Sociology

‘Being Cultural’ textbook (2nd edition): Key theories, concepts, and study questions

Supervisor

Dr. Bruce Cohen

Discipline

Sociology

Project code: ART028

Edited by the project supervisor, the first edition of ‘Being Cultural’ (Cohen 2012, Pearson) has served as the textbook for the popular sociology course ‘Cultural Studies and Society’ (SOCIOL 105) since 2012. Covering a broad range of theoretical traditions (e.g. conservative theories, Frankfurt School, British Cultural Studies, and feminist theory) and topics (e.g. consumption, celebrity, music, videogames, and social media) the volume has offered an introduction to sociological and popular culture for students new to the area. Following agreement with Palgrave Macmillan, the project supervisor has begun the researching and writing of a second edition of ‘Being Cultural’ this year (with publication expected in 2020). Towards the second edition, this project offers the potential summer scholar an opportunity to research and draft a number of in-text study aids for each of the 15 chapters of the proposed book (namely, short and clear summations of key concepts (e.g. commodity fetishism, cultural text, and semiotics), scholars (e.g. Stuart Hall, Henry Jenkins, and Theodor Adorno), and revision/study questions in ‘boxed’ or highlighted text), so as to facilitate better student learning through use of the textbook.

Scholar’s Work

The second edition of ‘Being Cultural’ will consist of fifteen chapters which -similar to the first edition- covers a range of theoretical traditions (e.g. conservative theories, Frankfurt School, British Cultural Studies, and feminist theory) and topics (e.g. consumption, celebrity, music, videogames, and social media) in the area of sociology and popular culture. The scholar will be initially responsible for drafting a list of proposed key concepts and key scholars to highlight and summate in each chapter (approximately two of each per chapter is expected, making a total list of 30 concepts and 30 scholars for the entire volume). After agreement with the supervisor of this list, the scholar will then research and draft the ‘boxed’ text for each item. Following completion of this task, the summer scholar will then be responsible for drafting a short list of study questions/topics for each chapter (these questions/topics will allow students to further identify and reflect upon the key arguments and issues within each chapter, and will be helpful towards tutorial and assignment work). Depending on the amount of time remaining, the summer scholar will also have the option to collect copyright-free images/photos which can used with the previously drafted ‘boxed’ texts in each chapter (the scholar may wish to take their own photos as part of this task) and/or identify appropriate graphs or tables for each chapter.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

It is essential that the summer scholar has the following knowledge, skills and abilities:

• a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of sociology (typically the scholar will be a high-performing major in sociology);
• excellent background research skills (e.g. is familiar and comfortable with carrying out library research, performing literature reviews, key word searches, and so on);
• the ability to articulate in writing sophisticated concepts and ideas in a coherent and straight-forward manner, so that they might be understood by those new to the area;
• the ability to work independently (e.g. without close supervision, has previously carried out extended essay writing, research projects, or literature review work);

It is desirable that the summer scholar has the following knowledge, skills and abilities:

• an excellent knowledge of and enthusiasm for sociology and popular culture (typically the scholar will have excelled in our ‘Cultural Studies and Society’ (SOCIOL 105) or ‘Sociology and Popular Culture’ (SOCIOL 211) courses);
• an excellent knowledge and understanding of social theory;
• experience of tutoring and/or mentoring stage one undergraduate students.

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

Judging Time in the Family Court

Supervisor

A/P Vivienne Elizabeth

Discipline

Sociology

Project code: ART029

The Care of Children Act was passed in 2004 and came into force on 1 July 2005. For parents who live apart the Care of Children Act (CoCA) is a significant piece of New Zealand legislation because it sets out the principles for determining how time with their children is to be distributed between them. Unlike comparable Australian legislation, which contains a rebuttable presumption in favour of equal shared care, CoCA makes no presumption about the division of time between parents who live apart. Nonetheless, equal shared care has come to occupy a more prominent position in the discursive landscape of post-separation parenting in New Zealand as an ideal arrangement for parents and children. Yet the extent to which equal shared parenting is reflected in family court decisions in New Zealand is poorly understood. This project sets out to address this gap by investigating the prevalence of equal and shared care parenting orders, the parental circumstances in which these orders are made and the justification provided by judges for these orders in a sample of published judgements over the five years from 2014 to 2018.

Scholar’s Work

The aim of this project is to map how the Family Court distributes time between parents who live apart by identifying the frequency with which various parenting orders are made. It also seeks to identify the reasons judges give for this distribution of time, how judges frame parents’ moral identities and emotional demeanours, together with the assumptions judges make about parental availability at different junctures of the week and year.
In order to achieve these aims the Summer Scholar will:
• Retrieve and review view recent literature on the prevalence of and problems with (equal) shared care parenting orders in comparable Anglophone countries;
• Retrieve written Family Court judgements from the LexisNexis database;
• Produce a sample of these judgements according to a clear rationale if necessary;
• Produce an overview analysis of the sample, recording the parenting orders made, age of the children about whom the orders were made and the existence of factors that might have affected the parenting order (e.g., domestic violence, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction etcetera)
• Thematically analyse the judgements, identifying the discourses judges draw on to support and justify their decision-making
• Write a brief report on the basis of their analytical work that succinctly communicates their findings

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The Summer Scholar will:
• Be able to use library search engines to locate relevant academic sources
• Be able to build and work with simple excel spreadsheets
• Have an understanding of qualitative research, especially thematic analysis
• Be able to produce cogent and well-argued pieces of academic writing
• Have a grounding in family sociology, gender studies, social psychology and/or family law

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

Identifying Barriers to “Building Back Better”: A Case Study of Post-earthquakes Christchurch

Supervisor

Steve Matthewman

Discipline

Sociology

Project code: ART030

Building Back Better (BBB) is enshrined in the guiding principles of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (UNISDR, 2015). Indeed, the idea has achieved the status of orthodoxy within post-disaster reconstruction. The stated desires to mitigate disaster risk and improve community wellbeing are both understandable and laudable. Yet all too often we seem to fall short of such aims.

This Summer Scholarship focuses on the rebuilding of post-earthquakes Christchurch as a strategic research site to study to the challenges of Building Back Better. Putting a city back together is always going to be a protracted, difficult and contentious process. The project therefore examines the challenges faced when attempting to improve the lives of locals and their urban environment. What do the citizens of Christchurch think about their city? What would they like it to become? How successful has the rebuild been? In what ways might the rebuild have fallen short of their aspirations? In addition to highlighting criticisms of the rebuild, the project will outline competing visions of what “better” might look like, and seek to find reasons for the perceived slowness of the recovery.

Scholar’s Work

The primary task of the Scholar will be to map the available literature on the Christchurch rebuild. In other words, they will be expected to conduct: 1) an in-depth literature search and, 2) a comprehensive of review that literature. This entails finding relevant work (academic books and articles, technical reports, local and national government policy documents, media pieces, blogs, etc.) and extracting key points, themes, connections and suggestions for future research. The literature review will take the form of a short written report (approximately 3000 words). The basic intention is to apprehend the current state of knowledge on this topic.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The Scholar will need a strong grounding in the social sciences, preferably (but not necessarily) in Sociology. For the purposes of this project “social science” is used in the broadest sense to mean those disciplinary perspectives that are able to shed light on the cultural, social, economic and political aspects of the Christchurch rebuild. More importantly, the applicant should be highly motivated and be able to conduct independent research. The main skill requirements are the ability to source and make sense of relevant literatures. In other words, the applicant should be competent in conducting literature searches, they should be able to reference appropriately, and they should have the ability to summarise and present information in a thorough, clear and succinct manner. Knowledge of literatures in one or more of the following – disasters and disaster reconstruction, urban life and environmental sustainability, Science and Technology Studies, social theory - would also be advantageous.

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

Internalised Racial Oppression among Māori, Pacific and Asian Youth

Supervisor

David Mayeda (Sociology)
Sam Manuela (Psychology)

Discipline

Sociology

Project code: ART031

Internalized oppression occurs when ethnic minorities “question their identity, believe that they are inferior, and exude self-doubt and self hatred” (Trieu & Lee, 2018, p. 68). Although very little research has been conducted with young people in Aotearoa New Zealand on internalized oppression, extensive research has been conducted on the concept in other countries. Some research has found that in higher education settings, ethnic minority students with higher levels of internalized oppression are more likely to devalue education and have less control over their lives (Brown, Rosnick, & Segrist, 2017). Internalized oppression has also been shown as a factor contributing to conflict within ethnic minority communities (David, 2013). This project will entail the early stages of an inter-disciplinary research project on internalized oppression among Māori, Pacific, and Asian youth, data collection beginning in semester 1, 2019. The project will involve mixed methods approaches, starting with qualitative interviews with Māori, Pacific and Asian youth, to inform the development of a quantitative survey to be administered to youth from the same ethnic backgrounds. Although the summer scholar will only be assisting in development of the qualitative phase during the summer, s/he will be invited to continue with the project as it advances.

References

Brown, D. L., Rosnick, C. B., & Segrist, D. J. (2017). Internalized racial oppression and higher education values: the mediational role of academic locus of control among college African American men and women. Journal of Black Psychology, 43(4), 358-380.
David, E. J. R. (2013). Interanlized Oppression: The Psychology of Marginalized Groups. New York: Springer.
Trieu, M. M., & Lee, H. C. (2018). Asian Americans and internalized racial oppression: identified, reproduced, and dismantled. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 4(1), 67-82.

Scholar’s Work

The summer scholar’s work will cut across four areas:
A. Conducting literature reviews on internalized racial oppression, stereotype threat, and a number of related topical areas.
B. Identifying and scrutinizing quantifiable surveys/scales on internalized racial oppression, stereotype threat and related topical areas.
C. Developing qualitative interview guides for focus groups with Māori, Pacific, and Asian youth.
D. Assisting supervisors in completion of ethics application for primary research.
The summer scholar will be invited to stay on the research project after summer work has been completed to engage in ongoing research and co-author manuscripts for peer-review journal publication.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

• Strong academic record in sociology and/or psychology disciplines
• Strong critical reading skills
• Strong research and writing skills (writing literature reviews)
• Strong knowledge of Māori, Pacific and/or Asian cultures
• Familiarity with Kaupapa Māori and/or Pacific research principles
• Interest in development of research instruments (e.g., research-informed interview questions, quantitative surveys)
• Interest in youth issues in Māori, Pacific and/or Asian communities

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.