Justice Studies 301

Dr. Menjívar


Third Take-home Assignment—Field Research




Your assignment is to pick some location or situation in which strangers are put in physical proximity to one another for a period of time.  The location will preferably a location with which you are already familiar, so this exercise will allow you to see it in a different light Examples include a bus stop, doctor’s office, a table at the library, a waiting room, etc.  However, please do not do this exercise at your place of work, as working and observing for this assignment at the same time will be very difficult.


Observe at your location for at least one hour. Examine the ways in which strangers interact with one another. Notice the ways in which they communicate: through words, facial expressions, body postures, and the like. Examine what is communicated, in what situations, with what effect, and by what kinds of people. Notice the characteristics (gender, age, etc.) of the people that you observe as well as the context in which the interactions take place. Examine also the importance of social space and physical space. Pay attention to a) the varieties in all these things, and b) any regular patterns that seem to exist. Write down all your observations. These constitute your field notes.


You will turn in about 2-3 pages (the field notes can be hand written, but the rest has to be typed, double-spaced, one inch margins, font 12) as your assignment. Your assignment consist of 1) the field notes that you took while you observed;  2) a summary of what you observed; 3) your “conclusions” or any analytical observations; and 4) how your own characteristics might affect what you observe and if it is possible to take a neutral position in conducting this kind of research.