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Ethnographic Writing Assignment #2: Discourse, Gender and Social Space


·         You do not need to consult any other publications for this assignment, but if you do, you must cite your sources (including authors, date, specific page numbers and web addresses).

·         Please give your essay a title.

·         Be sure to write your name on your paper; it cannot be graded without it

·         As with your first paper, use of first person “I” is fine

·         Use pseudonyms rather than real names


Write a two to three (no more!) page essay (double-spaced, 12 point font, one inch margins) in response to one of the questions below.  Your essay should be cohesive from beginning to end and advance an argument.  It should go beyond description to analyze the social phenomena you present.  I’m more interested in your ideas than the facts you present, although the two must be related.


1.  Go someplace off campus (such as a hair salon, drugstore, sex shop, or bar) and analyze what that place reveals about gender norms.  Wherever you go, spend time observing (and taking notes on) what goes on there and all the cues that circulate regarding men and women, their bodies, desires, behavior, and sexuality.  Pay attention to what kind of people you see, what they are doing and how they are behaving, the use of language, architecture and décor, advertisements, music, textual evidence, and so forth.  Your analysis should be site-specific, and you should specify the particular norms that the place seems to reflect and reinforce.  Do not attempt to analyze gender norms based on your own general experiences.  Be creative in the site you chose and be careful and thorough in your observations and analysis.


Grading Rubric

Emphasizes analysis (your ideas) over description

3: Essay is driven by ideas, and they are integrated into an overarching and sustained argument

2: Essay includes ideas throughout, but they are not integrated into an overarching argument

1: Essay includes a few ideas but is mostly descriptive

0: Essay is purely descriptive


2: Strong introduction and conclusion; cohesive paragraphs; logical relationship between paragraphs

1: Paper is basically well organized, but introduction or conclusion is weak or logical flow is not always clear

0: Paper is disorganized; weak introduction and conclusion

Relationship between evidence and interpretation

1: There is strong empirical evidence supporting interpretations

0: The empirical evidence supporting interpretations is weak or missing; there may be a disjuncture between evidence and interpretations


1: The essay’s topics, descriptions, or ideas are fresh, original, or unusual

0: Essay mostly includes ideas or descriptions we read about or discussed in class or that would be immediately apparent to most observers


1: Citations, when needed, are specific and accurate

0: Citations are needed and inadequate

Error free

1: Essay has no more than three grammatical and mechanical errors

0: There are more than three errors in the essay

Addresses gender norms

2: Analysis focuses squarely on ideas about bodies, sex, and gender and the roles different groups inhabit

1: Gender norms are addressed but are not central; evidence is not strongly gendered

0: Site selection does not allow a focused analysis of gender norms; site is not strongly gendered

Analysis is site specific and based on observation

1: Analysis is tightly focused on one site; clear evidence of observation

0: Analysis is more general; little evidence of observation; claims seem mostly based on preconceived ideas

Addresses a range of factors that reflect gender norms

2: Addresses a wide range of clues about gender norms in the space

1: Addresses several factors that reflect gender norms but omits other important ways

0: Addresses a narrow range of factors, ignores major elements

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