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SOC 1: Intro to Sociology (Theme: Race, Class, Gender)

Where Do I Start?


You have submitted a draft topic and thesis statement to your professor for your autobiographical essay. You have chosne a core theme, issue, or institution from your life and you'll be examining it using a sociological lens (e.g. educational experiences or attainment, taken-for-granted culture, work experiences, growing up in rural versus urban setting, etc) and discussing it in a particular period of your life (e.g. childhood, adolesence, or young adulthood), ensuring that you incorporate discussions of social class, race/ethnicity, and gender. 

To get you ready for researching broader societal contexts, Exercise 1 focuses you on articulating the ideas you'll investigate and identifying search terms and their synonyms. 

To help you identify ideas and keywords for your topic, encyclopedic sources (which can include books) are great sources to begin mapping aspects of your issue. There is a list below for you to use. 

Find an Issue

Having trouble getting started? Here are a couple of excellent brainstorming tools for finding a topic.

CQ Research

Background Information

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries & Other Reference Sources

Sometimes, at the beginning of a research project, you want to get an overview of the research done on your topic, or you want to find background information to be able to narrow down your topic. 

To find an overview of your topic, you may want to start by looking at the articles in various encyclopedias and reference sources in the field of sociology. Many of these sources are now available online. The following ones would be particularly useful learning about race, gender, and class issues.

After you connect to the online encyclopedia, enter your topic  in the Quick Search box and select "Search within this publication".

If none of the encyclopedias below look relevant to your topic -- or you want to search many encyclopedias at once-- use the Gale Virtual Reference Library. 

Social Trends and Indicators USA

Minorities: Race and Ethnicity in America

Encyclopedia of Race and Racism

International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family

Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered History in America

Encyclopedia of Aging

Encyclopedia of Sociology

Growing Up:  Issues Affecting American Youth

Growing Old in America

Abortion: an Eternal Social and Moral Issue

Death and Dying: End of Life Controversies

GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender and Queer Culture

Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior

Sports in America: Recreation, Business, Education, and Controversy

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Illicit Drugs, 2009

Crime, Prisons, and Jails

Gun Control:  Restricting Rights or Protecting People?

Social Welfare:  Fighting Poverty and Homelessness

Weight in America:  Obesity, Eating Disorders, and Other Health Risks