What is a Senior Thesis?
The senior thesis in Sociology is a substantial paper written by a senior student majoring in the discipline, based on an original sociological research project undertaken by the student. The senior thesis in Sociology provides students an opportunity to study a sociological problem independently and in-depth, while engaging in a seminar where they present and peer review work. Majors are not required to write a thesis. Those choosing to write one have the necessary academic preparation for independent research (including a strong methodological and theoretical background), the motivation to devote the required time and energy, and the ability to work independently.
The Senior Thesis / Advanced Research Seminar (SOC 405) is designed to support students’ individual research projects and to provide a forum within which to peer review students’ work. It is offered every spring semester. Permission of the thesis advisor is a prerequisite for enrollment in SOC 405. Each student enrolled in SOC 405 formulates a specific research question, identifies and reviews relevant literature, collects or obtains appropriate empirical data, analyzes data, and develops theoretically meaningful conclusions from the results of the analysis. The senior thesis is written as the final product of this research process.
In consultation with the faculty, students planning to complete a senior thesis must write a thesis proposal that describes their intended research topic, complete with a preliminary literature review and bibliography. They submit the proposal to their academic advisor and the faculty member teaching SOC 405 no later than the Friday following Thanksgiving break. A student employing methodologies potentially requiring Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval needs to begin the IRB process as early as possible.
How does a Senior Thesis earn Honors?
Honors in Sociology is a distinction given by the Sociology Department to senior theses with extraordinary merit. Such theses tend to be theoretically nuanced, analytically sophisticated, well researched, and finely crafted. The Sociology Department awards Honors upon recommendation of an Honors Committee that is tasked with reviewing nominated senior theses.
An Honors Committee is convened for each nominated project. Typically an Honors Committee consists of three members, selected from among the Dickinson College faculty. One Honors Committee member is the instructor of SOC 405. Two additional members of the Honors Committee are selected by the student whose project is nominated.
During the spring semester, the instructor of SOC 405 nominates any senior thesis project that deserves consideration for Honors. Each member of the Honors Committee reviews the nominated senior thesis independently. During the final weeks of the spring semester, an oral defense is held. During this oral defense, the student who wrote the thesis makes a brief presentation of their work and answers questions from the members of the Honors Committee. The Honors Committee then meets privately (without the student present) to deliberate the merits of the thesis. The Honors Committee determines whether to recommend the thesis for the Honors distinction.
Finally, the instructor of SOC 405 communicates the recommendations of each Honors Committee to the Sociology Department faculty. The Sociology Department faculty then grants the Honors in Sociology distinction to those senior theses it deems as worthy, based upon the recommendations of the Honors Committees. A copy of each senior thesis granted Honors in Sociology is published by the Sociology Department and made available in the Dickinson College library.
Recent Senior Theses
* denotes theses that were awarded honors
Megan Campos, “Bridging the Gap? : Examining the Accumulation of Cultural Capital and Identity Formation Process of Biracial Individuals at Dickinson College”
E.J. Duff, “Only Fags and Dykes Wear Leather: Conceptualizations of Masculinity and Femininity within Queer Identity”
Colin Macfarlane, “The New Racial Wealth Chasm: Asian, Hispanic and African American Wealth Inequality in the Twenty-First Century” *
Ana Rader, “Who's got the power? Analyzing women's agency & governmental agendas through a case study of Cuba, the United States, the Ladies in White and the Federation of Cuban Women”
Caitlin Ruggeri, “Chronic Oppression: The Lived Experience Of HIV/AIDS Stigma In a Racialized Society”
Katelyn Taylor, “Facebook Confessions: A Qualitative Analysis of Social Media”
Leslie Ward. “How Does One’s Race and Class Affect Their Likelihood of Suffering from Depression or Committing Suicide? A Contemporary Durkheimian Analysis on the ‘Moral Constitution of Society’”
Chelsea Cannon, “The Skinny on Social Class as a Determining Factor in the Body Image Debate: A Qualitative Study at Dickinson College”
Airlia Choyce, “Bisexual Burdens: Individuals with Nonexclusive Attractions Creating Authentic Identities” *
Hannah Farda, “Societies at War, the Sexes at Peace” *
Sarah Hayes, “In Hope and in Resettlement: Iraqi Migration to the United States”
Bryn McNamee-Tweed, “Condemned to Act: How Understanding Sexuality And Inequality Can Enhance HIV Prevention Efforts In The United States And Uganda”
Margaret O’Brien, “Elite Colleges or Colleges for the Elite? A Qualitative Analysis of Dickinson Students’ Perceptions of Privilege” *
Ashley Kerri Peel, “Echoes of Herstory: Voices of Women of Color at Dickinson College”
Elizabeth Sick, “The New Sexual Revolution? How Women Navigate Hooking-up, Power, and Violence at Dickinson College”
Anthony Albanese, “The ‘Illegal’ and Deportable Migrant Farmworker: Analyzing the Role of Anti-immigrant Discourse in Maintaining Structures of Oppression”
Hilary E. Collins, “Negotiating Identities Within Contemporary American Society:
Women of the South Asian Indian Community of Central Pennsylvania” *
Melissa L. Moreland, “‘You Think You’re Better Than Me?’ Symbolic Violence and Upward Mobility: Working-Class Students at Dickinson College Go Back Home” *
Katie N. Mosher, “Muslim Women in the Netherlands and the United States: Virginity and Identity Formation”
Manuel Saralegui, “The Revolution Will Not Be Represented: From the Bolivarian Revolution to the Critique of Social Theory” *
Gabriela Uassouf, “Valuing their Voices: HIV/AIDS Activists in an Era of Professionalization and Public Apathy” *
Anna Valiante, “Through the Lens of Liberation: The Successes of Paulo Freire’s Liberation Pedagogy in the Fight for Social Justice”
Kristen Walker, “Interweaving Practical and Strategic Interests: Women’s Empowerment through Social Movements in Latin America”
Katherine Wood, “Violence and Evil in Modern Musical Theater: ‘Who Says That Murder’s Not an Art?’”