SOLUTION: San Francisco State Political Opportunity Causes Protest Sociology Research

Title of Your Research Proposal
(something descriptive but catchy)
*New content for Part 3 is in red
Introduction
The introduction to your research proposal should provide your reader with a quick summary of
what is to come and include a persuasive argument for why your research is necessary. The
introduction should consist of four main paragraphs (or something very similar in format). In the
first paragraph you should clearly state your topic and outcome to be explained and also make a
compelling case for why your research project matters. Specifically, this first paragraph should
contain:
(1) The broad subject your research project will address
(2) A description of your topic in one sentence, including the outcome (DV) to be
explained. You should also mention any scope conditions, such as the year range or
possible population of cases (e.g. your outcome to be explained are 20th century coup
d’etats in Latin America)
(3) The practical and/or conceptual problem your research will address
(4) “So what?” Why does addressing this practical or conceptual problem matter?
The second paragraph should provide a more detailed description of your main variables
and incorporate the following information:
(1) A longer description of your outcome including a definition from a peer-reviewed
research article or book (it can be an empirical or theoretical piece)
(2) One or two main IVs that you think will best explain your outcome. You should use
and cite previous research to determine possible IVs (e.g. “Skocpol’s (1979) findings
point to the causal importance of the organizational capacity of the peasantry in
explaining social revolution. Thus, in this research I will focus on the organizational
capacity of the disenfranchised in attempting to explain major social upheaval.”) Like
your outcome, you should provide a definition/conceptualization of your main IV(s).
Explain how they might be linked (this can be from the previous research you find).
The third paragraph should focus on explaining why comparative historical analysis is the
most appropriate research approach to explain your outcome. Here you should specifically cite at
least TWO readings from this course to explain why you need comparative and historical
methods to explain your outcome. Of course you are designing this research proposal to fit with
this research approach, but phrase this paragraph as if someone outside of this course was
reading your proposal and you are making the case to them (someone who does not know what
comparative historical analysis is) that this is the correct approach to use instead of any other
methodological approach. This is also a chance for you to demonstrate to me that you understand
what comparative and historical methods are and how your topic and outcome fit.
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The fourth, and final, paragraph should summarize your methods section and pilot study
findings. Provide the reader with a quick overview of the cases you plan to compare, the types of
data you plan to collect, how those data will help answer your question, and the main empirical
takeaways from the primary documents you analyzed.
Methods
This section of your proposal should detail exactly how you plan to conduct your research,
including justifications for making particular methodological decisions (e.g. why particular cases
were chosen). In a “real” full proposal, there would be a “literature review” section prior to a
“methods” section. However, because this is a methods course and we have limited time, your
methods section should instead open with a very quick review of the literature before proceeding
to talk about the methods in detail. For this opening section, you should discuss and cite at least
TWO peer-reviewed, empirical scholarly articles or books that address your topic. The main
point is to discuss what is known about your topic (e.g. “Smith’s (2014) study of the policy
history of gendered pay inequity demonstrates that there have been pattered changes in the way
that pay equity has been defined over the last 100 years.”) and also to identify what gaps in our
understanding still exist and how your research will help fill those gaps (e.g. “However, Smith’s
(2014) research is purely descriptive and so we still do not understand why definitions changes in
substantial ways nor do we understand how changing definitions were incorporated into policy
proposals.”). Think of this opening paragraph as making the intellectual case for your research.
This can be tied to a conceptual problem you outlined in the introduction but should stem from
the previous research you find and describe. You should also make sure to reiterate, based on
your newly described research and/or theory, how you think your main variables are related.
Research Question, Main Variables, and Cases
In this subsection, you should provide the specific research question your project will answer.
This is a more narrowed version of your research topic that includes measurable concepts and is
written as a question.
In the introduction, you are asked to provide specific definitions for your main variables.
At that point in your proposal, your variables will largely still be in abstract, conceptual form. In
this section, you should detail specifically how you are conceptualizing and operationalizing the
main variables included in your research question. If your outcome is binary, you need to
explain how you know your outcome when you see it; for example, what criteria are you
including to differentiate your outcome from a prior qualitative state or a similar but qualitatively
different phenomenon (Skocpol’s discussion of social revolution is a good example of this).
Also, refer to my videos “Basic Research Questions” and “From Concepts to Data” from the
Week 2 and Week 9 modules for an explanation on how to transform abstract concepts into
identifiable observations.
Lastly, explain in greater detail your population of cases, which cases you have selected
for contextualized comparison, and why. Again, this should be a more comprehensive
description than you provide in the introduction. Here, you should make sure to cite course
readings in order to justify your decisions; for instance, Cook-Martin & FitzGerald (2010),
Skocpol (1979), or Lange (2014).
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Data Collection
In this subsection, you should provide an overview of your data collection strategy. Most
comparative historical researchers do not know, at the outset, all of the data they will find and
use; however, there should be a data collection strategy that is informed by knowledge of the
case, hypotheses to test, prior research, etc. You can propose to use primary sources, secondary
sources, or a combination but you must justify how that source, and the data therein, will help
answer your research question. Remember that for the pilot study below you will need to analyze
at least two pieces of primary data (so those primary documents should be included in your data
collection plan). You should be as specific as you can including describing what the data are,
where they are located/stored, and how you will access them. See the extra resource “Data
Collection Plan Sample” in the Week 7 module. You can use the tables provided in those
handouts for your assignment and/or simply use them to help you devise your collection strategy.
Either way, make sure you comprehensively describe what sources you will use to find data,
what data you are specifically looking for, and how those data will help you answer your
research question. Refer to Week 7 readings and the video “Finding and Using Historical Data”
in the Week 7 module.
Data Analysis
In this final subsection, you should explain how you plan to analyze the data that you collect.
This should include a description of and justification for your overall analysis approach. You can
use one of the analysis approaches we discussed in Week 6, discussed by Mahoney (2004),
discussed in the “Simple Guide to Qualitative Coding” link under the “Extras/Handouts” Week 9
Module, or any other reading from the course or that you found. The most important thing is to
describe what your analysis approach is, why it is the best to answer your research question, and
what you will actually be looking for.
Pilot Study
This section constitutes the majority of new work you will need to complete for Part 3. For this
part of your research proposal you need to locate, collect (actually get a digital copy of that
document), and analyze at least TWO PRIMARY DOCUMENTS. You can choose any two
primary documents—newspapers, legislative testimony transcripts, minutes from meetings or
conventions, advertisements, diaries or autobiographies, private letters or memos, etc.–that you
believe help answer your research question. These documents should clearly tell you one of the
specific things you need to know to answer your research question, including helping you
measure your independent variable, demonstrating specific mechanisms through which your IV
and DV are linked, and more.
For each document, begin by describing, in a couple sentences, what the document is
(including when it was created, who produced the document, and where you collected it from)
and why it helps you answer your research question. Next, using Milligan’s (1979) criteria for
“internal and external criticism” evaluate the reliability of that document as a piece of historical
evidence. Then explain what exactly you are intending to observe in the document (e.g. the use
of specific phrases that you think indicates cultural categories of worth, as you laid out in the
methods section). Lastly, detail what you found in the document and what you can infer from
those findings. This summary can include specific excerpts from the document used as
illustrative examples of your more general findings. Steensland’s (2006) empirical findings
section provides many good examples of ways to summarize the major takeaway(s) from a
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document or group of documents, ways to use illustrative excerpts to demonstrate the major
takeaway(s), and how to make inferences from those findings.
The write-up for each document should be several paragraphs long. Since I will not
actually be able to see the document you need to provide enough detail so that I have a good
sense for what it is, why it is important, what it contains, and what inferences you can make from
that document.
References
Here you should provide the full citations for anything you cite in the text above. Make sure that
you are using and citing resources in accordance with the directions for each section (e.g. citing
two outside scholarly, peer-reviewed articles/books for the “mini literature review”). Make to use
ASA citation format and keep the citation format consistent throughout. Here is a resource you
can use for ASA format:
https://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/savvy/documents/teaching/pdfs/Quick_Tips_for_ASA_
Style.pdf
Also, make sure in-text citations (i.e., when you cite your sources in the body of your
write-up) provide the names of the author(s), year of publication, and page numbers if you
provide direct quotes. The reference list provided in this section should be ordered
alphabetically, according to the last name of the first author; each line after the first, should be
indented, and all references should be separated by a single line. Refer to the syllabus for correct
citations of course readings.
Example reference list:
Hacker, Jacob S. and Paul Pierson. 2010. “Winner-Take-All Politics: Public Policy,
Political Organization, and the Precipitous Rise of Top Incomes in the United States.”
Politics & Society 38(2): 152-204.
Kenworthy, Lane. 2010. “Rising Inequality, Public Policy, and America’s Poor.”
Challenge 53(6): 93-109.
Wright, Erik Olin. 1995. “The Class Analysis of Poverty.” International Journal of
Health Services 25(1): 85-100.
Examples of in-text citation (totally made up findings and sources):
Ross and Johnson (2020) find that California counties that implemented universal mask
mandates had lower infection rates, on average, than counties that did not implement a mandate.
However, there has not been consistent compliance by residents across counties. Counties with
mask mandates but low compliance saw infection rates similar to those without any mandate at
all (Harper 2020, Merritt and Marx 2020). As Harper (2020: 54) argues, “policies, like all rules,
are only effective if they actually change behavior.”
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Running head: POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY CUASE PROTEST
Political Opportunity Causes Protest
Rang Cao
3 February 2021
1
POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY CUASE PROTEST
2
Introduction
Racial discrimination in the justice system which led to protests. The United States has
racial discrimination in the judicial system, and this discrimination has been lingering in the
judicial system for a long time. My outcome to be explain is that protests after George
Floyd’s murder in 2020. The practical questions that I looked at were when people would
protest and who would protest. Studying this question can explain why protests exist and
their role in solving the problem.
Let’s start with the theory of the cause of the protest. David S. Meyer has discussed
(2014), “the key elements of political opportunity include salient public grievances; a
political context that includes both institutional rules and public values, political space for
activist mobilization; political alignments, particularly on the issue of concern” (p.34). This
means that the reason for the protest comes from the pursuit of political power, because there
is an inequality in political power that gives rise to the protest. The protest against George
Floyd was about racial discrimination, about equality for blacks in the justice system. In this
article, I would focus on the role of political opportunity in protest. Hence, the role of
political opportunity is my IV. My second IV is the effect of the political system on political
opportunity. In P. K. Eisinger’s (1973) view, “An open regime provides a path for the political
expression of a particular social class or responds to a particular social class’s political
demands” (p.11-28). This means that in a relatively open political system, political
opportunity plays a greater role. Under such a political system, the number and scale of
protests would also be larger. According to Derrick Bryson Taylor (2020), “in cities across the
United States, tens of thousands of people have swarmed the streets to express their outrage
and sorrow during the day” (Taylor 2020: 34). This also confirms my guess. Under America’s
open political system, protests are frequent and relatively large. David S. Meyer has
discussed (2014) three key factors in shaping a protest, which refers to protests that
POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY CUASE PROTEST
3
sometimes support or repudiate party affiliations (Meyer 2014:11). My guess is that the
Democrats are in the majority in this protest, since 2020 is a Republican year. The
Republican Party will not join the protests in order to preserve its hold on power. Therefore,
my outcome is that most of the people who participated in this protest were people of color,
who, after all, were fighting for their political power. Next came the Democrats. Republicans
were in the minority. Political opportunity is the main reason for protest.
The comparison and historical method gave me a great reference on why protests took
place and the sources of racial discrimination. Protests about the pursuit of political equality
have been common throughout history. Accordingly, “history means both the facts of the
matter and a narrative of those facts, both “what happened” and “that which is said to have
happened.” the first meaning places the emphasis on the sociohistorical process, the second
on our knowledge of that process or on a story about that process” (Trouillot 1995:4). That
means the power of history, history is the knowledge that comes out of our research. This has
the reference function to the modern research. Moreover, the comparative and historical
method emphasizes the application of theory, “structure is so rhetorically powerful and
pervasive a term that any attempt to legislate its abolition would be futile (Sewell 1999:2).
This is consistent with my research. Because my IV is about the role of political opportunity
in protests, the structure of political opportunity is very important. In the study of sociology,
the application of theory is the support point of the whole study, which brings a very good
basis for the study.
POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY CUASE PROTEST
4
References
Eisinger, P. K. 1973. The Conditions of Protest Behavior in American Cities. American
Political Science Review, Vol.67, pp.11-28.
Meyer, David S. 2014. The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America. New York:
Oxford University Press. 2nd edition. pp.34-54.
Sewell, William H. 1999. “A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation.” The
University of Chicago Press. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 98, No. 1 (Jul., 1992),
pp. 1-29.
Taylor, Derrick Bryson. 2020, “George Floyd Protests: A Timeline.” The New York
Times. https://www.nytimes.com/article/george-floyd-protests-timeline.html.
Trouillor, Michel-Rolph. 1995. “Silencing the past: power and the production of history.”
Beacon Press, ISBN 978-0-8070-8053
Running head: POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY CUASE PROTEST
Political Opportunity Causes Protest
Rang Cao
Professor: Heather Harper
25 February 2021
1
POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY CUASE PROTEST
2
Introduction
Racial discrimination in the justice system has led to protests. The United States has
racial discrimination in the judicial system, and this discrimination has been lingering in the
judicial system for a long time. My outcome to be explained are the protests after George
Floyd’s murder in 2020. The practical questions that I looked at were when and by whom
people would protest. Studying this issue can help us explain how racial inequality triggers
protests and how we should fundamentally eliminate racial discrimination and resolve violent
protests caused by racial inequality.
Let’s start with the theory of the cause of the protest. David S. Meyer has discussed
(2014), “the key elements of political opportunity include salient public grievances; a
political context that includes both institutional rules and public values, political space for
activist mobilization; political alignments, particularly on the issue of concern” (Meyer,
2014: 34). This means that the reason for the protest comes from the pursuit of political
power because there is an inequality in political power that gives rise to the protest. The
protest against George Floyd was about racial discrimination, about equality for blacks in the
justice system. In this research, I would focus on the role of political opportunity in protest.
As Meyer (2004: 126) argues, “As an important part of the theory of political process, the
theory of political opportunity structure focuses on the external structural factors that
promote the generation of social movements” (Meyer, 2004: 126). That is to say, through a
set of political opportunity variables to explain the relationship between protesters and protest
targets (often governments) and the impact of interaction on the form and result of the
movement. Hence, the role of political opportunity is my IV. My second IV is the effect of
the political system on the political opportunity. In P. K. Eisinger’s (1973) view, “An open
regime provides a path for the political expression of a particular social class or responds to a
particular social class’s political demands” (Eisinger, 1973: 11-28). This means that in a
POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY CUASE PROTEST
3
relatively open political system, political opportunity plays a greater role. Under such a
political system, the number and scal …
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