Sociological Research Practicum
SRP Study Director
The Sociological Research Practicum (SRP) provides first-year graduate students in Sociology with the opportunity to participate in a large-scale, ongoing, faculty-directed research project. Through their work on the project, students learn how to formulate researchable questions, design appropriate methodological strategies, and collect and analyze data. Many students use data from
The SRP is also designed to assist the research efforts of faculty members in the Department of Sociology. It provides the following resources: office space, staff personnel, graduate assistant, a modest budget for supplies and equipment ($9,000), adjustments to teaching loads, as well as the participation of the first-year graduate students. These resources, as evidence of local institutional commitment to the project, often help faculty members secure complementary research funding from external sources.
The SRP began in 1965 as the Indianapolis Area
Project (IAP), originally modeled after the University of Michigan’s
Detroit Area Study. In 1984, the IAP was renamed the Sociological
Research Practicum to reflect two changes that had already occurred:
research projects were no longer confined to the Indianapolis area, and
investigators had used methodologies other than the classic household
sample survey. Since that time, SRPs have pursued quantitative and
qualitative investigations, historical and contemporary, comparative and
domestic, on a wide range of sociological topics.
CURRENT SRP PROJECT
2011-2012: Social Status, Consumption, and Happiness
PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Arthur S. Alderson
Issues/Questions Addressed: The purpose of this study is to investigate the link between status, consumption, and life satisfaction. A nationally-representative survey of U.S. residents will be fielded to extend sociological research on styles of cultural consumption to consideration of consumption more generally. The research will examine how processes of social comparison and reference groups might vary by social location across a range of visible, positional goods and how styles of consumption and reference groups affect life satisfaction. Information on respondents’ cultural consumption and on a range of socio-demographic characteristics will also be collected.
RECENT SRP PROJECTS
2010-11: Social Support from 'Similar Others': The Motivations, Identities, and Well-being of Mended Hearts Visitors.
PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Peggy Thoits.
This SRP was a two-phase project, employing a structured questionnaire in the first phase and qualitative telephone interviews in the second phase. The purposes of the project were two-fold: In phase one, the purpose was to assess the physical and mental health correlates of holding a volunteer identity and engaging in volunteer work, specifically, the work of giving peer support to cardiac patients and their families while the patient is in the hospital. In phase two, the purpose was to explore respondents' observations of how support from "similar others" (who have been through cardiac procedures before) differs from support from significant others (family and friends) as well as the degree to which respondents' individual and collective identities as Mended Hearts visitors motivate their continued involvement in this volunteer role.
In phase one, a random sample of Mended Hearts chapters with active visiting programs was drawn; a handful of award-winning chapters were also included at the request of the Mended Hearts, Inc. National office. (Because there is no listing of Mended Hearts volunteer visitors, visitors had to be reached through their chapters.) Visiting Chairs of each sampled chapter were asked to distribute questionnaires to their patient and caregiver visitors at a regular meeting; Visiting Chairs who stayed in touch with their visitors by email were instead asked to forward an invitation to their visitors to participate in an online survey (identical to the paper questionnaire). The sample consisted of 77 chapters (2 were pretest chapters) with an average of 12 visitors per chapter, for an initial sample size of 921. The response rate was about 50% for an N of about 460 (the exact response rate and N are unavailable as of July 6, 2011, because surveys continue to trickle in). For phase two, the surveys invited respondents to participate in a follow-up telephone interview about their visiting experiences. About 50% of survey respondents volunteered to be interviewed. As of July 6, 2011, about 220 qualitative telephone interviews were completed, transcribed, validated, and de-identified, to protect respondents' identities. Interviewing will continue through July and end August 1, 2011.
The structured survey includes measures of volunteer visitor identity salience, collective identification with Mended Hearts, degrees of involvement in visiting activities, as well as a number of well-being outcomes: mattering, purpose in life, self-esteem, sense of control/mastery, anxiety, depression, physical health, happiness, and life satisfaction. In the interviews, types of support offered by Mended Hearts visitors are contrasted with family and friend support, the degree to which the effectiveness of support-giving depends on a match between the visitor and the patient is discussed, and respondents' motivations for visiting are explored, including the degree to which they identify themselves as volunteer visitors.
2009-2010: Constructing the Family III
PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Brian Powell
N and Sampling procedures: 831 cases (208 Indiana RDD, 383 National RDD, 240 National cell).
Issues/Questions Addressed: The purpose of the survey was to gauge public opinion regarding how the family is conceptualized. Many of the same questions were asked as had been asked in SRP2003 and 2006 but some were dropped and several new questions were also added. Data were collected on a range of topics including: definitions of family, rights and benefits of family, when and whether a family can stop being a family, post-secondary education, the relative importance of genetic, parental, and other factors in the development of traits, feminist self-identification, attitudes about gay and lesbian relationships, as well as such sociodemographic characteristics as education, age, gender, race, religion, and marital status.
SRP2010 Codebook (Microsoft Word document)
Available to Public: October 2015
2008-2009: Policy Preferences in the United States III
PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Clem Brooks
N and Sampling procedures: A telephone survey of 1559 United States residents, 217 of which had been previously interviewed in 2007, and 1342 of which were randomly selected new respondents.
Issues/Questions Addressed: The purpose of the survey was a second wave to gauge public opinion regarding government policies, specifically aimed at measuring the public's feelings toward what changes should or should not be made. Some of the topics included were the war on terrorism, health care, taxes, and welfare. Demographic information such as age, gender, race, religion, marital status, and occupation was also collected.
SRP2009.sav (SPSS dataset)
SRP2009 Codebook (Microsoft Word document)
Available to the public: 2014.
2007-2008: Perceptions of Immigrants in the United States.
PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Patricia McManus
N and Sampling procedures: A telephone survey of 438 randomly selected United States residents from six metropolitan areas (New York, Miami, Newark, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles) who were born U.S. citizens.
Issues/Questions Addressed: The purpose of the survey was to gauge public opinion regarding issues of immigration. The study was specifically aimed at measuring the public’s feelings toward immigration policies, current legal and illegal or documented and undocumented immigrants living in the United States, and whether changes should or should not be made to existing laws.
Demographic information such as age, gender, race, religion, marital status, and occupation was also collected.
Number of variables: 124
SRP2008.sav (SPSS dataset)
SRP2008 Codebook (Microsoft Word document)
Available to the public: 2113.
2006-2007: Policy Preferences in the United States II
PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Clem Brooks
N and Sampling procedures: A telephone survey of 2001 United States residents, 182 of which had been previously interviewed in 2005, and 1019 of which were randomly selected.
Issues/Questions Addressed: The purpose of the survey was a second wave to gauge public opinion regarding government policies, specifically aimed at measuring the public’s feelings toward what changes should or should not be made. Some of the topics included were taxes, social security, welfare, the war on terrorism, health care, education, and strengthening the family. Demographic information such as age, gender, race, religion, marital status, and occupation was also collected.
SRP2007 Codebook (Microsoft Word document)
Available to the public: 2112.
A complete list of past SRP projects can be found here.