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Hello all.


I'm fairly new at this, so I'll try my best, please don't be judgemental   :)


The reason I am writing this is that I need to perform my first ever mini-research for a class I'm having. The point of the class is to give students the first experience of doing a proper paper by themselves without any help except for a clueless lecturer who just got his doctorate course completed.


I was thinking that a popular local movie, which was nominated as the national movie of the year in 2012 (called "Mushrooming"), would be an interesting subject, but I have no idea on how to approach a movie with a prewritten plot (as in it is not a documentary about real life events) sociologically. I did a brief presentation about my idea and what resonated the most from the feedback I got is that my idea is detached from society as in it is not sociological because of a lack of linkage to a certain pre-proposed theory by someone before me.


I actually have a fairly straightforward question to put forth: How can I write a short paper on an enacted screenplay and do it sociologically, tying it to a theory?

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I'm not familiar with the film, so I read a review or two online. Apart from the metaphorical value of a politician, who is accustomed to being 'handled', getting lost in the woods, where he must rely on his own originality and wit, it seems to me that the most sociological component of the narrative concerns reputation/image making, maintenance and repair. Unless your paper must offer a sociological analysis of a film, I would consider writing instead something on the sociology of reputation-making and management. Regarding that subject, you might wish to look at some of Gary A. Fine's work (http://www.sociology.northwestern.edu/people/faculty/gary-alan-fine.html). There is a lot of literature on image repair in communications journals, too, some of it more sociological, which may be of value to your endeavor.


As for the film, it's a satire, yes? So what is the message of that satire? Is it attempting to reveal the circus of political farce? What does the alteration between the protagonist's authentic 'mushrooming' self and his (assumably) disingenuous political performance convey to the audience? Is the film cautioning audiences to be politically circumspect? Is it humanizing politicians? Can film, even when a work of fiction, influence how we participate in politics, how we 'read', interact with and reproduce political dramas?


What is it you want to examine by way of this film?

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I would ground your project in your course materials and topics you've read on in sociology already.  It will (1) ensure a better grade, because (and more importantly) it will (2) force you to apply theory you've already learned.  La_Di_Da's advice is good, but you will have to do a rather elaborate dance to connect the film to professional literature, and you are likely not prepared to do that.  The paper you will write will most likely come out like an interpretive exercise in literary or cultural theory, and a fledgling one (because you're completely lost and seems like only sure you like the movie). 


Whatever tangents your mind has wandered to while you were reading sociological literature -- I would follow one of those.  Start from the literature, not from your personal interests.

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Also -- I've taken some of the UG soc surveys kids have given on campus.  They're usually awful.  If you even just did a project where you made deliberate attempts (and discuss them in your write up) to control for interview bias, i.e. finding ways to disguise what you're really testing from your subject so they can't answer strategically and let you bias their answer, make attempts to select a random sample, and so forth (these should all be being covered in your research methods course), then you can likely pull an A, and learn a lot about how hard collecting primary data is. 


Keep in mind it's a methods class, so the topic you choose isn't the focus of the lesson, it's the methods you use and how well you execute them.


Edit: right =/= wright =/= write

Edited by gilbertrollins
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