Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sociology of Parties: A Writing Exercise

Parties offer an opportunity to apply the sociological perspective. Consider these sociological questions about parties you've been to recently:

1. Was the party racially and ethnically diverse? Or, were most people from the same racial and ethnic categories?

2. Did interaction primarily take place along gender lines? In other words, did men and women tend to separate into groups to talk? Or was there a lot of interaction between men and women? How would you describe the interaction between men and women?

3. What was the party environment like? What kind of behavior did the environment invite? Think about it: a keg party with loud music invites a certain kind of behavior, whereas an upscale party with fancy appetizers, mellow music, and people wearing formal attire invites different behavior.

4. How often were people using their cell phones at the party? Was there a ton of texting and phone calls happening, or were people more focused on face-to-face interaction?

5. What were people talking about at the party? School? Work? Relationships? Complaints? Money? Things?

6. What strategies did people use to get and maintain attention at parties? Did they dress a certain way to gain attention? Speak loudly? Interrupt? What else did they do to become the center of attention?

These are just some questions to consider. You don't have to answer all the questions, nor or these the only questions you can discuss. No doubt there are other observations to make at parties that involve social behavior. The key is to reflect on sociological aspects of parties you've attended in your life.

In terms of format, you can write about the sociology of parties in traditional essay form. In other words, you can respond in a straightforward way. Or, if you like creative writing or want to try it, you can write about the sociology of parties by writing a story. In other words, compose a story about a party (or parties) that contains sociological themes and ideas. The story can be fiction or non-fiction.

A note to instructors: keep in mind that students might write about drinking escapades. The first time I gave this assignment, I was surprised by how much they wrote about drinking. So consider including some parameters with regard to storytelling about drinking. 

One more note: when I give this assignment, the required word count is 1000. 


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