Community Sociology:
A Graduate Seminar


This seminar introduces students to multiple methods of community research. The instructor's large datasets on community recovery from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, his dataset of qualitative interviews on community response to Covid 19, as well as his ongoing photographic neighborhood portraits in New Orleans, will be used to illustrate a range of methods, from quantitative to ethnographic and visual. Topics covered include how to combine quantitative, ethnographic, organizational, geo-spatial, content analytical, photo and video, comparative historical, multi-level, & other methods in community research – including issues in data collection (incl survey sampling), in-depth interviewing, and image-making – to derive a fuller picture. The instructor will walk students through the steps taken in the New Orleans research, and certain materials will be available, with limitations, for student projects. The students will be able to use the materials for exercises; they can outline and/or conduct their own research project with the data; and they can do on-going reports on handling the various methodological questions/challenges in doing community research. This seminar complements other quantitative and qualitative methods classes in the department, including survey, multi-level, geospatial, photo/video-ethnographic and standard ethnographic, and comparative-historical methods.

Seminar sessions include the following topics:

  • Concepts of community: Social capital, inequality, power, solidarity, organization, leadership, culture
  • Preparation & design of questionnaires for surveys:
    • Background ethnographic exploration.
    • Operationalizing theoretical constructs for quantitative measurement.
    • Multiple levels of data collection: community members; community leaders; organizations.
  • Working with community organizations, nonprofits, & others
  • Issues in field methods of data collection & strategies of sampling
  • Engaging with the community: issues in participant observation & action research; the role of the researcher
  • Introduction to photographic and video ethnography: field work, post-production, & editing
  • Quantitative data preparation & analysis:
    • Introduction to mapping data & geospatial analysis
    • Introduction to merging & managing data; combining one's own survey data & government data; multilevel analysis
  • Content analysis of qualitative data: Grounded theory; transcript coding & emergent categories; theory development
  • Comparative historical context and the logic of analysis
  • Combining multi-method materials to develop and test hypotheses, and tell a complete story and structural analysis

This class builds on and was inspired by the instructor's research on
Disaster recovery in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, here,
Photographic Neighborhood Portraits in New Orleans, here,
Community Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, here,
and Grassroots Mentoring, here

New Orleans Neighborhood Portraits

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are Copyright © 1998-2024 by Frederick Weil; all rights reserved.