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SYD 4810 Sociology of Women

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SYD 4810 Sociology of Women Powered By Docstoc
					                                SYG 2010 Social Problems
                                        Spring 2011
                                Day of Action Assignments
    Complete all assignments by 1:55 PM on the days they are due.
    Copy/paste all papers to comments of Wordpress blog:
     http://ufsocialproblems.wordpress.com
DOA Assignment #1
Local Problems within UF/Gainesville/North Central Florida
Points: 10 total points
Due Date: Tue, Feb 1

Objective: To choose a social problem that you believe needs immediate attention in the local
community
Group work: no
Length: 1 single-spaced page

The purpose of this assignment is two-fold. First, to help me discover what social issues you, the
student, are interested in. The second reason for this assignment is to start thinking about what issue
you would like to address and what issue you can address for the next 17 weeks.

First, list your top 3 issues that you think should be of most concern to society in general that
require our immediate attention. Explain your reasons for the problems that you list. This will enable
me to gain a grasp of your expectations through the course. Your responses will be discussed at the
next class meeting as we begin our discussion of social problems as you see them. We will then
begin connecting what the class has submitted to the course readings.

Second, narrow your top issues to one that affects our local community. “Local” is defined as UF
students & university community, your neighborhood, Gainesville residents, or North/Central
Florida residents. You may immediately know of a problem here in Gainesville that you would like
to work on. For instance, you may be noticing a lot of homeless people on the streets here, and
would like to try to lessen the problem. Otherwise, if you are new to UF, this assignment may
require a bit of research. Viable news sources to find social problems include the Gainesville Sun,
the City Limits Blog, and the Chalkboard Blog. For community action groups, visit Gainesville
Students for a Democratic Society or Gainesville Civic Media Center. To help you decide whether
an issue is important or not, ask: “Does this issue negatively affect my quality of life? What about my
future life? Does it negatively affect a powerless group’s quality of life?”

DOA Assignment #2
Goals Setting for Day of Action
Points: Up to 10 points
Due Date: Tue, Feb 22

Objective: Defining our goals
Group work: optional
Length: 1 single-spaced page
After we have narrowed our choices down to one or two potential social problems within the
Gainesville/UF community, we must start thinking about the goals of our Day of Action. What will
have to happen for you to consider our day of action a “success”?

It may be helpful to create multiple goals in outline form. If we are still deciding between actions at
this point in the semester, create a goal outline for each Day of Action idea. It could look something
like this:

Primary Goal: To educate the UF community about the existence of Problem X

Sub Goal #1: Work with the Gainesville community
 Enumerate and execute various means of engaging stakeholders (for example, students, faculty,
   administration, neighbors, business) in discussion about large policy issues in the U.S. with
   immediate effects in their own communities
 Listen to experts on Problem X and work with them to alleviate the problem

Sub Goal #2: Research the problem
 Describe the dimensions of Problem X from a study of the literature.
 Identify the causes and factors that exacerbate Problem X in Gainesville

Sub Goal #3: Planning, advocacy, policy development, and problem solving:
 Describe the legal, practical, and political barriers to Day of Action X, and be able to identify
   lawful means to circumnavigate them.
 Navigate the politics of Problem X and the bureaucracy in Gainesville, with acknowledgement
   of the balance between immediate and long-term structural dimensions of the problem.
 Educate, inform, converse with fellow students about Problem X.
       o Education is important because….
       o I would consider education successful if…
 Organize logistics necessary to engaging the university student government and/or media in
   discussions concerning Problem X.

In your write-up, explain your reason for each goal listed. Why is did you choose this goal? Does it
embody the sociological perspective on social problems, or a more individually-focused perspective?
How is this goal connected to your own experience with the problem (if any)? Don’t think in detail
about “how to reach these goals” yet (we will do that in Assignments 3 & 4), just focus BROADLY
on what you would like to see happen in our Day of Action and why.

DOA Assignment #3
Understanding the Problem
Points: Up to 10 points
Due Date: Tue, March 1

Objective: To combat student cynicism in the classroom by brainstorming solutions to a social
problem
Group Work: no
Length: 2-3 single-spaced pages

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Step One: Choose a social problem we may potentially work on for our Day of Action (Note: we should have chosen
one in class by now)
First, read through these steps and to see if you can discuss the social problem at each level of the
assignment. Briefly explain why you or your group members would like to work on solving this
problem: is the problem something you have personally experienced? Why are you passionate about
it? Do you have a moral reason for choosing this?

Step Two: Identify the process through which the social problem is constructed.
Using readings and lectures on the concept of “social construction,” describe how we as a society
have agreed to give the issue “problem” status. Remember that some problems may exist in reality
but are not yet agreed upon as widespread “issues” of concern. These are also called “contested”
problems. If a problem is contested, you will need to give two different answers for Steps 3-6.

Step Three: Identify existence of the social problem.
Here is where you will gather one or two “empirical facts” about the problem. I prefer if you use
peer-reviewed journals (ASK me if you don’t know what that means) for this step to identify the
rates/percentages/patterns in this social problem.

Examples: statistics on growing income inequality, the percentage of women in parliaments around
the globe, racial disparities in household wealth, rates of violence against gays and lesbians, pre-
mature deaths caused by air pollution, and ethnographies of public school disparities

Step Four: Identify root causes of the social problem
This step is essential to the sociological learning process as you come to understand that social
problems are not random, fleeting, or reducible to individual behavior. While I expect you to
describe the causes of your social problems as systemic, you must leave room for individual or
collective actions to ameliorate the problem. If you see that the problem is not reducible to human
nature, then there is space to discuss human resistance to the problem.

Examples: decline of unions, corporatization of education, increased money in elections, corporate
concentration of wealth, tax laws, global mobilization of capital, rise of credit to supplement low
wages, or competitive pressure for low prices

Step Five: Identify structural solutions to the social problem
Take the causes of the social problem from Step Four, and think about how these causes could be
addressed. Brainstorm possible solutions (individually or with your group member). Keeping in
mind the structural causes we talked about [for your social problem], what is a possible solution?
After you generate some ideas, create more concrete ideas about how that solution could be
implemented. Then evaluate the potential effectiveness of the measure (e.g., who would be for it?
who would be against it? would it work? what are the obstacles to implementation?

If during this step you generate utopian solutions such as “we need to love each other more,” I
challenge you to create middle-level solutions to get us there. For example: we need to culturally
reinforce the value of loving parenting, institute a national parental leave program, or create more
racially integrated neighborhood.



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Addressing solutions should also set up an environment to discuss the difference between the core
causes and symptoms of social problems. In other words, [if you chose neighborhood crime as your
SP] To what extent do increased punishments address the core causes of crime? [if you choose
homelessness as your SP] To what extent do homeless shelters or the National Low Income
Housing Coalition address the core causes of homelessness?

Examples: independent unions, alternative economic institutions that create wealth for the poor, dis-
incentivizing greed, removing influence of wealth in politics, independent monitoring of overseas
factories

Step Six: Identify individual actions that contribute to structural solutions
This step links personal action to the structural solutions determined in Step Five. Consider: What
responsibility do you have to help solve social problems? How might you help bring about some of
the structural solutions we have discussed? What would the average person need to be doing on a
daily basis to bring about these structural solutions?

Brainstorm individual daily actions that are sociologically informed--meaning ones that would
actually address the core causes of the social problem. In other words, you should move beyond
“random acts of kindness” or acts of charity that may address specific symptoms of social problems
but are not directly linked to structural solutions.

You can compare the social impacts of giving change to a person on the street, volunteering at a
homeless shelter, advocating for local affordable housing, and opening a checking account at a
community development bank institution).

Examples: investing in community development, writing letters to politicians regarding x policy,
joining an organization, buying "fair trade" goods, supporting a boycott

DOA Assignment #4
Potential Actions for Our Class
Points: Up to 10 points
Due Date: Thurs, March 17

Objective: To think “outside the box” about how social change is possible, and to understand the
merits and limitations of protest as a vehicle for social change.
Group work: optional
Length: 1 single spaced page

In this assignment, we will strategize our actual action, which will take place during class time on
Thursday, April 14. As a class, we will meet in a designated location (usually Turlington Plaza) to
engage people one-on-one about our issue. In this paper, think of creative, yet practical, ideas that
will accomplish our day of action goals (defined in Assignment 2). In other words, think of a tactical
game plan for a 2-hour time frame (or less). For this assignment, it is helpful to respond directly to
your classmates’ ideas if you are able to see what they have posted on Wordpress.




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To fit the criteria of a successful DOA, activities must: 1) be activities everyone in the class can
comfortably perform, 2) require little expense, 3) not block car or foot traffic, 4) strike a balance:
strive for fun activities about a serious topic.

Below are some examples of tactics. These are just suggestions. You can write about your own, or
select one below. Write about why you chose this particular tactic, how it would play out in an ideal
situation, and its potential pitfalls. If you wish, you may talk this over with a group member to help
“ground” your ideas.

Finally, if your chosen tactic requires multiple people working in different areas, create a “Group
Action” list that includes group titles like “Poster Making Group,” “Media Contact Group,” ect.
You can list these at the bottom of your paper, with brief explanations if needed.


                                 DAY OF ACTION TACTICS 101

Remember:
 A day of action is NOT a vehicle for individual self-expression; it is a demonstration of
  collective power, and it requires organization.
 We will NOT be engaging in a tactic called “civil disobedience.” It is designed to appear as a
  political force that has the capacity to disrupt the social order: to stop very large numbers of
  people from working, or from paying their taxes, or from obeying the law.
 Noisy, theatrical protests are NOT always the best. They let angry protestors let off steam, but
  the system keeps moving because the system can shrug off that kind of criticism.

                                 (In Order From Easiest To Difficult)

Honk & Wave: protesters assemble on a busy street corner during the busiest time of day with
loud, bright signs. The goal is to get drivers to participate by honking.

Silent circle protest: protestors assemble in an area at a designated time and sit in a circle in silence.
Usually all wear the same color clothing (black). Usually one student will read a list of demands.

Organizing a list of demands: protesters collectively create a list of demands that can be
reasonably achieved by legislators or people in power. This tactic works best when backed up by
stories by real people who have suffered because of an unjust situation.
ex: King’s march for Jobs & Freedom

Petitioning: Best if used in conjunction with another action. The more effective petitions are
presented to offending parties, complete with short statements/stories from the signers. You may
experiment with online/youtube petitions, although you must deal with spam.

Jeopardy. Gather a public crowd to play “jeopardy” about a social issue, complete with a category-
game board. Ask people quiz questions about your social issue and award small prizes if they get it
correct.

Balloon Lift: Tie helium balloons to flyers with your group’s message; place colorful balloons in

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classrooms and areas around campus.

“Sunday Best” protest: protest in traditional form but while wearing your sharpest clothes. Used to
gain respect and attention of the audience.

Radical cheerleading: The idea is to ironically appropriate the aesthetics of cheerleading by
changing the chants to promote a cause. Cheers are usually written from scratch or by rewriting the
words of popular and historic songs. Radical cheerleaders dress in diverse ways but often wear a
combination of red or pink and black. Some radical cheerleaders make pom-poms using garbage
bags by folding them in half, tying off one side with a rubber band and then cutting strips from the
other end.

Performance art dress up as member of the organization you wish to protest, hand out literature,
and speak in a comedic way in public about your organization. Designed to expose hypocrisy by
parodying the organization (not glorifying it).
ex: Billionaires for Bush

Arguing legal cases: protesters work together to arrange a mock trial (The People vs. AIG) in a
public place. The offending group is convicted and sentenced.
        Risks: if it goes too far, you may be arrested on charges of slander or libel.

Teach-out: in the spirit of all knowledge should be free, you invite experts to give their knowledge
away for free in a public space. Can also coincide with teaching a “free class” in public spaces
around campus.

Dance-in: Similar to a flash mob, protesters assemble in a public place and dance in unison,
preferably with music that will echo in a contained space. Effective dance-ins often come with tags
like “Dance for a better tomorrow” or “Dance away the pain of student loans.” Music choice is key.

Pack the Board Room: Board of Trustees, Student Government, and City Council meetings
usually have time allotted for “comments from the public.” Ask to speak during this time (some will
allow everyone 1 minute of speaking time, others will allow a representative for the group to speak
once). Pack the room with protesters and applaud loudly after your fellow protestors speak.

Mass visit to congressional office: Make an appointment to meet directly with your
representative. Protesters then assemble en masse in congressional office to meet with their
Congressional representative. A lead speaker takes on the task of speaking to the representative on
behalf of the group. Come prepared with researching, asking him/her to support an existing bill up
for a vote, or to propose a bill. Here it helps to “kill them with kindness,” and be polite!

Calling Reps Campaign: Protesters call senate offices every day for an allotted period of time,
urging representative to support an existing bill, to close loopholes in a current bill, or propose a
new bill. (You may occasionally argue with office staffers here if their office disagrees with your
proposals).
Note: You should call YOUR representative in your voting district.

Shantytown: Everyone sleeps outside in cardbox boxes for a night, to gain media exposure for the

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issue of homelessness and to experience a small slice of homeless life.
        Risks: weather; some spaces forbid sleeping outside

Candlelight vigil: Held at night, a small candle is lit for every victim. The vigil is silent, enabling
those participating to reflect on the social problem and be inspired to rise to the challenge. It is best
to designate a master of ceremonies, determine itinerary (speakers, music, candle placement), and
secure a venue.
        Risks: may require a permit if in a garden or public meeting place

Organized boycott: is a form of consumer activism involving the act of voluntarily abstaining from
using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest.
Protesters must research their offending organization, write an “Open Letter” to the head of the
organization, and work toward making sure that the organization loses revenue or ends up with a
tarnished reputation.
        Risks: if it goes too far, you may be arrested on charges of slander or libel.

Civil disobedience/direct action: Nonviolent direct action that seeks to create such a crisis and
foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to
confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue so that it can no longer be ignored.
        Risks: High risk of arrest

Sit-in: protesters seat themselves at some strategic location (inside a restaurant, in a street to block
it, in a government or corporate office, and so on). They remain until they are evicted, usually by
force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met.
          Risks: High chance of arrest

DOA Assignment #5
Day of Action Reflection
Points: Up to 10 points
Due Date: Tue, April 19

Objective: To reflect on our day of action and your opinion of its success
Group work: no
Length: 1 single spaced page

After we complete our activity on Thursday, I’d like you to sit down and think about our day of
action as a process, from inception to conclusion. This process is where our class material is applied.
A good vocabulary word to use here is praxis: the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is
enacted or practiced, embodied and/or realized. Our chosen action happens to be our opportunity
for praxis in lots of ideas: sociological imagination, social construction, meritocracy, stats juking, the
game, ect.

For many of you, this is your first real taste of organized “street” activism. I’d like you to think
about how participating in activism as an “assignment” redefines your relationship to higher
learning. Too often we think of education as something that is done to you. As long as this ideology
persists, and as long as students meekly accept “their place” at the bottom of the hierarchy, the more


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the education institution will reinforce its subliminal political message: “do you work, keep your
heads down.”

These are all ideas that you are welcome to explore further in this final paper. Your responses to
these questions will help me improve this assignment for future campus campaigns. After the DOA
has concluded, answer these 6 questions & complete the evaluation sheet:

YOUR STORY

1. Briefly summarize your motivation(s) for participating (or not participating) in the protest (You
may use a personal story to answer this question).

FACTS

2. What ONE FACT did you come armed with for the protest?

SOLIDARITY

3. Look up the word “solidarity” – do you think this describes how you worked together as a group?
With whom are you in solidarity?

HOW DID YOU FEEL?

4. What were some of your thoughts and feelings as you participated in this activity? In particular, in
which ways did you feel comfortable/uncomfortable?

WAS IT EFFECTIVE?

5. Do you think your action was an effective form of protest? Why or why not? And how would you
do it differently if you had another opportunity to get your message across?

WILL YOU ENGAGE IN ACTIVISM IN THE FUTURE?

6. After this experience, are you more or less likely to continue to fight for solutions to social
problems in this particular way (i.e. organizing with other students to take to the streets)?




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         COPY/PASTE THE FOLLOWING IN A SEPARATE WORD DOCUMENT AND EMAIL
         TO megganj@ufl.edu with the subject line “DOA Self Evaluation.” Do NOT post the evaluation
         on Wordpress.


                                             Social Problems
                                               Spring 2011
                                    Self-evaluation for Day of Action

         When you complete this evaluation you are agreeing to provide an honest evaluation
         of your own contribution. The evaluation will only be seen by the instructor.

         Grade yourself based upon the following criteria:

        Contributed substantial material, time, or ideas to make the event a success
        Assumed an equal amount of responsibility for the activity
        Produced satisfactory work
        Followed through on commitments
        Turned in work on time
        Met at scheduled times
        Was generally cooperative and willing to help
        Enthusiasm for the activity

                                                Grade Yourself:
         Name _____________________________________

         Circle your grade:

0 (F)      1 (D-)      2 (D)      2.5 (C-)        3 (C+)        3.5 (B-)     4 (B+)   4.5 (A-)    5 (A+)
Failed     Barely      Poor       Needed          Average       Acceptable   Good     Excellent   Exceptional
           Passing     Work       Improvement


         Comment:
         __________________________________________________________________
         __________________________________________________________________
         __________________________________________________________________
         __________________________________________________________________
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