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Sociology

Click to watch LaFaye Garth '13 discuss her research project.

Participatory Action Research (PAR): Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice through the Oral Histories Project

Jessica Correa ('12); Sergio Marin*; Claudia Ruelas†; Mentor: Gilda Ochoa
*Draper Center, Pomona College, Claremont, CA; †Pomona High School Pomona, CA

Abstract:  Participatory Action Research (PAR) is committed to engaging undergraduates, faculty, and local community partners in building intercommunity ties through the shared goal of improving the lives of members of marginalized communities (Hofman & Rosing, 2007). Through a semester long collaboration in Fall 2010, Pomona College and Pomona High School students worked together to document the experiences of local community members, resulting in the Oral Histories Project (OHP).  This study aims to analyze the experience of those students through in-depth interviews.  The interviews highlighted ways in which to improve the project for future collaborations such as through more community building sessions with all parties involved. The interviews also revealed different emotions that students encountered, such as tensions that arose from power dynamics at play, but also feelings of empowerment after the project was completed.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

"Multi-faceted, Multi-layered!": Personal Narratives of 2nd Generation New Yorkers of Color

Cheickna Fofana ('12); Mentor: Hung Cam Thai

Abstract:  New York City is well-renowned for being the cultural nexus of the world and a vibrant international hub.  This is reflected by its immigrant population, estimated to be 37% in 2010, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. The most recent wave of migration to the city, spanning from the 1980s onwards, has led to an influx of immigrant communities from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. As a result, there has been a gradual yet steady emergence of second-generation youth of color within this urban landscape. Through a series of in-depth interviews and site excursions, my research explores the notion of cultural identity and the complex nature of its development amongst this population. From my respondents’ accounts, I sought to further understand this dynamic through the intersection of their group affiliations.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

The Redeemer Baptist Church and Gender

LaFaye Garth ('13); Mentor: Gilda Ochoa

Abstract:  For some, the Christian Religion takes away from “real life experiences”, what William Edward Burghardt Du Bois,  intellectual leader in the United States as a sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, would call “Amusement”. However, for the Baptist faith, which is headed by males, their amusement lies in their spirituality, nothing of nature. The Baptist Church and Gender is considered for thorough critique. How do churches function as a religious institution? How is gender defined relative to their daily functions? For assessment, The Redeemer Baptist Church is the case study, which includes ethnography and participant-observations. All of the interviewees are African American; most have been attending church since early childhood, and most come from low socio-economic backgrounds. Male and female are separate in sitting arrangement, for most of time during services, as well as in their duties. The Redeemer Baptist Church appears to be a very gendered; therefore, perpetuating gendered differences in its entirety. However, their actions suggest that they accept the roles and traditions completely.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

Worldwide Revolutionary Events Since 1500

Eli Kaplan (’13); Mentor: Colin Beck

Abstract:  The goal of this project was to develop a database of all revolutionary events that have occurred worldwide since 1500.  Events were compiled from articles in the International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest.  For the purposes of this project, a revolutionary event was defined as a contentious situation occurring outside of normal political discourse aimed at producing a transfer of state power.  When events in the encyclopedia were deemed revolutionary, these cases were entered into an online database.  These cases were coded for the event name, location, and years of duration. So far, 210 cases of revolutionary events have been entered into the database. When the database is complete, it will enable further quantitative analysis of revolution, including analysis of the causes and outcomes of revolutionary events.
Funding Provided by:  Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

Who Gets Designated a Terrorist and Why? A Comparative Cross-Sectional Analysis of Government Terrorist Lists

Emily Miner ('12); Mentor: Colin Beck

Abstract:  This study examines the formal designation of terrorism by governments as a case of social construction. The designation of terrorist organizations has emerged as an important counterterrorism policy tool used by several countries. Employing cross-sectional data on militant organizations listed and unlisted by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia, and India, this study investigates the characteristics of groups that influence an official designation of terrorism. Three explanations—national security threat, geo-political strategic interests, and typecasting based on organizational profiling—are considered. Comparative multivariate analyses find that listed organizations do tend to pose a threat to a country’s security and the safety of its citizens, but also that there are effects of organizational profile, most notably groups with an Islamic basis. The results imply an important role for popular images and social construction of threat in policy formation and practice.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund  

Dance Opportunities for Chicago’s Latino Youth: A Case Study

Elena Saenz ('12); Mentor: Gilda Ochoa

Abstract:  Social stratification creates unequal opportunities for different class and race groups.  Most contemporary dance studios are expensive to attend and geared toward middle and upper-class culture.  Chicago, with many ethnically and class segregated neighborhoods, has skewed opportunities for its youth.  A case study was conducted at a non-for-profit dance studio in a Southwest Side neighborhood that has a predominately Mexican population.  Eleven interviews of students, teachers, parents, and the director were conducted.  The interviews were focused on three main topics, accessibility to contemporary dance, comfort-level within the studio, and how dance influences other aspects of identity/life.  Ethnographic observations were also used.  Other Chicago dance studios for children were researched to map out what neighborhoods they serve.  As one of the only non-for-profit studios in Chicago, this dance studio serves a mostly working-class Mexican population.  Some of the factors that contribute to its accessibility in this neighborhood are affordability and the commitment to staying connected to Latino culture.  Thus, the rarity of this dance studio exemplifies the lack of and need for more dance studios and opportunities in working-class Latino neighborhoods.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

The Sociology of Senegalese Hair Braiders in NYC

Dialika Sall ('12); Mentor: Hung Cam Thai

Abstract:  This research focuses on Senegalese women who provide hair-braiding services in United States. Based on an analysis of field observations and six interviews with Senegalese hair-braiders in three salons in New York City, this study shows how respondents view hair braiding as the only profitable skill they have in the labor market. They justify and give meaning to their work by expressing great satisfaction with both their clients and the act of braiding. However, because the work was physically painful and there was little interaction between the respondents and their typically African-American customers, they had no desire to continue hair braiding in the future. The findings suggest that the intersection of these Senegalese hair-braiders’ gender, race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and immigrant status leaves few opportunities for economic and social mobility of which they dream.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

Research at Pomona