political science researcher carefully exams H u m a n i t i e s
RESEARCH PROJECT (worth 10% of final course grade)
Each student must write a research essay of between 1600 and 2000 words length. This essay will be due on October 7th. It will be submitted to your instructor via Moodle. Unlike essays in other courses, this assignment can NOT be fulfilled by just looking up the writings of other people, summarizing them, and integrating them. Instead, you conduct your own original research and present your findings in your essay.
One of the simplest forms of social science research is the case study method. This is how you will conduct your research. In a case study, a political science researcher carefully exams a very small number of people or events in detail, trying to understand why they behave the way they do – and then considers what that might tell us about how other people behave or why other events happen.
For your case study, you will pick two or three people who you believe have influenced your views about how society and politics works – perhaps a parent, a teacher, a coach, or a religious leader. You will interview each of these people, asking as many questions as necessary to understand three things: (1) How does this person describe his or her political views (such as Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative, Globalist or Nationalist, Socialist or Capitalist)? (2) What sources does this person pay attention to, to learn about politics (such as what television or radio programs, what websites or social media feeds, what entertainers or athletes)? (3) How do these choices of information influence what the person believes or disbelieves about politics? Do not just ask one question and accept a simple answer. Dig down to find out what the person really thinks and why. Then, after conducting these interviews, analyze how the beliefs of these people (and the sources they rely on for information) may have influenced what you believe. Really ask yourself how much of what you think you know comes from these people who have influenced you – and how much of what they believe comes from the sources of information that they pay attention to. Finally, discuss whether you think what you learned is applicable to other people. Is your situation typical? What does that say about how political beliefs are formed in our society?
A well-constructed essay will actually answer the questions posed above and will do so in a logically order fashion, with clear organization. Of course, you are welcome and even encouraged to make use of outside sources (using proper citation methods) to buttress your claims. But the bulk of what you write should be based on what you learn from your interviews and the generalizable conclusions you draw from them about how political beliefs are formed.
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