Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant. Or use what Mill’s refers to as the “Sociological Imagination” – (Refer to Fig.4. on pg.71 Kirby Text.) /Describe the general area to be studied. Explain why this area is important to the general understanding of the study (e.g. of the recent events in Quebec and the rise of Islamaphobia, one could begin with a broad introduction of post 9/11 politics to give background/context)
Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant. Or use what Mill’s refers to as the “Sociological Imagination” – (Refer to Fig.4. on pg.71 Kirby Text.)/Describe the general area to be studied. Explain why this area is important to the general understanding of the study (e.g. of the recent events in Quebec and the
rise of Islamaphobia, one could begin with a broad introduction of post 9/11 politics to give background/context)
Research Proposal Outline
Proposal Length: 5-8 Pages (excluding cover page and bibliography)
Minimum Sources: 5
PLEASE REFER TO THE BOOK: Experience Research Social Change, Methods Beyond the Mainstream. By Sandra L Kirby, Lorraine Greaves, and Colleen Reid.
Kindly find below an outline for the research proposal. Clearly indicate sections of the paper by using subheadings that show where the varying kinds of information
can be found.
Helpful Readings for this portion
(Chapter 4: Pgs.68-71) (Chapter 7: Operationalizing Research)
*How to operationalize a research interest into an inquiry? (Pg.120-122 especially helpful, Fig.7: Shows Theoretical Plans to Practical Application.)
• Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant. Or use what Mill’s refers to as the “Sociological Imagination” – (Refer to Fig.4. on pg.71 Kirby
• Describe the general area to be studied. Explain why this area is important to the general understanding of the study (e.g. of the recent events in Quebec and
the rise of Islamaphobia, one could begin with a broad introduction of post 9/11 politics to give background/context)
B) Background/Review of the Literature (Mention 3-4 works in this section)
Helpful Readings (Kirby.Ch#6:Pg.108 Conducting a Literature Review)
*Refer to scholarly sources published in the last 10-15 years, try to avoid older sources if researching contemporary phenomenon*(Kirby.pg.108)
• A description of what is already known about this topic and a short analysis of why the scholarship on the topic is not sufficient/ or what gaps are present.
• Summarize what is already known about the field; include a summary of the major arguments being presented/ or major debates in the field and draw on the
author’s conclusions and or findings.
• Discuss several critical studies that have already been done in your proposed area.
• Assert why these studies are insufficient. Discuss any gaps in scholarship that you would like to investigate?
• Specify the one question you are pursuing in your research proposal and show how your research questions are related to the larger issues/gaps indicated in
• Make note of what your chosen authors failed to address or answer.
C) Method and Methodology
Pgs.126-168 in the Kirby text covers extensively on varying research methods such as sampling methods interviews, questionnaires, etc.
• A description of how you would collect data, go about sampling, and or distributing the questions you are posing. You are not required to come up with an
original method (Please refer to Instruments Lecture). (Kirby.Pg.108)
• Look at scholarly articles/the Kirby text/Lecture notes to determine what methods are standardly used to assess “knowledge/inquiries” in your chosen field and
adopt one of these for your proposal. (If possible try and find a case/study similar to yours and look into the methods/methodology/instruments applied in it)
• Describe the general methodology you chose for your proposal. Explain why this method is the best for your inquiry.
• Who is your target participant, who and why? Are there any participants you would exclude from the sampling, or any participants who may not qualify for
participation? Why, why not? (Kirby.Pgs.183-185)
• Describe the sample you would analyze and explain why you have chosen this sample.
• Include age, background, socio-economic strata, and other demographic information, but only if relevant to the methodology you are applying.
• Depending on your topic, you may or may not have human participants, in which case you would only need a content analysis, therefore you may for-go the portion
that asks about the participant demographics and strictly speak to the context analysis and the samples used by the authors/articles/cases you are reviewing (if any).
D) Significance and Conclusion/ and or Policy Implications (if applicable)
Helpful readings for this section Pg.218, and Pgs. 243-254
• Drawing on your findings discuss, in general, how your proposed research would lead to a significant improvement over the original studies/scholarship, and/or
how it would benefit the field of research. If applicable any policy implications your findings may have? What does your research suggest about social justice? Does it
require legal programs to be implemented? (What kind of policies or programs could be implemented as recourse from the gap/issue discovered in your research)
• For this section try and answer the following: Why should someone care? Why should someone fund this? If you wanted to publish your findings, why would they be
significant to the field?
• Include all references in a format with which you are most comfortable with, however please remain consistent with one style (e.g., MLA or APA style). You
should have at least 5 references.
Some helpful websites:
Reference: Experience Research Social Change, Methods Beyond the Mainstream.
By Sandra L Kirby, Lorraine Greaves, and Colleen Reid.
“The differential impact of the media on delinquency”
Summary of Proposed Research (maximum 1 page)
The media, as cultural products and socializing forces affect society. Youth delinquency, as crime news, has been recognized by many but rarely studied
systematically. To what extent do news media play a major role in the policing of youth? My principle objective is to determine the differential impact of the media
on delinquency: a comparison of school and street youth. The proposed project aims to contribute to the under analyzed issues of youth perceptions and delinquency, the
varying discrepancy between youth perceptions and media depictions of delinquency and the impact of the media’s focus on delinquency among youth. This study will allow
for the development of theory construction and contribute to current criminological debates as well as provide and policy recommendations. The proposed research
contributes substantially to our knowledge of the life view of Canadian youth (Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area) and illuminate the use they make of media
constructions of crime in general and the ways they process resist or incorporate media portraits of themselves as a “deviant population.
Methodologically, this study incorporates quantitative and qualitative methods in data collection procedures which include1.Detailed Interviews of school and
street youth (50 participants). Instruments include: i). Demographic factors: age, education, race, class, ethnicity, gender, urban/ suburban and, ii) Personal
factors: self esteem; peer group references; knowledge and reasoning; questions on how youth articulate their respective experiences iii) interpersonal/
interactional contexts: networks of supportive relations; types of personal experiences; family/ peer dynamics, and, iv) organizational/ institutional factors:
commitments to school, family, work, community, and peer groups.Content analyses of responses will be utilized for ascertaining the language rules and vocabularies
for encoding and decoding events and activities within a phenomenological approach. The instruments will capture how news reading and interpretation are conditioned
by time, place, and subjectivity of the reader. 2. Site visits (12) to conduct focus group sessions with youth in secondary schools and youth hostels in
Metropolitan Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA): York, Peel, and Durham Regions. Institutional support has been secured from three Metro Toronto secondary
schools high schools, two GTA secondary schools, three elementary schools and five youth serving social service agencies. 4. An ethnography of different media sites
of interest to twenty youths which involves an examination of school youth and street youth in their natural settings (including out of school surroundings or
institutional settings to gather data in informal settings eg video games and internet media).
This research moves well beyond the standard media analysis to incorporate a critical cultural analysis, that is well grounded in deviance theory. The
intersections of culture (collective behavior organized around imagery, style, and symbolic meaning) and crime (legal definitions) shape the experience and
perception of everyday life. The current debate over juvenile crime is being dominated by two voices: elected officials seizing on quick-fix solutions and the media
more intent on reporting violent crimes. Neglected are the voices of those most affected–youth. This research will tell us how crime information is perceived and
interpreted. In that sense it will fill an extant criminological void given that no study has been undertaken to investigate how youths construct their own world
views of mediated crime and criminals.
Theoretically and substantively, this study will be written as a series of journal articles in a manner that is accessible to a wide audience of scholars,
policy makers, youth providers and media researchers seeking a broader understanding of delinquency. This research will provide the background necessary for a more
progressive and comprehensive response to youth crime Throughout the period of data collection and analysis I will be disseminating the progress and results at various
learned criminological conferences in Canada and the USA and government sponsored seminars.
This proposal acknowledges with great gratitude the suggestions of last year’s three SSHRC reviewers. All of their comments have been incorporated in terms of
strengthening the theory and methods of this proposed research.
My principle objective is to determine the differential impact of the media on delinquency by comparing the perceptions of delinquency among school and street youth.
Accordingly, this research will examine: a) images youth have of juvenile delinquency; b) youth interpretations of the media coverage of delinquency; c) variations in
perceptions of the media coverage among different segments of the youth population; and, d) levels of youth resistance and/or accommodations to mediated messages of
1.1Bi Context—Relevant Scholarly Literature
The relationship between delinquency and media enjoys a rich intellectual history. Research suggests that a majority of people receive much of their impressions of the
criminal justice system through the media, especially through entertainment television viewing (Surette, 1992). According to Canadian research on public knowledge of
youth crime, the majority of respondents (60%) derive most of their information about youth crime from television news programs or newspapers (Standing Committee,
1997).This point underscores the fact that television programming is the principal means of socialization (Laywood 1985) for both children and adults (Swidler, 1986;
Roberts and Doob 1990). The findings from an analysis of newspaper reports on youth crime in Toronto reveal that the mass media, the source of most public information
about crime, do a very poor job of informing the public (Sprott, 1995). Despite criticisms of this research (Hughes 1980), there has been consistent and convincing
evidence that television viewing cultivates certain views of society, particularly those supporting the “dominant beliefs and values” of society (Altheide,1985;
Gerbner and Gross, 1976). Cultivation theory maintains that the typical viewer is isolated and atomized, thus highly susceptible to the media’s messages of violence
(Gerbner, 1972). Media crime portrayals are often inaccurate and are uniformly fragmentary, providing a distorted mirror reflection of crime within society and an
equally distorted image of the criminal justice system’s response to such behaviour (Surette, 1984:16). Sobol, (1995:1) further discovered that the motion picture
industry succeeds in presenting an incomplete and uninformed image. For instance, Schissel (1997) joins other authors (McCormick, 1995, Baron and Hartnagel 1996;
Sprott 1996) who have highlighted the role of the media in fostering pressure to get tougher with Canada’s young offenders. Accordingly, the media have engineered
“moral panics” and distorted the public’s understanding of contemporary delinquency activities, thereby reinforcing stereotypes regarding levels of violence. Research
demonstrates compellingly that this process of amplification of delinquency supports only the self-serving interests of the police and media. Not only are crime rates
driven by profit ratings, the bureaucratic and economic logic of news production, deadline and financial pressure, cause an over-reliance on readily available and
easily legitimated information from official sources (Moore, 1993:32; Ericson, Baranek, and Chan, 1991). Specifically, the media tend to cluster brief accounts of
scattered crimes to create the illusion of youth crime waves. Sociologically, panics solidify the disreputable identities of “certain” youths. All this despite,
according to official statistics and academic research, the fact that the overall youth crime rate is declining (Carrington, 1999) and non violent (Doob and. Sprott
1998). Research in the UK has also shown that this heightened attention to delinquency has in turn shaped criminal subcultures (Hall et al. 1978). For decades,
labeling approaches have documented the effects of criminalization (Visano, 1998a) in creating criminal identities. Paradoxically, criminalization not only exacerbates
social inequalities but also serves to empower those who have been routinely punished. Criminal and deviant activities perpetrated by young people have become
popularized, dramatically expanding the sites and targets accessible for young offenders. Research by Acland (1995:10) suggests that when studying the relationship
between youth and the “news”, we should be considering the “conjunction point for various discourses” such that race, gender, sexuality, class and age are at the very
core of common understandings of the “crisis of youth.” Despite this recommendation, however, there exist no data yet on young people’s knowledge and perception of
criminal justice, to my knowledge and confirmed by Peterson-Badali and Koegl (1998).
1.1Bii Context–Relation to Ongoing Research
The current proposal is an incremental conceptualization of my earlier studies on youth and culture. In Visano (1987, 1990b) I discovered that youths react to
criminalization by employing symbolic and stylistic strategies in negotiating their “criminal identities”. Moreover, the analysis of squeegie kids in Canada (Visano,
et al, 1998b) demonstrated how legal campaigns were legitimated through the media’s deployment of “emotive symbols. In (Visano, 1998a), diverse criminological theories
were assessed in an effort to develop a more compelling critical cultural approach. I have argued therein that crime is intimately related to culture within which
consciousness is embedded, defined, and implemented. Issues of crime and criminal justice are best understood when placed with the context of broader cultural
developments. My research (1990b), examined the everyday dynamics of criminal events and criminal subcultures by paying attention to career stages and contingencies,
developing further my earlier critical interactionist framework (Visano, 1988). The phenomenology of youth crime is developed (Visano, 1996) in reference to customary
meanings of morality. Here, I report on the discovery that rituals of resistance have accompanied the mythologizing of youth crime.
1.1Biii Context- Importance, Originality and Anticipated Contribution to Knowledge
The proposed study, training and writing offer several contributions. By focussing on the tensive interplay between delinquency and the media, this study seeks to
highlight conceptually the inextricable relationship between discourse and subjectivity. By challenging the dominant ideologies of crime news and by exploring the
common ground between cultural and criminal practices in contemporary Canadian social life – organized according to imagery, style, and symbolic meanings, this study
makes a significant contribution to Canadian critical criminology. Conceptually, this research is guided by the contributions of Judith Butler (1991) in examining how
values are constructed historically and relationally and also by what Dorothy Smith (1990) describes as the critique of socially organized practices of knowing to
demonstrate that difference and identity affect one’s understanding of the world. This unique blend of interpretive sociology and critical theory connects culture
and crime in terms of inscribed social inequalities. Also, within a Gramscian framework, displays of resistance define the interplay between culture and youth crime.
The exploration of subversive and counter-hegemonic elements (Gramsci, 1971:279-318) complements contemporary criminology with its emphasis on everyday culture.
Moreover, this study examines the extent to which negotiated contexts influence the interpretive logic of youth. How narratives are lived (Arrigo, 1995: 449-451)
requires a deeper appreciation for the inseparable relationship between discourse and subjectivity. Substantively, this study examines how youth and others experience
the media differently. Identity, social relations and discourses are juxtaposed against the role the media plays in the lives of young people. Theoretically, the
politics of recognition, that is, the relationship between identity and difference is the central issue confronting contemporary debates in criminological theory.
Contemporary criminology is advanced by examining the relationship youths have with the media and how the media, in turn, alters youths’ techniques of social
presentation. To what extent does the media impact on youth cultures by influencing the communicative processes and the net of social interaction thereby empowering
them to expand or restrict their sites and targets of sociality (delinquency/ conformity)? The dialectical interplay between culture and crime, the tensions and
contradictions and the possibilities of its transcendence are investigated. For example, from where do the impressions and knowledge of youth regarding the criminal
justice system derive? These are crucial questions, delineating important dimensions of the relationship between the criminal justice system and the wider society.
Beyond this is the importance this research holds for the politics of deterrence. It is believed by many in the public and policy spheres that raising the penalties
deters crime. The “get tough” approach to juvenile delinquency that dominates the current political agenda is based clearly on this assumption. It is important for
predicting the effectiveness of this policy to know whether youth even employ a calculus of costs and benefits in their decisions to engage in criminal activity, and
on the information that informs their estimate of these costs. The issue is not that sociological theory has ignored media accounts of youth crime, but that it has
ignored the extent to which the media exerts a basic influence over the social thoughts of youth.
1.1Biv Context- Theoretical Framework
Guided by Griswold (1994)’s normative conceptualization of culture as an historically transmitted pattern of symbolic meanings, this study examines how youth
communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes towards mediated delinquency. Knowledge is largely preserved within and transmitted by
cultures Culture, as a collective creation, is anchored in the social world, i.e., the economic, political, and social patterns and exigencies. Culture also
incorporates the means and processes of production of symbolism and style (Griswald, 1994:71; McNeely, 1996) that intertwine with broader social and legal relations
.Culture, as a signifying system, is a vehicle through which the “consciousness is produced” (Bennett 1982: 51) within a dialectic of mutually interactive
relationship between the subject (human agents) and the object (the conditions of their existence). Stuart Hall (1980; Hall et al. 1978) and other cultural
theorists argue that this dialectic between ‘social being’ and ‘social consciousness attests to the significance of how people make sense of media texts, that
is, the inscription of dominant ideologies (narratives), in terms of ‘preferred”, “oppositional” and “negotiated” readings. In other words, does the media text
(electronic/ print) mediate the larger delinquency narrative? Informed by the writings of Antonio Gramsci (1971), contemporary cultural theories of youth also
highlight the notion of resistance as ‘common sense’ and the ‘natural ‘. This project of critical theory equally engages the contributions of The Frankfurt School
notably the emphases on reconciling structural and subjective approaches to the study of crime, the multiplicity of interpretations of meanings and the socially
constituted individual who is defined by both intrapsychic and intersubjective relations. Habermas (1984) insisted on the social construction of individual identity
and pursued a theory of communicative action grounded in the universal presuppositions of language. To what extent is ‘the culture industry” (Adorno and Horkheimer,
1972), an “irresistible force” (Marcuse, 1972) in the social life of delinquency? Within the interpretive tradition in sociology, Weber’s (1969) “verstehen” – an
empathic and interpretive understanding of the subjective meanings which actors attach to social action is essential in contextualizing how actors take into account
the actions of others and are guided by these subjective meanings. Theoretically, therefore, critical cultural criminology with its insights from both cultural studies
and critical theory provides transformative possibilities by urging a relational view in which the component elements of social life are not individuals or
institutions but combinations of economic, political, class, gender, age and legal relations. Interestingly, Hagan and McCarthy (1998) discuss the concept of
“embeddeness”, a concept that blends well with social constructionist, critical and constitutive criminology.
1.1Ci Methodology – Research Strategies, procedures for Data Collection and Analysis
Epistemologically, the interpretive approaches directed this research project by providing a general proposal of guiding notions. Concepts such as resistance and risk
assist in sensitizing researchers to move beyond concrete forms of empirical instances. This study incorporates quantitative and qualitative methods in data collection
procedures which include: 1.Detailed Interviews of school and street youth (50 participants). Instruments include: i). Demographic factors: age, education, race,
class, ethnicity, gender, urban/ suburban and, ii) Personal factors: self esteem; peer group references; knowledge and reasoning; questions on how youth articulate
their respective experiences iii) interpersonal/ interactional contexts: networks of supportive relations; types of personal experiences; family/ peer dynamics,
and, iv) organizational/ institutional factors: commitments to school, family, work, community, and peer groups.Content analyses of responses will be utilized for
ascertaining the language rules and vocabularies for encoding and decoding events and activities within a phenomenological approach. The instruments will capture how
news reading and interpretation are conditioned by time, place, and subjectivity of the reader. 2. Site visits (12) to conduct focus group sessions with youth in
secondary schools and youth hostels in Metropolitan Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA): York, Peel, and Durham Regions. Institutional support has been secured
from three Metro Toronto secondary schools high schools, two GTA secondary schools, three elementary schools and five youth serving social service agencies. 4. An
ethnography of different media sites of interest to twenty youths which involves an examination of school youth and street youth in their natural settings
(including out of school surroundings or institutional settings to gather data in informal settings eg video games and internet media). These sources have become
highly significant in creating, coding , reinforcing and shaping youth images and culture. We will fold these sites into data collection and analysis at an early
stage. The focus on the street (a comfortable venue for street youth) retains dimensions of the “naturalistic”talk and participation. The present study will examine
age related changes in youth’s knowledge and reasoning about legal issues presumed to be important to them. Utilizing Goffman’s dramaturgical perspective, it can be
argued that the area bounded by the expectations of youths would constitute the “front region” (Goffman, 1959: 22), whereas the area outside of the view of youths
constitutes the preparatory or “back region”. Naturalistic observations in situationally relevant contexts will enable the discovery of meaning, action, identity, and
status as organized around style — that is, the shared aesthetic of the subculture’s members. This ethnography will demonstrate that the interpretation of media is
conditioned by time, place, and subjectivity of the actor. This programmatic research approach based on primary strategies of qualitative and quantitative analyses
in selected substantive areas is developed for in depth inquiry and a study of what youths actually know, or think they know about the criminal justice system. Main
themes are considered in order to obtain a general perspective on portrayals of the criminal justice system over time. The second line of inquiry involves a set of
specific questions pertaining to perceptions of the legal system and an understanding of its operation. These strategies are then combined into a third for an
interactive examination of the problem, proposing a somewhat different and compelling investigation of the relationship between law and society, with important
theoretical and empirical implications for cultural, political, and criminal justice studies in general. Qualitative data (content and discourse analyses of the main
themes and central meaning patterns will also indicate that the differential reading of the media text is governed by mood, that is, a psychic vibration between the
poles of boredom and anxiety. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches will be employed to collect data on youths impressions of reported youth crimes. Based on
Ericson, Baranek, and Chan (1991), certain criteria of newsworthiness (e.g., simplification, dramatization, personalization, continuity) that are at work will be
analyzed in terms of the basic requirements order, coherence, sequence. The following stages: revelationary stage where delinquency is presented; (2) the
interpretive stage where views of a privileged selection of “authorities” is given; and, (3) closure, where the coverage moves to recommendation, anticipated action/
reaction measures. The content analyses are useful in highlighting the diversity in responses of youth to media coverage of single events. The communication of
words and images will be studied. Contextual (histories within configurations of temporal, geographic and social conditions) and codal (language events discourse)
occur in contexts of linguistic meanings making processes which are observable and describable in instances of discourse. This interpretive study aspires to collect
stories produced by youths in order to produce a narrative mosaic which identifies through intensive interrogation a number of responses that present a picture of
their collective consciousness regarding the impact of the media on delinquency. In dealing with each phase we will follow a standard, informative format – the
theoretical specifications, observational and interview findings and testing of explanatory models. Diverse sampling strategies will be used: snow ball, purposive,
cross sectional and reputational. Participants over the age of 12 and under 18 will be selected.(corresponding with the age specific contexts of the Young Offenders
Act). Participation is voluntary.
1.1Cii Methodology-Justification of Choice
Drawing upon my fieldwork on youth from prostitutes (Visano, 1998), street transients (ibid, 1987), police informers (ibid, 1990), and drug dealing (ibid,1996) that
spans a twelve year period, the above methodology is justifiable theoretically in enhancing the validity of the study. Rather than a preconceived and programmatic
methodology, a flexible accommodation exists which is consistent with the demands of interpretive sociology. As a general methodology, qualitative sociology displays
an “omnibus quality” by incorporating an array of well-reasoned exercises. These include variations of informal communicative strategies, direct participation,
conversational or informal dialogue, and formal focused presentations. Interpretive sociology recognizes the importance of inner and outer perspectives in
constituting their “central meaning patterns” (Rock, 1979:198). This methodology follows the admonition of Hagan and McCarthy (1998), and Di Cristina (1995) who note
that criminology has focused too heavily on school surveys and self-reported criminal behaviour, neglecting the more taxing ‘street criminology’ which initially
inspired North American criminological research.
1.1D. Communication of Results
Theoretically and substantively, this study will be written in a manner that is accessible to a wide audience of scholars, policy makers, youth providers and media
researchers seeking a broader understanding of delinquency. This study will be submitted to an academic press and render the work accessible to the following readers:
academic non specialist, the educated, non academic audience, and academic specialist. I intend to submit to refereed journals aspects of the theory (Theoretical
Criminology, Journal of Crime and Popular Culture; Critical Theory), methods (Qualitative Sociology; Criminology; Canadian Journal of Criminology) and substantive
themes (Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Journal of Criminal Justice). Three journal articles are anticipated.This study will further assist in developing a well
informed appreciation of delinquency which in turn will be communicated in my regular public comments in the media and graduate/ undergraduate lectures. The research
results will be communicated to the projects participants in a public forum. The doctoral student will be encouraged to publish as well. This research will provide
the background necessary for a more progressive and comprehensive response to youth crime. Clearly, current official responses to youth crime have failed to move
beyond limited normative policing satisfied with short-term benefits of reactive models of policing. A more proactive and strategic problem-solving approach
concomitant with community development and restorative justice is warranted. The rhetoric of “getting tough” on youth ( eg. boot camps) vitiates the spirit of
community involvement and contradicts statistical evidence of the declining youth crime rates.
1.2. List of Bibliographical Notices