Select an important or changing event/occurrence that happened within the last 80 or so years. (Examples include (but are not limited to) participation in important labor movement events (sit down strikes of the 1930s, general strikes, union organizing, union busting, union negotiations), World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Student movement of the 1960s, Anti-Apartheid Movement of the 1980’s), the rise of the Silicon Valley, 9/11, immigrating to the U.S., growing up in the U.S. with undocumented status. Identify a sociological issue about that event or occurrence. (For example, the role of women inside and/or outside labor unions, the positive or negative experiences of women in the enlisted forces, the types and levels of hierarchies within student-led organizations during the 1960s, the organizational structure of Silicon Valley firms, the importance of immigration laws and practices in people’s lives). In selecting your topic, be mindful that you will need access to five people who will agree to an interview with you about your topic.
Conduct research to investigate the background and history of the topic you chose (consult twenty sources, cite at least seven in your paper). Develop hypotheses regarding your topic (e.g. the higher the proportion of enlisted women working in work places, the more likely they were to have overall positive experiences).
Identify five people to interview (try selecting relatives or acquaintances in order to simplify your selection process). Interviewees are to remain anonymous (give them pseudonyms in your paper).
Prepare your oral history interview schedule (a set of core questions that you will ask each respondent). Make sure to include basic background questions as well as questions that allow you to address the issue(s) you have posed for your research. This requires deciding how to measure (operationally define) each of your variables (proportion of women in unit (independent variable, for example, you could ask them to estimate the proportion of women in the work place in which they spent the most time) and positive vs. negative experiences (dependent variable, for example, you could ask them to explain their positive and negative experiences in that work place and then code their responses on the positive/negative dimension later or you might ask them to rate their overall experiences in that one work place on a scale of 1 to 10)).
Interview each subject for between ½ and 1 hour. Ask each interviewee the set of core questions, and ask each person questions targeting their particular experiences. Take hand-written notes, and record the interview (make sure not to mention the person’s name on the recording). After completing all interviews, listen to them and transcribe the passages that directly speak to your main areas of concern.
Code your variables for each interviewee and create a simple crosstab. What basic patterns do you find between your independent and dependent variables? What stories/statements did the interviewees make that help you arrive at conclusions? Select excerpts from your interviews to include in your paper to demonstrate your interviewees’ experiences. Assess whether or not what you found corresponds to your hypothesis. How do you think what you found matters in the larger context of the issue you are examining?
Using your best writing skills, write a solo-authored 15-page (typed, double-spaced) paper as described in the paper assignment below.
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