We are thrilled to have three sociology majors writing honors theses this academic year! Each of these honors students worked with a faculty member in the Sociology Department to conduct research on a sociological topic and write an honors thesis. The students then presented their projects at Brockport’s Scholars’ Day. Here, we highlight each of these honors students and profile the great work they completed in their honors project.
“An Analysis of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ Movement in News Media” by Haley Huey (advised by Dr. Melody Boyd)
The media plays an important role in shaping our perceptions and treatment of others. It is therefore critical to analyze what the media is conveying to its audiences. Using content analysis, this work analyzes news articles written about the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement within a one-year period, between November 1, 2014 and November 1, 2015. A random sample of articles from four news sources, (CNN, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, and The New York Times) was collected, for a total of 160 articles. Quantitative and qualitative content analysis was employed, in which the number of times various phrases and perspectives occurred in the news stories, as well as qualitative examples, were captured. The following two broad, interconnected questions were foundational to this project: (1) What do news articles written about the Black Lives Matter movement express to readership and the public? (2) What does news coverage convey about black lives, police brutality, and the social movement as a whole? Analysis of the overall dataset revealed four main themes in media framing of the Black Lives Matter movement: (1) racial inequality and inclusivity, (2) Policy and political activism as a source of change, (3) violence and the movement, and (4) discrediting the cause. Results include that news media tends to frame the Black Lives Matter movement as a socially diverse agent against police brutality that disproportionately impacts Black men. The movement is also framed as having ambiguous goals for social change, and promoting violence and political correctness.
“A Vicious Cycle of Abuse: The Relationship between Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty” by Leah Staley (advised by Dr. Tristan Bridges)
This Honor’s thesis explores numerous studies on the social relationship between two forms of violence: domestic intimate partner violence and animal cruelty and abuse. It not only depicts that there is in fact a relationship between the two forms of violence but also shows how this topic can be viewed from multiple perspectives. This is a quantitative analysis of past research on this particular topic. It examines what constitutes animal cruelty and domestic violence, what causes people to treat other people and animals in this manner, who are more likely to perpetrators of abuse and also victims of domestic violence, and the different types of mistreatment among abuse animals and people experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). In addition, this paper examines what kind of laws and services are in place in efforts to combat this issue. Finally, I present resources for those who wish to make a difference and report any cases of cruelty towards people and animals. It is almost certain that if humans hurt other humans, they are most likely harming animals. And if they are harming animals they are more likely to harm humans. Even though most of my research portrays men as more likely to harm other humans and animals, that doesn’t mean that women are not also among abusers. This topic requires further investigation including more variables and better data to get a more accurate depiction on the entire scope of the cycle of violence that not only impacts the victims of cruelty, but society as a whole.
“Mass Media and Mass Shootings: The Discrepancies between Workplace and School Shootings” by Nicole Wheeler (advised by Dr. Tara Tober)
Workplace shootings have received very little coverage both in the media and in research. Prior studies have shown that workplace shootings are their own unique entity. Yet, most of the research focuses on mass shootings in schools, or mass shootings in general with little emphasis on workplace violence as a specific form, if any at all. This study compares workplace shootings to school shootings and denotes the similarities and differences between the two both in general and the way they are covered by national news sources like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. It covers shootings between 1966 and 2015, and includes 42 workplace shootings and 50 school shootings. Some of the most interesting findings in my research included a higher suicide rate for workplace shooters, higher number of fatalities in workplace shootings, higher number of injuries to victims in school shootings, and the overuse of positive adjectives to describe school shooters by the media when compared with workplace shooters. My findings have led me to believe that the workplace shootings in my dataset were unique in a number of ways compared to the school shootings. Future research should keep this in mind and conduct a more in-depth analysis of this particular type of shooting.
In describing her experience working on the honors project, Nicole Wheeler stated: “Conducting this research has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to date. Through the experience, I was able to get to know my professors and thesis director better. It was a rewarding challenge to take on a senior honors thesis, but well worth the time and energy!” We agree with that sentiment and we congratulate all three students on their hard work and insightful research!