The General Dominant Culture Norms Held By the Majority of U.S. Society Today
Graduate Student Course Paper Assignment InstructionsOverviewIn order to fully understand what behaviors are considered deviant by society in the United States today, and why some deviant behaviors are despised or feared more than other deviant behaviors, one must first understand the norms of U.S. society (i.e., what is normal and not deviant). For this assignment, you will be required to research and summarize the general dominant cultural norms held by the majority (greater than 50%) of U.S. society today.Imagine that an alien from outer space arrived on Earth to study the cultures here. You have been tasked to describe the cultural norms of Americans. While this would be a huge undertaking, for this paper only limit your description to four (4) social norms held by the majority of Americans. In your paper, be sure to identify each behavioral or attitudinal norm and present survey evidence to prove that the majority of Americans support this societal norm. There are literally hundreds of social norms from which to choose. Some can be controversial, such as attitudes toward immigration, guns, the police, or abortion. Others are more innocuous, such as attitudes about personal success, education, or work ethic. You should have no problem selecting only four to discuss.Please note that this is NOT an opinion paper. You should not include your opinions in this assignment. This assignment must rely on documented research to support your statements. This is not a philosophical assignment, it is a research paper. You need to cite and discuss recent (post-2000) survey research that proves a majority of Americans (more than 50%) believe or support each norm.You might not agree with the cultural values your research reveals, as this is not an assignment about your personal cultural norms. Being a diverse society, it is likely that you – as an individual – might not agree with many of the dominant cultural norms your research reveals. Likewise, note that this is also not a paper about the cultural norms you wish Americans held. You may want to change American values or norms, and that can often be an admirable goal, but that is not your assignment here. You are not to describe what could be, or should be, or what once was. Only describe what currently is. Help this alien being from outer space understand some characteristics of American culture.As you describe four American norms, do not forget about the differences between injunctive norms (the way we like to portray ourselves) and descriptive norms (the way we really act). Remember implicit norms (those not written down of formally taught) and explicit norms (like laws, rules, regulations, etc.). Make sure that you explain to your alien from outer space the differences between these types of norms (and cite your sources), and explain into which categories the four norms you selected fall. 1
SourcesAs the source material for this assignment, I recommend that you review the assigned readings from Lessons 4, 5, & 6. These reading assignments can give you a great start, but I expect you to use more sources that simply these articles and chapters. I expect you to look up the recent polling / survey data from Gallup Organization and the Pew Research Institute. These are two unbiased sources of survey research on American public opinions. Below are the links to their websites:https://news.gallup.com/topic/category_social_issues.aspxhttps://www.pewsocialtrends.orgTo find trustworthy empirical research articles that you can use as sources, I recommend conducting searches within Google Scholar, found here: https://scholar.google.com/PLEASE, DO NOT, under any circumstances, use ANY polls from news sources. Almost all news sources today tend to be extremely biased toward a conservative or liberal political orientation, and selectively report findings in an attempt to both overly-sensationalize rare events and influence public opinion to their particular orientations. For example, polls conducted by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and FOX News generally involve online surveys of their own viewers, not a random cross-section of America. Remember how inaccurate they were in predicting the 2016 presidential election? This was because they relied on biased samples, or the biased wording of questions. Avoid these survey results as if they were COVID-19!While not perfect, social scientists do a much better job of seeking and reporting the truth. I expect you to support what you write with solid social scientific survey evidence from published research journal articles, Gallup, and Pew.PurposesThis assignment has three primary purposes. First, it is designed to give you practice examining a topic in a scientific and unbiased manner. This is what an education in the social sciences is really all about. Second, it will strengthen your critical thinking, policy analysis skills by requiring you to quantify the characteristics of the dominant American culture. After doing so, you will find it much easier to identify social or political movement strategies that are likely to affect social change by appealing to shared norms and values, and those strategies that are doomed to failure because they insult or disrespect the norms and values held by the dominant society (i.e., the majority of voters). Third, this assignment will strengthen your skills in research and formal writing.ComponentsYour paper must include the following components:Cover Page: On this cover page, please include the title of your proposal, the title and CRJ number for this course, your full name, your student email address, and the date. Please center this information on the page. 2
Introduction: Starting on the second page of the document, spend about three to four paragraphs explaining the paper’s purpose and goal. Explain what are you trying to accomplish in this paper and why is it useful.Main Body: Discuss each of the four social norms you have selected. First, describe the norm attitude or behavior. Second, explain whether this norm is an injunctive norm or descriptive norm. Explain whether it is an implicit norm or an explicit norm. Make sure you cite sources for these labels of types of norms. Third, provide survey research evidence to prove that a majority of Americans believe or follow this norm (citing the sources for this information). Then repeat this process again for your other three norms.Conclusion: Summarize with a single paragraph explaining why understanding norms are important for surviving successfully within a society.References: After the text of this assignment there will be a reference section where you list all of the documents that you cited in your proposal. This is not a bibliography. Only include the documents you cited in your paper. If you cited a source, it must be listed within this reference section. No documents should appear in the reference section that you did not cite somewhere within your paper. This reference section, and the citations within the text of your proposal, must comply with the formatting style of the American Psychological Association (APA). Instructions for APA style referencing are found here: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/ge neral_format.htmlFormattingThis assignment must conform to the following format requirements:Length: The text of this paper (not including the cover page or reference section) should be at least 2,500 words in length, but no more than 3,000 words in length.Headings: You need to use section headings and, where appropriate subsection headings. These should follow APA style of format. First level headings are centered, in bold, with the first letter of primary words capitalized. Subheadings are left justified, in bold, with the first letter of the first word capitalized.Pagination: Please insert page numbers in the upper right corner of all pages.Spacing: Double-spacing is required. When starting a new paragraph, do not leave a space. Simply indent to start a new paragraph.Justification: Please use left justification or full justification.Margins: 1-inch margins on all sides are requiredFont: 12-point Times New Roman Font is requiredParagraphs: Please do not skip a line between paragraphs. Just start a new paragraph on the next line and indent the first line of each paragraph.Quotations: Under absolutely no circumstances may you quote anything in this proposal. Please use your own words and paraphrase the words of others. You can paraphrase as long as you cite your sources, but do not quote anyone. Quotations are rare in academic research and students often 3
abuse the use of quotes to cut down on how much they have to write of their own words. Therefore, quotations will not be allowed.Spelling, Grammar, & Punctuation: It should not be a surprise that errors of spelling, grammar, or punctuation are unacceptable at the graduate level of education. Be sure to use your grammar check function on your computer AND proofread your work. PLEASE, have someone else – spouse, fiend, sibling, parent – proof read your work for you as well.References: You must cite sources following the rules in the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide. Here are APA examples:When specifically including the author within the text of the sentence, simply follow the author’s name with the publication year in parentheses. For example, “A recent study by Smith (2018) revealed…” or “A recent study by Smith and Jones (2018) found…” or “A recent study by Smith and associates (2018) found…”When simply citing the source behind the ideas or information you are conveying, you simply write the author’s last name, comma, and year – all in parentheses. For two authors, use the “&” symbol. For three or more authors, the first time you cite the document, list all author last names, and then use first author and “et al.” for every subsequent use after the first use of this citation. For example, “Arrests occur more often after dark (Smith, 2018)” or “Arrests occur more often after dark (Smith & Jones, 2018)” or “Arrests occur more often after dark (Smith, Jones, and Thomas, 2018)” for the first time and “(Smith et al., 2018)” every time after that. Page numbers are only used when referencing a direct quote. Since direct quotes are not permitted in this assignment, you should not include the page number when referencing.In the reference section at the end of the paper, list (in alphabetical order by author name) all the documents you cited in your paper. Look at the way I wrote your readings in your syllabus, and look online for APA style examples of how to format these references.Organization: The ideas of your paper must be well organized. Every paragraph should serve a coherent purpose and should usually have a topic sentence.Avoided Slang and Informal Language: We all use slang often when talking. However, when I write I do it properly with proper grammar. Please do the same.Plagiarism: Do not copy anyone else’s words or text, whether it is from a fellow student, one of your readings, or something you found elsewhere. You are free to paraphrase others’ works into your own words, as long as you properly cite your sources.GradingThis assignment is worth 100 points. Your grade on this assignment will be determined based on the following criterion:Right assignment (up to 20 points) – Did the paper cover all of the material it was supposed to cover? Was what was said in the paper true and accurate?Well organized (up to 20 points) – Was the paper easy to read due to being well organized? Could I logically follow what you were trying to say, or was it just a jumbled mess of ideas? Formatting (up to 20 points) – Did the paper conform to the formatting instructions provided above? Did it include the sections it should have included?Spelling and grammar (up to 20 points) – If more than one spelling, grammar, and / or punctuation error is evident per page, then all 20 points will be deducted.Referencing (up to 20 points) – Did the paper make proper use of APA style citations? 4
PLEASE NOTE: Regardless of the other grading criteria above, if cases of plagiarism are detected, no points will be awarded for the paper. So be careful.CommunicateI expect you to communicate with me as you work through this assignment. By the time you have completed Lesson 6, I expect you to have begun work on this assignment. Email me and tell me your plans so that I can ensure you are on the right track and are not falling behind. Let me know the other sources of information you have found and are planning to use. By the end of Lesson 8, you should already be writing your paper.As you have questions and concerns, please communicate via email. If needed, we can also arrange a phone call to discuss your questions in greater detail. You should not feel lost or all alone when working on this assignment. You should be in contact with me along the way to ensure that you are on the right track. This can be a big undertaking and I am here to help guide you through this process. I wish you the best of luck on writing a great paper.5
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