Autoethnography of a Social Problem

Autoethnography of a Social Problem


For this project, you will select a social problem that affects you individually and research and analyze this problem as it affects you. The assignment will have three written components that you will complete over the course of the semester: a summary of the problem, an analysis of its causes and how it is publicly addressed, and a final presentation of your research that proposes solutions to the problem and that will be shared with the class (and perhaps with future Social Problems or Sociology classes).

Part 1 – Summarize your social problem (2-3 pages)
The first part of the assignment will be a summary. In this 2-3 page essay, you should tell me:

  • What is the problem? Describe your problem, including the scope of the problem, and any trends related to the problem. You should include statistics on your problem. You will need to use at least two sources for this essay.
  • Explain how the problem affects you. What is the background of the problem? What are the causes? How and why are you affected by this problem?

Part 2 – Analyze your social problem (4-6 pages)
This essay will take part 1, including any revisions that you make, and add another 2-3 pages. For this second part you will research and analyze the causes of the problem, with a focus on how the problem is socially constructed. This essay should address the following questions:

  • What social factors are involved with this problem (for example, inequality, social class, race, gender, politics, power)? How does your social identity make you susceptible to this problem?
  • What (if anything) do sociologists say about this problem (you will need to use at least one peer reviewed sociological article or book)?
  • What does the media say about the problem (you will need to use at least two newspaper articles or other popular media accounts)?

Part 3 – Be part of the solution!

The final part of this semester-long project is to propose or suggest a solution(s) to the problem. Using the research that you have conducted on your problem (summary and analysis) you will create a presentation that can be shared with the class – and potentially beyond – that helps to draw attention to your social problem and pose solutions to it.

You may choose the format for this final component. Some options include op-ed article, video, public service announcement, podcast, photo essay, comic book, zine, or infographic; these are just suggestions and there are other options as well so be creative! You are also welcome to work in pairs or groups. Details will follow.

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