The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers students the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research with departmental faculty. Students might begin the process by exploring the departmental faculty website to identify professors who have expertise in research areas that overlap with student interests. After identifying possible faculty to work with, students should reach out to those faculty via email to set up an initial meeting.

Students might also consider joining an existing research project. For descriptions of these projects, see below.

Love In The Bubble: An Anthropological Research Project on Elon Student Experiences with Sex, Love, and Relationships

The Love In The Bubble (LITB) project is an ongoing anthropological research project that aims to document Elon students’ beliefs, behaviors, and experiences related to sex, love, and relationships. The primary focus of the project is to use Elon’s setting (the real and imagined boundaries of the Elon campus) and its population’s temporality (the 4 year residency of students) as a behavioral ecology approach to learn about the following:

  • How does Elon University’s location, size, and campus life organization shape student beliefs, behaviors, and/or experiences?
  • How do social markers of difference (i.e. gender, sexual preference/identity, race/ethnicity, class background, religious affiliation, Greek affiliation, etc.) shape student beliefs, behaviors, and/or experiences?
  • How do Elon student experiences compare to students at other, similar or dissimilar Universities?

Ways to get involved:

  1. First-year students can take the Anthropology 171A seminar and become instantly socialized into the campus culture via immersive participant observation
  2. Advanced students can draw on existing data (Qualtrics Surveys, Dedoose data, student papers, etc) to work on independent study projects or even senior theses
  3. Any student can draw on archived data and contribute to the collection in whatever disciplinary fashion (quantitative and qualitative)

Email Dr. Muriel Vernon at mvernon@elon.edu if you are interested in joining this project.

Understanding Culture through Content Analysis

“You can’t measure culture!” Dr. Ghoshal’s students in Quantitative Methods (SOC216/ANT216) have taken up this challenge by using content analysis, a method that systematically analyzes already-existing cultural artifacts such as magazine advertisements, children’s books, pop songs, Tweets, webpages, Tinder profiles, course syllabi, and more to learn about culture. Is pop music more sexualized now than in 1990? Has representation in Disney movies changed over time, and how are male and female characters depicted differently? Are American TV shows more violent than Canadian ones? Content analysis can be used to find clear and interesting answers to these and other questions related to culture, often with special focus on issues of gender, race, and representation.

Ways to get involved:

  1. First-year students can take the SOC216/ANT216 and conduct research as part of the class.
  2. Students interested in this work can draw on existing data and/or collect new data to continue this work as part of independent research projects.

Email Dr. Raj Ghoshal at rghoshal@elon.edu if you are interested in joining this project.

Audit Studies of Discrimination

Following civil rights victories of the 1960s, many individuals and businesses became reluctant to admit discriminating by race, gender, or other traits. Researchers developed audit studies as a means of uncovering hidden discrimination. Initially, researchers would send two matched individuals, usually one white and one African American, armed with equal qualifications, to apply for the same sets of jobs or housing opportunities, and observe whether they received similar response. In the last 15 years, audit studies have moved online, and researchers have used this method to study discrimination by race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and other traits in areas including housing, jobs, therapists’ responsiveness, treatment by government officials, and more.

Some of Dr. Ghoshal’s students in Quantitative Methods (SOC216/ANT216) have undertaken original audit studies of their own. Most have studied unequal treatment in roommate-search markets. If Lakisha and Amanda each reply to 100 roommate-wanted ads, using equally well-written messages that suggest they are both well-educated and employed, how many responses will each receive? If two male identities reply, with one mentioning a boyfriend and the other mentioning a girlfriend, will they be treated differently? Will a well-written message from someone whose name suggests Hispanic ancestry receive more responses than a poorly-written message from someone whose name signals white ancestry?

Ways to get involved:

  1. First-year students can take the SOC216/ANT216 and conduct research as part of the class.
  2. Students interested in this work can draw on existing data and/or collect new data to continue this work as part of independent research projects.

Email Dr. Raj Ghoshal at rghoshal@elon.edu if you are interested in joining this project.

Immigrant and Refugee Resettlement in the Local Community

Dr. Idris has an ongoing research project with immigrants in Greensboro working in partnership with a refugee resettlement agency to better understand the processes by which refugees from East Africa and beyond adjust to their new life in North Carolina. This includes understanding the challenges and opportunities refugees have in their resettlement process, as well as the challenges and opportunities the resettlement agency and its workers and volunteers face while serving the newly resettled refugees. In the recent past, Dr. Idris has involved several Elon students in his volunteer work (for instance, guiding refugee families to adjust to their new lives) and in his research projects (including presenting with students in national Anthropology conferences), and he is certainly willing to continue doing so if there is a good fit between the student’s interests and Dr. Idris’ areas of expertise.

Ways to get involved:

  1. Students with a clear interest in these topics can join the project as a volunteer, research assistant or research investigator.

Email Dr. Mussa Idris at midris@elon.edu if you are interested in joining this project.

Shifting Perceptions of the Confederate Flag

From the highly publicized debates over the Confederate flag flying over the SC statehouse, to its use in recent racially motivated attacks to the frequent and unheralded display of the flag on bumper stickers and ball caps throughout the South, the Confederate flag has been a contentious symbol with advocates and opponents equally passionate about its meaning and appropriateness. This research project involves interviewing self-identified southern and northern men and women, black and white, between the ages of 18-30, about their perceptions of the Confederate flag. The study is longitudinal and will be tracking shifts over time. Key concepts this project will address include: stereotype, race, class and politics in the US South, constructions of regional identity, symbolic interpretation, and material culture.

Ways to get involved:

  1. First-year students can take the ANT3712 Cultures of the South and conduct research as part of the class.
  2. Advanced students can draw on existing data to work on independent research projects.

Email Tom Mould at tmould@elon.edu if you are interested in joining this project.