you might discuss why you think someone (including yourself) did or did not react to a situation as if it constituted an instance of deviance.
Obviously you cannot address all of these possibilities in 2-3 pages; these are simply suggestions for starting points in your discussion. You are free to write about anything, as long as your discussion integrates course material, is analytical (i.e., not simply a summary of your item, a statement of your opinion, or why you think a certain behavior should or should not be considered deviant, etc.), and is sociological in nature.
4. The assignment is worth 60 points towards your final grade (20 points for each of the observations/essays). Check the course syllabus for due dates. You will be graded on creativity, sociological insight, critical analysis, thoroughness, and your ability to apply
material from the course to your journal observations. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any part of the assignment.
5. Rubric for each entry/item in your journal:
o Your item/observation is appropriate according to the project instructions.
o Discussion of the item is analytical and thoroughly integrates course material including theories, readings, concepts and/or other material from this course.
o Your journal is submitted on time; is properly organized and attentive to grammar, spelling, etc.; and is creative and sociologically insightful.
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