Example of using sporadic conversations as a research method

Great example of how to engage with the target group of your study by sporadic conversations. The original source is an article on Trump victory and the reality of rural areas in US. In it, the political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison  Kathy Cramer speakes about his last book The Politics of Resentment, where she traces the rise of conservative Governor Scott Walker and the political evolution of Wisconsin. What Cramer says she found is that a strong sense of rural identity in the communities she visited has become a key driver of political motivation in Wisconsin. And over time, that sense of rural identity has come to be largely defined as an us vs. them mentality, with the them being people who live in cities.

Here I paste the most relevant parts regarding the methodology applied:

…what I did was to sample a broad array of communities in Wisconsin. And I asked people who lived there, “Where in this community do people go to hang out with one another?”

What’s important to understand is that these were not one-on-one interviews, these were not focus groups of people I assembled. These were groups of people who, for the most part, meet with each other every day, and they’ve been doing so for years. So I was inviting myself into their existing relationships in the places they already meet. I think that’s part of the reason why I was able to get the local texture. It wasn’t like trying to invite them on to the university campus and then trying to glean what I could out of them. Obviously the conversation changed a bit because I was there and asking questions. But these were groups of folks who were really used to talking with one another about politics.

This group was all men, older, some on their way to work and some retirees—so kind of the Trump demographic. I said to them, “What do you hope that Trump changes? Like, five years from now, what differences do you expect to see?” And initially their response was well, nothing. Nothing that presidents do ever affects us here in this place.

 

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Does mass media shape public opinion and dominant discourse regarding policy issues? Do press and public opinion converge over time?

 

“We sampled and analyzed media portrayals of the Dead Sea Water Canal from the Israel national Ha´aretz newspaper along the two time periods. We then undertook synchronic (comparative simultaneous depictions) and diachronic (historically-sensitive sequences of representations) analyses to examine these portrayals within as well as accross these periods. Ha´aretz is the oldest daily newspaper in Israel and the main stage for intelectual and policy debates in Israel (Viser, 2003). Its articles are commonly used when aiming at “elite” or “quality” press (Nossek, 2004) and therefore it serves our purpose to reflect the dominant discourse regarding policy issues. Moreover, the media outlet was selected in part due to the availability of news archives across the full period of study: from the 1970s to the present. It has been well documented and importantly cautioned elsewhere that the approach of analyzing newspaper articles carries several weakness and biases (e.g. Boykoff, 2011). Specific to this study, Ha´aretz newspaper is considered a liberal newspaper that may represent an agenda different from those of other national newspapers (e.g. Carvalho, 2007)

Fischhendler, I., Cohen-Blankshtain, G., Shuali, Y., & Boykoff, M. (2013). Communicating mega-projects in the face of uncertainties: Israeli mass media treatment of the Dead Sea Water Canal. Public Understanding of Science, 0963662513512440.

Public opinion can in fact not be measured by surveys alone, but media analysis contributes as some sort of proxy of what actors, who for example read newspaper, deem to be “the public opinion” and that “the mass media circulates images and arguments widely and thereby inform public perceptions” (Bauer, 2005a, p. 10). Combining media analysis, focus group, and surveys, Bauer (2005b, p. 63) found a “strong convergence of press and opinion over time”.

Even if media attention does not translate directly into opinion changes (Matthes and Schemer, 2012), it is still foreseeable that media articles impact (1) the importance attributed to the particular issue (agenda setting) of the public debate and (2) how the issue is dealt with, the discourses that develop around the relevant technology, and an issue that is either emphasized or minimized (framing process). While the first factor focuses on the quantity of available information, how often an issue is covered by media articles, and how the attention cycle of a certain issue develops, the second is interested in the substantive content of these articles, the broader storylines, the narratives, and the issues´sociocultural resonance that makes them attractive to journalists and readers (Scheufele and Tewskbury, 2007). Framing means to focus on an issue, select certain aspects of it and make them more salient, and finally, help, influence, or persuade the readers to understand what is at stake (Entman, 1993; Gamson and Modigiliani, 1989; Scheufele, 1999). This “twist” that journalist give the story makes it interesting. Druckman and Bolsen (2011, p. 673) using an experimental approrach can illustrate that in essence, “facts add little to frames when it comes to influencing individuals” opinions about new technologies”. It is not primarily whether the article is positive or negative; it is rather the broader context to which the issue is related (Matthes and Schemer, 2012; Nisbet, 2009). By focusing on certain aspects, other facets are of course muted or excluded.

To frame an issue, journalists rely on information they obtain from different sources in order to report news that is as realistic and objective as possible. They have a code of ethics that provides guidelines on how to deal with contradictory, uncertain, partial, or biased informaiton and how to balance the actors´ different views and often conflicting interests.

Framing is exactly how stakeholders or social movements can impact media coverage; trying to frame an issue ata an angle that meets their interests helps them promote their perspective and position (Andsager, 2000; Benford and Snow, 2000)…Of course, stakeholders have different levels of agency and power (Carrage and Roefs, 2004); some can organize media conferences, send out press releases, or invite the media to a publicly appealing event, while other issues are generally only addressed when a journalist has a specific request or question to be answered. 

Stauffacher, M., Muggli, N., Scolobig, A., & Moser, C. (2015). Framing deep geothermal energy in mass media: the case of Switzerland. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 98, 60-70.

INTRODUCTION TO THE SCIENCE OF SOCIOLOGY by Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter I. Sociology and the Social Sciences
PAGE
I. Sociology and “Scientific” History 1

II. Historical and Sociological Facts 6

III. Human Nature and Law 12

IV. History, Natural History, and Sociology 16

V. The Social Organism: Humanity or Leviathan? 24

VI. Social Control and Schools of Thought 27

VII. Social Control and the Collective Mind 36

VIII. Sociology and Social Research 43

Representative Works in Systematic Sociology and Methods of Sociological Research 57
Topics for Written Themes 60
Questions for Discussion 60

Chapter II. Human Nature

I. Introduction
1. Human Interest in Human Nature 64
2. Definition of Human Nature 65
3. Classification of the Materials 68

II. Materials

A. The Original Nature of Man
1. Original Nature Defined. Edward L. Thorndike 73
2. Inventory of Original Tendencies. Edward L. Thorndike 75
3. Man Not Born Human. Robert E. Park 76
4. The Natural Man. Milicent W. Shinn 82
5. Sex Differences. Albert Moll 85
6. Racial Differences. C. S. Myers 89
7. Individual Differences. Edward L. Thorndike 92

B. Human Nature and Social Life
1. Human Nature and Its Remaking. W. E. Hocking 95
[Pg x]2. Human Nature, Folkways, and the Mores. William G. Sumner 97
3. Habit and Custom, the Individual and the General Will. Ferdinand Tönnies 100
4. The Law, Conscience, and the General Will. Viscount Haldane 102

C. Personality and the Social Self
1. The Organism as Personality. Th. Ribot 108
2. Personality as a Complex. Morton Prince 110
3. The Self as the Individual’s Conception of His Rôle. Alfred Binet 113
4. The Natural Person versus the Social and Conventional Self. L. G. Winston 117
5. The Divided Self and Moral Consciousness. William James 119
6. Personality of Individuals and of Peoples. W. v. Bechterew 123

D. Biological and Social Heredity
1. Nature and Nurture. J. Arthur Thomson 126
2. Inheritance of Original Nature. C. B. Davenport 128
3. Inheritance of Acquired Nature: Tradition. Albert G. Keller 134
4. Temperament, Tradition, and Nationality. Robert E. Park 135

III. Investigations and Problems

1. Conceptions of Human Nature Implicit in Religious and Political Doctrines 139
2. Literature and the Science of Human Nature 141
3. Research in the Field of Original Nature 143
4. The Investigation of Human Personality 143
5. The Measurement of Individual Differences 145

Selected Bibliography 147
Topics for Written Themes 154
Questions for Discussion 155

Chapter III. Society and the Group

I. Introduction
1. Society, the Community, and the Group 159
[Pg xi]2. Classification of the Materials 162

II. Materials

A. Society and Symbiosis
1. Definition of Society. Alfred Espinas 165
2. Symbiosis (literally “living together”). William M. Wheeler 167
3. The Taming and the Domestication of Animals. P. Chalmers Mitchell 170

B. Plant Communities and Animal Societies
1. Plant Communities. Eugenius Warming 173
2. Ant Society. William E. Wheeler 180

C. Human Society
1. Social Life. John Dewey 182
2. Behavior and Conduct. Robert E. Park 185
3. Instinct and Character. L. T. Hobhouse 190
4. Collective Representation and Intellectual Life. Émile Durkheim 193

D. The Social Group
1. Definition of the Group. Albion W. Small 196
2. The Unity of the Social Group. Robert E. Park 198
3. Types of Social Groups. S. Sighele 200
4. Esprit de Corps, Morale, and Collective Representations of Social Groups. William E. Hocking 205

III. Investigations and Problems
1. The Scientific Study of Societies 210
2. Surveys of Communities 211
3. The Group as a Unit of Investigation 212
4. The Study of the Family 213

Selected Bibliography 217
Topics for Written Themes 223
Questions for Discussion 224

Chapter IV. Isolation

I. Introduction
1. Geological and Biological Conceptions of Isolation 226
2. Isolation and Segregation 228
3. Classification of the Materials 230

II. Materials

A. Isolation and Personal Individuality
1. Society and Solitude. Francis Bacon 233
[Pg xii]2. Society in Solitude. Jean Jacques Rousseau 234
3. Prayer as a Form of Isolation. George Albert Coe. 235
4. Isolation, Originality, and Erudition. T. Sharper Knowlson 237

B. Isolation and Retardation
1. Feral Men. Maurice H. Small 239
2. From Solitude to Society. Helen Keller 243
3. Mental Effects of Solitude. W. H. Hudson 245
4. Isolation and the Rural Mind. C. J. Galpin 247
5. The Subtler Effects of Isolation. W. I. Thomas. 249

C. Isolation and Segregation
1. Segregation as a Process. Robert E. Park 252
2. Isolation as a Result of Segregation. L. W. Crafts and E. A. Doll 254

D. Isolation and National Individuality
1. Historical Races as Products of Isolation. N. S. Shaler 257
2. Geographical Isolation and Maritime Contact. George Grote 260
3. Isolation as an Explanation of National Differences. William Z. Ripley 264
4. Natural versus Vicinal Location in National Development. Ellen C. Semple 268

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Isolation in Anthropogeography and Biology 269
2. Isolation and Social Groups 270
3. Isolation and Personality 271

Bibliography: Materials for the Study of Isolation 273
Topics for Written Themes 277
Questions for Discussion 278

Chapter V. Social Contacts

I. Introduction
1. Preliminary Notions of Social Contact 280
2. The Sociological Concept of Contact 281
3. Classification of the Materials 282

II. Materials

A. Physical Contact and Social Contact
1. The Frontiers of Social Contact. Albion W. Small 288
2. The Land and the People. Ellen C. Semple 289
[Pg xiii]3. Touch and Social Contact. Ernest Crawley 291

B. Social Contact in Relation to Solidarity and to Mobility
1. The In-Group and the Out-Group. W. G. Sumner. 293
2. Sympathetic Contacts versus Categoric Contacts. N. S. Shaler 294
3. Historical Continuity and Civilization. Friedrich Ratzel 298
4. Mobility and the Movement of Peoples. Ellen C. Semple 301

C. Primary and Secondary Contacts
1. Village Life in America (from the Diary of a Young Girl). Caroline C. Richards 305
2. Secondary Contacts and City Life. Robert E. Park. 311
3. Publicity as a Form of Secondary Contact. Robert E. Park 315
4. From Sentimental to Rational Attitudes. Werner Sombart 317
5. The Sociological Significance of the “Stranger.” Georg Simmel 322

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Physical Contacts 327
2. Touch and the Primary Contacts of Intimacy 329
3. Primary Contacts of Acquaintanceship 330
4. Secondary Contacts 331

Bibliography: Materials for the Study of Social Contacts 332
Topics for Written Themes 336
Questions for Discussion 336

Chapter VI. Social Interaction

I. Introduction
1. The Concept of Interaction 339
2. Classification of the Materials 341

II. Materials

A. Society as Interaction
1. The Mechanistic Interpretation of Society. Ludwig Gumplowicz 346
[Pg xiv]2. Social Interaction as the Definition of the Group in Time and Space. Georg Simmel 348

B. The Natural Forms of Communication
1. Sociology of the Senses: Visual Interaction. Georg Simmel 356
2. The Expression of the Emotions. Charles Darwin 361
3. Blushing. Charles Darwin 365
4. Laughing. L. Dugas 370

C. Language and the Communication of Ideas
1. Intercommunication in the Lower Animals. C. Lloyd Morgan 375
2. The Concept as the Medium of Human Communication. F. Max Müller 379
3. Writing as a Form of Communication. Charles H. Judd 381
4. The Extension of Communication by Human Invention. Carl Bücher 385

D. Imitation
1. Definition of Imitation. Charles H. Judd 390
2. Attention, Interest, and Imitation. G. F. Stout 391
3. The Three Levels of Sympathy. Th. Ribot 394
4. Rational Sympathy. Adam Smith 397
5. Art, Imitation, and Appreciation. Yrjö Hirn 401

E. Suggestion
1. A Sociological Definition of Suggestion. W. v. Bechterew 408
2. The Subtler Forms of Suggestion. Albert Moll 412
3. Social Suggestion and Mass or “Corporate” Action. W. v. Bechterew 415

III. Investigations and Problems
1. The Process of Interaction 420
2. Communication 421
3. Imitation 423
4. Suggestion 424

Selected Bibliography 425
Topics for Written Themes 431
Questions for Discussion 431

Chapter VII. Social Forces

I. Introduction
1. Sources of the Notion of Social Forces 435
2. History of the Concept of Social Forces 436
[Pg xv]3. Classification of the Materials 437

II. Materials

A. Trends, Tendencies, and Public Opinion
1. Social Forces in American History. A. M. Simons 443
2. Social Tendencies as Social Forces. Richard T. Ely 444
3. Public Opinion and Legislation in England. A. V. Dicey 445

B. Interests, Sentiments, and Attitudes
1. Social Forces and Interaction. Albion W. Small 451
2. Interests. Albion W. Small 454
3. Social Pressures. Arthur F. Bentley 458
4. Idea-Forces. Alfred Fouillée 461
5. Sentiments. William McDougall 464
6. Social Attitudes. Robert E. Park 467

C. The Four Wishes: A Classification of Social Forces
1. The Wish, the Social Atom. Edwin B. Holt 478
2. The Freudian Wish. John B. Watson 482
3. The Person and His Wishes. W. I. Thomas 488

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Popular Notions of Social Forces 491
2. Social Forces and History 493
3. Interests, Sentiments, and Attitudes as Social Forces 494
4. Wishes and Social Forces 497

Selected Bibliography 498
Topics for Written Themes 501
Questions for Discussion 502

Chapter VIII. Competition

I. Introduction
1. Popular Conceptions of Competition 505
2. Competition a Process of Interaction 507
3. Classification of the Materials 511

II. Materials

A. The Struggle for Existence
1. Different Forms of the Struggle for Existence. J. Arthur Thomson 513
2. Competition and Natural Selection. Charles Darwin 515
3. Competition, Specialization, and Organization. Charles Darwin 519
[Pg xvi]4. Man: An Adaptive Mechanism. George W. Crile 522

B. Competition and Segregation
1. Plant Migration, Competition, and Segregation. F. E. Clements 526
2. Migration and Segregation. Carl Bücher 529
3. Demographic Segregation and Social Selection. William Z. Ripley 534
4. Inter-racial Competition and Race Suicide. Francis A. Walker 539

C. Economic Competition
1. Changing Forms of Economic Competition. John B. Clark 544
2. Competition and the Natural Harmony of Individual Interests. Adam Smith 550
3. Competition and Freedom. Frédéric Bastiat 551
4. Money and Freedom. Georg Simmel 552

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Biological Competition 553
2. Economic Competition 554
3. Competition and Human Ecology 558
4. Competition and the “Inner Enemies”: the Defectives, the Dependents, and the Delinquents 559

Selected Bibliography 562
Topics for Written Themes 562
Questions for Discussion 563

Chapter IX. Conflict

I. Introduction
1. The Concept of Conflict 574
2. Classification of the Materials 576

II. Materials

A. Conflict as Conscious Competition
1. The Natural History of Conflict. W. I. Thomas 579
2. Conflict as a Type of Social Interaction. Georg Simmel 582
3. Types of Conflict Situations. Georg Simmel 586

B. War, Instincts, and Ideals
1. War and Human Nature. William A. White 594
2. War as a Form of Relaxation. G. T. W. Patrick 598
[Pg xvii]3. The Fighting Animal and the Great Society. Henry Rutgers Marshall 600

C. Rivalry, Cultural Conflicts, and Social Organization

1. Animal Rivalry. William H. Hudson 604
2. The Rivalry of Social Groups. George E. Vincent 605
3. Cultural Conflicts and the Organization of Sects. Franklin H. Giddings 610

D. Racial Conflicts
1. Social Contacts and Race Conflict. Robert E. Park 616
2. Conflict and Race Consciousness. Robert E. Park 623
3. Conflict and Accommodation. Alfred H. Stone 631

III. Investigations and Problems
1. The Psychology and Sociology of Conflict, Conscious Competition, and Rivalry 638
2. Types of Conflict 639
3. The Literature of War 641
4. Race Conflict 642
5. Conflict Groups 643

Selected Bibliography 645
Topics for Written Themes 660
Questions for Discussion 661

Chapter X. Accommodation

I. Introduction
1. Adaptation and Accommodation 663
2. Classification of the Materials 666

II. Materials

A. Forms of Accommodation
1. Acclimatization. Daniel G. Brinton 671
2. Slavery Defined. H. J. Nieboer 674
3. Excerpts from the Journal of a West India Slave Owner. Matthew G. Lewis 677
4. The Origin of Caste in India. John C. Nesfield 681
5. Caste and the Sentiments of Caste Reflected in Popular Speech. Herbert Risley 684

B. Subordination and Superordination
1. The Psychology of Subordination and Superordination. Hugo Münsterberg 688
[Pg xviii]2. Social Attitudes in Subordination: Memories of an Old Servant. An Old Servant 692
3. The Reciprocal Character of Subordination and Superordination. Georg Simmel 695
4. Three Types of Subordination and Superordination. Georg Simmel 697

C. Conflict and Accommodation
1. War and Peace as Types of Conflict and Accommodation. Georg Simmel 703
2. Compromise and Accommodation. Georg Simmel 706

D. Competition, Status, and Social Solidarity
1. Personal Competition, Social Selection, and Status. Charles H. Cooley 708
2. Personal Competition and the Evolution of Individual Types. Robert E. Park 712
3. Division of Labor and Social Solidarity. Émile Durkheim 714

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Forms of Accommodation 718
2. Subordination and Superordination 721
3. Accommodation Groups 721
4. Social Organization 723

Selected Bibliography 725
Topics for Written Themes 732
Questions for Discussion 732

Chapter XI. Assimilation

I. Introduction
1. Popular Conceptions of Assimilation 734
2. The Sociology of Assimilation 735
3. Classification of the Materials 737

II. Materials

A. Biological Aspects of Assimilation
1. Assimilation and Amalgamation. Sarah E. Simons 740
2. The Instinctive Basis of Assimilation. W. Trotter 742

B. The Conflict and Fusion of Cultures
1. The Analysis of Blended Cultures. W. H. R. Rivers 746
2. The Extension of Roman Culture in Gaul. John H. Cornyn 751
3. The Competition of the Cultural Languages. E. H. Babbitt 754
[Pg xix]4. The Assimilation of Races. Robert E. Park 756

C. Americanization as a Problem in Assimilation
1. Americanization as Assimilation 762
2. Language as a Means and a Product of Participation 763
3. Assimilation and the Mediation of Individual Differences 766

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Assimilation and Amalgamation 769
2. The Conflict and Fusion of Cultures 771
3. Immigration and Americanization 772

Selected Bibliography 775
Topics for Written Themes 783
Questions for Discussion 783

Chapter XII. Social Control

I. Introduction
1. Social Control Defined 785
2. Classification of the Materials 787

II. Materials

A. Elementary Forms of Social Control
1. Control in the Crowd and the Public. Lieut. J. S. Smith 800
2. Ceremonial Control. Herbert Spencer 805
3. Prestige. Lewis Leopold 807
4. Prestige and Status in South East Africa. Maurice S. Evans 811
5. Taboo. W. Robertson Smith 812

B. Public Opinion
1. The Myth. Georges Sorel 816
2. The Growth of a Legend. Fernand van Langenhove 819
3. Ritual, Myth, and Dogma. W. Robertson Smith 822
4. The Nature of Public Opinion. A. Lawrence Lowell 826
5. Public Opinion and the Mores. Robert E. Park 829
6. News and Social Control. Walter Lippmann 834
7. The Psychology of Propaganda. Raymond Dodge 837

C. Institutions
1. Institutions and the Mores. W. G. Sumner 841
2. Common Law and Statute Law. Frederic J. Stimson 843
[Pg xx]3. Religion and Social Control. Charles A. Ellwood 846

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Social Control and Human Nature 848
2. Elementary Forms of Social Control 849
3. Public Opinion and Social Control 850
4. Legal Institutions and Law 851

Selected Bibliography 854
Topics for Written Themes 862
Questions for Discussion 862

Chapter XIII. Collective Behavior

I. Introduction
1. Collective Behavior Defined 865
2. Social Unrest and Collective Behavior 866
3. The Crowd and the Public 867
4. Crowds and Sects 870
5. Sects and Institutions 872
6. Classification of the Materials 874

II. Materials
A. Social Contagion
1. An Incident in a Lancashire Cotton Mill 878
2. The Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages. J. F. C. Hecker 879

B. The Crowd
1. The “Animal” Crowd 881
a) The Flock. Mary Austin 881
b) The Herd. W. H. Hudson 883
c) The Pack. Ernest Thompson Seton 886
2. The Psychological Crowd. Gustave Le Bon 887
3. The Crowd Defined. Robert E. Park 893

C. Types of Mass Movements
1. Crowd Excitements and Mass Movements: The Klondike Rush. T. C. Down 895
2. Mass Movements and the Mores: The Woman’s Crusade. Annie Wittenmyer 898
3. Mass Movements and Revolution
a) The French Revolution. Gustave Le Bon 905
b) Bolshevism. John Spargo 909
[Pg xxi]4. Mass Movements and Institutions: Methodism. William E. H. Lecky 915

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Social Unrest 924
2. Psychic Epidemics 926
3. Mass Movements 927
4. Revivals, Religious and Linguistic 929
5. Fashion, Reform, and Revolution 933

Selected Bibliography 934
Topics for Written Themes 951
Questions for Discussion 951

Chapter XIV. Progress

I. Introduction
1. Popular Conceptions of Progress 953
2. The Problem of Progress 956
3. History of the Concept of Progress 958
4. Classification of the Materials 962

II. Materials

A. The Concept of Progress
1. The Earliest Conception of Progress. F. S. Marvin 965
2. Progress and Organization. Herbert Spencer 966
3. The Stages of Progress. Auguste Comte 968
4. Progress and the Historical Process. Leonard T. Hobhouse 969

B. Progress and Science
1. Progress and Happiness. Lester F. Ward 973
2. Progress and Prevision. John Dewey 975
3. Progress and the Limits of Scientific Prevision. Arthur J. Balfour 977
4. Eugenics as a Science of Progress. Francis Galton 979

C. Progress and Human Nature
1. The Nature of Man. George Santayana 983
2. Progress and the Mores. W. G. Sumner 983
3. War and Progress. James Bryce 984
4. Progress and the Cosmic Urge
a) The Élan Vitale. Henri Bergson 989
b) The Dunkler Drang. Arthur Schopenhauer 994

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Progress and Social Research 1000
2. Indices of Progress 1002

Selected Bibliography 1004
Topics for Written Themes 1010
Questions for Discussion 1010