Aspects of Popular Culture

Magazines, movies, video games, billboards – these are just some aspects of popular culture that replicate and influence social “norms” of being and behavior. Choose one component of popular culture and become a sociologist seeking insights about social norms. This is not merely an opinion paper – each of your conclusions must be supported with textual evidence from your topic of analysis. In a four-page essay, address the ways in which the subject of your analysis demonstrates the existence of social standards and ideas, as well as the way it reinforces and/or alters those standards and ideas. Your declarative statement regarding the social ideology affected by your topic of analysis will serve as your thesis and will be the thread that ties your areas of analysis together. Social Ideology: A norm that is created and maintained by society. For example, commonly accepted and expected ways of dressing or communicating in a particular part of the world. Generate and organize your ideas on a specific subject through advanced topic selection and exploration. Effectively locate the relationship between visuals/words and the concepts/ideas they represent. Locate and evaluate the construction of social information and the impact it may have on society. Explore and clarify your thinking on an abstract concept through the writing process. Use a tentative thesis and rough outline to guide you in your writing, allowing both to evolve as you write. Support your ideas and statements through effective elaboration, explanation, and example. Possible Areas of Analysis: Race (stereotypes, representations of certain minorities) Ethnicity (language, traditions, cultural practices, stereotypes) Class (economic, education, lifestyles) Power (who has it, how it is obtained, hierarchies) Gender (spectrum, power/control, objectification, traditional roles/stereotypes) Sexuality (heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, androgyny, sex as a commodity) Religion and Spirituality (ritual, organized practice, underlying ideology) Age ( young, middle, old) Disability (physical, mental, developmental) Region (accents, dialect, North/South stereotypes) Nationality (ethnocentricity, patriotism, “melting pot” issues) Ideas for the Thinking and Writing Processes: Once you have settled on a subject for analysis, brainstorm for ideas and take notes while watching, looking at, or listening to your topic. Think about how each of the categories above is represented by your subject and what that representation demonstrates about the social ideology you are exploring. Also, what “messages” does your subject put forth regarding these categories that reinforce and/or attempt to alter the social ideology? Once you have taken notes on the above categories, begin to group your ideas together. You do not have to address every one of these categories in your paper; instead, use the ideas in your notes to find 3-4 main ideas on which to focus. There may be many ideas you come up with initially that will not be included in the final paper you generate – this is normal. Brainstorm first – then manage information through organization, elimination, and elaboration.

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