Sociology writing paper

Total need 7 full pages, word count at least 2300.

For this paper, you will conduct a cultural analysis of an organization of your choosing. You should pick something that will hold your interest and that will facilitate qualitative data collection of some sort (interviews, observations, document analysis). Therefore choosing an organization with which you have direct experience may be useful. The University of Oregon or any of its related organizations is always a good idea.

The organization I choose is : University Of Oregon Health Center

The website is here:

If you can somehow incorporate class concepts into your honors or masters thesis, a research proposal, or some other project that will help advance you in your program, I am open to the idea of tailoring the guidelines of that paper to facilitate you progress on other projects. Please stop by my office hours to discuss your ideas with me.

Your paper should contain the following sections. I recommend that you use these same headings (i.e., “Introduction,” “Methodology,” etc.) in organizing your paper.Be sure to staple your paper (including reference page), and staple your fieldnotes as well, and then paper clip your fieldnotes to your paper.Be sure your name is on both your paper as well as your fieldnotes or interview summaries.


In this opening paragraph or two, your goals are two-fold: introduce your organization and clearly state the analysis’ main objective (thesis statement). Keep in mind, you might not be able to clearly state your research objectives until after you have conducted your research. For example, you might start out to try to pinpoint and understand basic cultural elements, and then find out that the organization has recently undergone specific changes related to its functioning. Focusing your analysis on this change would be wholly appropriate and make for a great paper. Thus, your thesis statement might be something like, “This study is offered as a tool for understanding the recent changes that Organization X has undergone, and its impact on daily activities within the organization.” Your introduction should also include reference to either the specific cultural elements that your study employs, or the themes that you discovered through your analysis.

This section should end with a roadmap of the rest of your paper. What should the reader expect?

Organizational Overview

This section should provide a fairly detailed description of your organization. Included in this might be its historical development (Who founded it? When? Where? How?) and its general purpose or mission. Provide all relevant details (but keep in mind that you don’t need an overly-detailed historical analysis if it doesn’t bear much significance to your overall project). Here, you should quote from formal mission statements if these are available.

In this section, you should also include a discussion of the institutional structure. If it is an academic department, how many people does it employ? If it is your athletic team, how many players are on the team (and how is it situated within the larger league context)? What is the organization’s hierarchy, and who is in charge? Is the power structure transparent, or is it more ambiguous? Do you have information on organizational membership, such as the percentages of men and women in the organization? The description should not be limited to these questions, but this is the kind of information that is relevant to discuss in this section.


In this section, discuss how you approached the effort to collect data on your organization. Did you do participant observation? Interviews? Content analysis? A combination of one or more? Provide all of the details relevant to the analysis. If you did interviews, how many did you do? With who? How did you get into contact with that person? If you did observation, what was the role you chose as a researcher? How many hours of observation did you do? Provide as much detail as is relevant.

You are not describing your findings here, but you are providing the context for how you approached the data collection effort.

Identification and Description of Cultural Themes

In this section, you will identify and describe at least three elements of culture that are important to your organization. Remember, elements of culture include (but are not limited to):

Values(An overarching, master element)
Symbolic Elements (Symbols, Stories)
Role Elements (Heroes, Outlaws)
Interactive Elements (Rituals, informal rules)
Context Elements (History & Place)
Once you identify elements, the next step is to infer cultural themes by uncovering images or concepts that are supported by these elements. Refer to the reading “Synthesizing and Interpreting Cultural Data” to guide you in this process. Remember, cultural themes are related to an organization’s “pervasiveness and salience” of some important aspect of the culture.

An example of a cultural theme might be the notion that for your organization, “the customer is always right.” This might be reflected in mission statements (symbols), in rituals, or be reflected in a story about an organizational hero. You might also uncover contradictory cultural themes held by different members of your organization. A thematic comparison would make for a compelling analysis. Your job is to provide a full description of the (to use the above example) ritual, story, or symbol drawing upon the data you collect.


In this section, you will restate the primary goals of the analysis, the methods you employed to move you toward your goals, and a general statement of your findings. It is ok to be repetitive. Further, you should discuss the strengths and limits of your analysis. One good way to do this is to identify ways that you (or another researcher) might approach a more nuanced, in-depth analysis of the organization in the future. Here, speculate as to what might be gained by a larger-scale or more sustained methodological analysis. How is your analysis limited by your research design (where you only had to interview a small number of people, or observe for several hours as opposed to many)? Do you get the sense that your findings are representative of the organization as a whole? Why or why not?

Reference Page: Use ASA citation guidelines. A handout detailing ASA guidelines will be posted on Canvas.


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