Society and Crime

For this assignment, I would like to see you conduct an ethnographic analysis of an online community that features a lot of discussions related to crime. I recommend that you choose a Reddit (or subreddit) group like r/crime, r/RedditCrimeCommunity, r/CrimelnChicago, r/swindled, or r/CrimelnNYC or a Facebook group like New Brunswick Crime Watch & Public Safety, STAND UP: United Against Racism, Gun Violence, Inequality: Stronger Together, or National Association for Gun Rights. If you have an idea about a different kind of group you would like to study, please check it with me as soon as possible.

When entering your online community of study, remember to check your assumptions at the door. Try to remain as objective as possible. Obviously, you want to observe what is being said, but you also want to try and understand the unspoken “common sense” assumptions and rules of the group that you are studying. Don’t use a group that only features one type of post. For instance, don’t use Suffolk County Crime Stoppers or other similar groups that only feature posts about individuals that are wanted for crimes. Also, be sure to choose a fairly active community.

You should study the group for at least 90 minutes total over the course of one week. Specifically, you should analyze at least 100 posts (and the comments on those posts). Be sure to focus on the issues related to crime. For ethical reasons, I strongly encourage you to choose a group where you can be reasonably sure that you won’t encounter close friends, family members, co-workers, etc.

In your paper, you should do the following:

  1. Explain what you plan to do. Which online community are you planning to study? Also, briefly explain why you chose this group. (Approximately 1/3 page)
  2. Discuss your findings. What kind of posts predominated? For instance, what sort of crimes were primarily discussed? And what seemed to be the consensus about 1) why people committed the crimes, 2) what kind of punishment should the criminal get, 3) attitudes about the criminal justice system, etc? What sort of things did there seem to be nearly universal agreement about?

What did people argue about? Similarly, what subjects were never discussed? If people mostly posted pictures and memes, you should note that and discuss the kinds of pictures and memes that predominated. Were there any kinds of class/gender/racial/religious/etc. tensions within the group?

What did you learn about the online community and the individuals in the online community that you studied? (Approximately 1 2/3 pages)

  1. What week did you analyze the group? What was going on in society when you did your observation? How do you think these larger societal developments influenced, if at al, the community that you studied? (Approx. 1/2 page)
  2. What surprised (or did not surprise) you about your findings? Were there any difficulties you faced while doing the study? Do you think you would get the same findings if you repeated your study with a similar online group? How do your findings compare to those discussed in your literature review? Explain. (Approx. 1/2 page)

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