The Senior Thesis

The Senior Thesis is the culmination of a student's educational experience. It normally consists of five sections or parts: Part I: Problem Formulation and Statement; Part II: Theory, Literature Review, Hypotheses; Part III: Methods, Data, Design; Part IV: Analysis and Findings; Part V: Summary and Conclusions. It is ideally written in close consultation with a mentor who tries to steer the student's work on a course that will prove most fruitful. Students are expected to become active producers of research, rather than simply passive consumers. This requires considerable familiarity with current research, for the department's practice has been to encourage its seniors to produce original scholarly work that contributes to a distinct subfield of sociology.

Although sociology's major paradigms can easily be understood with little quantitative sophistication, current research in the discipline's major journals uses advanced mathematics tools extensively. As a result, the department has a longstanding practice of encouraging students to take graduate or post-graduate level courses at other institutions prior to the start of their senior year, in particular at Ann Arbor's ICPSR Summer Institute, to consult with scholars at other institutions, and to produce the results of their thesis at professional conferences. As is normally the case at Reed College in the Division of Social Sciences and History, students are also expected to produce drafts of their thesis chapters at regular intervals, and in particular, they are expected to submit copies of a completed draft at the midpoint of their second semester. As is customary, the thesis concludes with a two-hour oral defense at which the advisor, two members of the Division of Social Sciences and History, and one external examiner, or "fourth" reader, test the student's ability to explain his or her results.

Recent Theses

May 2013

Katharine Chen, "The Commercialization of the Unmanaged Heart"

Daniel Ku, "Disrupting the Network: the Structure of Hacktivism"

Mary Lindeblad-Fry, "Rez-onomics: A Cross Comparative Analysis of Tribal Economic Performance"

Laura Muco, "African Immigration and Assimilation in Portland, Oregon"

Melissa Osborne, "Smoking With Felons: Building Community and Eroding Barriers in the Isolated Liminal Space of Reentry"

Jessa Ramsey, "The Real 'Housewives' of Moscow: Exploring the Wealth, Status and Personal Narratives of Russia's Female Elite"

Talia Tiffany, "Vital Social Ecology: Investigating the State and Forms of Contemporary Intentional Communities"

Brittany Wideman, "The Contemporary Culture of Right Wing Extremism: A Content Analysis on Framing in Mass Media of the Internet Age"

May 2012

Rachel Cole-Jansen, "A study of commercially sexually exploited children in Portland, Oregon"

Ryanne Kikue Fujita-Conrads, "Accepting the foreign : perceived threat, foreigner exclusionism, and social distance from immigrants in the United States and Spain"

Gregory Lawrence, "Digital communication technologies and identity practices in the Occupy Wall Street movement"

Erica Lee, "Transient identities: multiracial identity in a new century"

Nora McConnell-Johnson, "Self enhancement, incorporated: teaching cultural capital to close the achievement gap"

Emmi Obara, "Competing hopes and fears: immigrant parent influence on adolescent ethnic and racial identification"

Adrien Schless-Meier, "Open and accessible to all?: organizational color-blindness in the Portland farmers market"

Katileyn Schwartz Kaufman, "Political effects on prison siting during mass incarceration in California: a qualitative and quantitative analysis"

Patrick Taylor, "Urban development and neighborhood change: local place-making efforts in Portland's Northeast neighborhoods"

May 2011

Jennifer Bautista, "Experiences in vocational education: perpetuating inequalities and the effects on future aspirations"

Kristina Marie Fullerton, "Pre-teen girls of color and beauty ideals in the age of multicultural lipstick commercials"

Ethan Knudson, "Straddling social oceans: immigrant social networks as pathways for transnational entrepreneurship"

Madeline McAdams, "Framing an Inconvenient Truth: a content analysis of television news coverage on Al Gore's climate change activism"

Jamie Perkins, "Recognition of veteran illness in the post-Vietnam era"

Piper Smith, "Mass incarceration and the creation of prisoners as a captive market"

Winnifred Poore Schmidt, "Britpop: the rise and decline of a national product in the British music industry 1991-1997"

Lindsay Simon, "Changes in the marriage institution: effects of parental divorce on offspring gender behavior"

Matt Steele, "The construction of LGBT Mormon identities"

Rebecca Elise Stuewe, "Dominating the gatekeeper: sexual scripts as mechanisms for organizing social behavior"

May 2010

Matthew Burke, "Why securitization?: US and Canadian housing finance systems in historical and comparative perspective"

Jack Byerly, "The Centralia mine fire: Government decision-making, community divisions, and media portrayals"

Michelle Carroll, "Persistence, parental cultivation of capital, and
racial inequality in elite higher education"

Anne Celovsky, How'd he do it? An examination of U.S. health care politics during the Clinton and Obama administrations"

Glenn Harrison, "But I, Somehow, Someway / Keep Coming Up With Funky-Ass Shit Like Every Single Day!" Artists' collaboration networks and success in the case of popular music, 1992-2007"

Peter Jantzen, "Altruistic lawyers? surely not! : structural
embeddedness and civil litigators in Portland Oregon"

Cyd La Luz, "The Sam Adams sex scandal : an analysis of newspaper coverage"

Alyson Sneider,  "Free Spaces and Collective Identity: An Examination of the Transgender Rights Movement"

Kelsey Zorn, "You plus me equals us: The effect of a changing political landscape on the individual calculus of protest participation in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine"

May 2009

Ryan Cook, “Taking on Goliath: The Emergence of the Wind Energy Industry”

Rachel Cooper, “The Struggle Between Rehabilitation and Punishment: Access to Psychiatric Treatment in State Prison Systems”

Molly Gingras, “Journalists' Conceptions of Journalistic Objectivity: Strategy, Credibility, and the Construction of a Paradigm”

Charli Krause, “Live Free or Drive: Bike Activism and Civic Engagement in Portland, Oregon”

Zoe Vrabel, “The ‘We’ in ‘Yes, we can’: Activist Identity Creation in Obama Volunteers”

December 2008

Adrian Chen, “Death Talk: Media Discourse and the Right to Die Movement, 1990-1995”

May 2008

Maricela Dorado, “Retreating States Confront Newly Activated Publics: Transnational Feminism and State Responses to Violence against Women in Postcommunist Europe”

Samuel Gast, “Embedding Innovation in Shifting Norms of Commercial Collaboration: A Social Network Analysis of the Boston Biotechnology Cluster, 1980-2000”

Annalee Schafranek, “Constructing Feminism and Framing a Movement: A Newspaper Content Analysis”

December 2007

Naomi Kaplowitz, “State Determinants of Prison Privatization”

Hillary Theobald, “A Quantitative Analysis of the Effects of Social Disorganization and Social Diffusion on Youth Gang Proliferation”

Spring 2007

Robin Blanc, “Public School Choice: Institutional Change and Educational Organization in Historical Perspective”

Aya Burgess, “(Philanthropy)™ : The Elite Influence on Giving”

Ana Cikara,: “”A Few Good Men’: The Effect of Sex Ratios on Women's Gender Roles”

Anna Neimeyer, “Intentional Community: Changes in Form, Function, and Commitment in Communal Living”

Sarah Lake, “Bringing Home the Bacon: The Institutionalization and Rise of Local Foods”

Benjamin Rowland, “Out of Sight and Off the Streets: Risk and Enforcement in the Sex Industry”

Emma Stocker, “Recovery in the Parishes of Southeast Louisiana: State Capacity and Community Resources in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina”

December 2006

Gerald Johnson, “Why Firms Decide to Offer Health Insurance to their Employees”

May 2006

Alex Bradspies, “An Exploration of Individual and Contextual Factors Affecting the Racial Wealth Gap”

Jamaica Brown, “’Remember to eat and sleep’: Online Games, Offline Lives”

Rebecca Fureigh, “The Backlash against Political Correctness”

Adam Goldstein, “The Community Context of Form Conversion”

Lauren Lanahan, “Overcoming Racial Inequalities: Recent Integrating Trends in the United States”

Clio Sady, “Trash Talking in Queer Activism”

Todd Schifeling, “Inside The Environmental Planetarium: How Green Ideas Move”

Jennifer Seminatore, “From Negotiation to Critique: The Changing Character of U.S. Labor and Environmental Movements Confronting Issues of International Trade”

Taylor Sutton, “Trusting the Human Genome Process”

May 2005

Thuan Duong, “Lost In Translation: Identity And Incorporation In The Vietnamese Second-Generation”

Colette Gordon, “Mobilizing Beyond Crisis: Police Accountability Organizing in Portland, Oregon”

Abigail Kahn, “Negotiating Sex in the Classroom: A Study of Sexuality Education in Oregon Public Schools”

Dorothy Walker, “Electrifying! An Analysis of Consumer Cooperatives In America”

May 2004

Eliot Levin, “Beyond the Iron Law: Structure and Behavior in Public Sector Labor Organization”

Mary Murphy, “The Mediating Role of Neighborhood Context in Predicting Rates of Female Headship: Assessing the Relative Impact of TANF Welfare Policies“

Althea Swett, “Family Roles, Resources, and the Gender Gap in Depression”

Sean Thomson, “Who Protests? A Quantitative Analysis of Protest Participation using the ‘American Civic Participation Survey’"

May 2003

Rachel Crocker, “Understanding The Effects Of Welfare State Devolution: The Implications Of Ethnic Competition And Welfare Magnet Theory”

Daniel Etra, “(R)evolution of the Wind Electricity Industry: A Study of Technological, Organizational and Institutional Change, 1980-2003”

Jennifer Flashman, “How Schools Structure Inequality: The Effects of High School Tracking On Status Attainment”

Keith Malik, “West Meets East: U.S. Involvement in the Ukrainian Women’s Rights Movement”

Lynn Pazzani, “The Social Construction of Rape: Individual and Contextual Effects”

Sarah Ross, “Informal Diversion: A Dilemma in Juvenile Justice”

Lindsey Selden, “Patterns of Mexican American Collective Action, Organizational Mobilization, and Identification”

May 2002

Chris Cone, “The Blame Game: Racial Attitude Formation Regarding Poverty

Robert Kelley, “Corporate Interests In The Corporate Newspaper”

Laura Mangels, “A Quantitative Approach To Gangs: Social Disorganization And Ethnic Competition”

Julia Sandler, “On Modernity And Madness: Endorsing The Medical Professions”

December 2002

Marissa King, “Cooptation or Cooperation? The Role of Transnational Activists in the Zapatista Movement

May 2001

Derek Darves-Bornoz, “Class, Corporations and the Intercorporate Network: Fortune 500 Firms in the US Trade Policy Formation Process”

Lucas Dauter, “Testing Theories of Ethnic Sentiment: The Case of Yugoslavia"

Lauren Golden, “Coalition Building Around Land Use and Affordable Housing: A Case Study of Portland, Oregon from 1995 to 2000”

Scott Jones, “Alternative Work, Partial Returns”

May 2000

Junette McWilliams, “Social Organization And Deviant Behavior: An Analysis Of Suburban Adolescent Drug Use”

Jeff Jassmond, “Growing Meaning: The Organic Foods Movement and Processes of Framing”

Clayton Szcech, “Beyond Autonomy or Dominance: The Political Sociology of Prison Expansion”