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