Paper outline, Sociology 117 -- California Youth in Transition                                               Winter 2006


Requirements        Length:  12-15 pages

                                        Style:  can vary, but use consistent style (i.e., APA or sociology journal)

References:  4+ references, including at least 3 from scholarly books or journals (not class texts), as opposed to popular sources (newspaper, magazine, TV, etc.).

Due                               Monday, 2/13 in class:  topic (title, 1-2-page introduction, one reference)

                                                            Meet with me re paper proposal (week of 2/13)

                                        Monday, 3/13:  final version of paper due, beginning of class


Topic choice: The paper should concern youth sociology. To narrow this broad topic, consider first:  what have you wondered about youth, what strikes you as interesting (good or bad), what area of knowledge about youth have you wanted to study further? Because popular and academic statements about youth frequently are inaccurate, this paper requires original statistical data, or original ethnographic observation/survey/interview research, or a combination of the two:


Statistical study or research critique:  using ORIGINAL statistics on youth populations, crime, education, birth, HIV, death, etc., critique claims made about an important youth issue. Are statements in the press (including “experts” cited), a journal study or studies, or the position of an advocacy group accurate, contextual, and fair? Provide these statements in the author’s own words. Your analysis has to use your own original research; refutations relying on statements of another advocacy group are not acceptable. What do you theorize is really going on? Warning: ability to understand the limitations and use of statistics for this kind of paper is important. If you follow lecture, overhead, and text statistical analyses reasonably well (some sources of statistics are at the end of Chapter 1, in the reader), this approach may work for your paper.


Ethnographic:  Cite at least one research study, a popular belief or claim (provide source), or your own examination of statistics to provide a background of what you might expect to find on a particular youth issue. Then, using ORIGINAL on-site observation, surveys and/or interviews (i.e., at a middle school, juvenile court, homeless centers, AIDS centers, Pacific Avenue, etc.), present and analyze claims made about an important youth issue. In their own words and from your observations of their behaviors and environments, how do young people act and react to their worlds, institutions such as schools or programs, and positions in society? Warning: good ethnographic study is not easy! Refer to Appendix A for examples of techniques.


The structure of the paper should be roughly as follows:


Title page — title, your name, class, and date.

Introduction (1/2 to 1 page)— describe topic/dispute and why it is important to study.

Literature review (4-5 pages) — state what authors or commentators (ideally, you should cite scholarly sources, though some topics will require both popular and scholarly sources) and their reasons for taking their position. Do scholarly and popular sources differ? This section should be stated as objectively as possible.

Study (4-5 pages) -- describe your demographic or ethnographic approach. How did you collect your original information? What are the sources of information? How did you organize, categorize, and analyze your information?

Discussion and conclusion (4 pages) — weigh the evidence and draw your own “big picture” conclusion, ideally stated as a theory. A good  theory is developed from a broad range of relevant facts, fits all the known facts, and maximizes use of information. Be bold! This is a dynamic time to study youth and challenge conventional wisdom.

References page — list sources using consistent citation style.


Grading (approximate):  Introduction (5 points), style/organization, grammar (5 points);  literature review and study approach (15 points), discussion and conclusions (20 points), insights (unusual, original, perceptive findings based on solid analysis, extra). The paper is roughly half of final grade/evaluation.