Go out into the community and observe an area you are interested in.
For this assignment you will go out into the community and try to find the differences between troubles and issues. This is an observation project, and it will require you to make observations of a social setting, gather field notes, and then summarize those field notes and make connections to what you have learned.
Choose a social problem: In true observational studies, you would go out into the field and see what happens without having any real direction to your observations and without having something you are hoping to find. For this study, time is of the essence, so it would help to think of the kinds of problems that you may find in the setting before you get there. Some examples might be looking at the problem of childhood obesity at a fast food restaurant or grocery store, looking at consumerism at a mall, looking at healthcare problems at an emergency room waiting room, etc.
Choose a social setting: You will need to choose a social setting that will provide a wide variety of behaviors within a fairly short period of time. This setting will also need to be one where a wide variety of people gather so that you can collect good quality observations that can lead you to making some general statements regarding the troubles and issues sides of social problems.
Some great places to observe are local malls, busy city streets, large stores such as grocery stores or Walmart, or fast food restaurants.
Entering the social setting: You will need to think about how you are going to present yourself in the social setting. You can be a participant-observer: participating fully in the setting and not making any obvious attempt to gather information, or more of an outside observer: setting yourself outside of the action in a purely observational mode.
The most effective way to gather data is as a participant-observer. You will want to dress and act the part of someone who belongs to the setting, without drawing any undue attention to yourself. If you are going to observe at a Walmart, you would enter the store, take a cart, and occasionally put things in the cart and look like a shopper as you observe the setting. If you were going to observe at a fast- food restaurant, you would order food and then sit and consume the food in an area that will allow you to observe the comings and goings of others.
Gathering field notes: The main activity for the project will be the gathering of field notes. This can be done in many ways, so pick which is best for you and for your setting. The best way is to take notes while the action is going on and you are still in the setting. Some ways to do this would be to use a cell phone to collect the notes and either email yourself or text a friend your observations and then write them later into a document. You can also jot down notes in a small notebook as you go. You can also wait until you leave the setting and then write your notes down quickly before you forget, but this way is less dependable.
Drawing conclusions: Once you have been in the setting for a few minutes, some activities may catch your eye that will support or undermine your previous ideas of what you may find in the setting. Just keep observing what you find and then use the observations to complete the following sections:
Introduction and statement of social problem under discussion
Personal trouble (describe which observations show this problem to be a personal trouble)
Possible solutions at this level (equivalent to the “ambulance on the side of the road” type of solution)
Social issue (describe which observations show this problem to be more of a social issue)
Possible solutions at this level (equivalent to the “fixing the road” type of solutions)
The post Unit 2 Project Social Problems
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