Fall 2021, SOCI 228-OL
Ritual Analysis Paper – 20%
Students will select a contemporary cultural event to observe social interactions as a
A contemporary cultural event might take place in-person or in a virtual setting. It
includes a gathering of people for a shared event with significant purpose to those
involved. Here are some examples of cultural events:
A fashion show A wedding or union celebration
A martial arts or aerobics class A car show
A sporting event A book launch or signing
A pet event (pet show, pet parade, etc) A holiday event or celebration
An art show A concert
A holiday event A play
A picnic or park gathering A dance class
A church event A fair or carnival
A community festival
It is often useful to attend something slightly different from your taste or habits.
Example 1: If you want to attend a wedding, your neighbor’s wedding is probably
okay. Your sister’s wedding is too personal for observations.
Example 2: If you want to attend a concert, your favorite artist or band might take
your focus off the interactions and symbols around you. If you cannot focus on
observing, the event is too close for writing a paper.
Take notes on your observations. Notice the interactions, symbols, repeated behaviors,
similarities, and differences. Opinion descriptions will not suffice (i.e. it was good);
students need to describe in a way that a reader can picture, feel, or hear the event.
These are often called thick descriptions. The suggested way to create thick
descriptions and unique observations is to use defamiliarization. Defamiliarization could
be like pretending. If you were extraterrestrial, how would you make sense of what is
happening during the event? Because we are from this world and we are a part of the
social world, defamiliarization is difficult. Use your sociological imagination to look at the
interactions, space, colors, and more with new perspectives. Some questions you might
ask yourself as you observe:
What is this a case of? Who has the power?
Who is not here? What role does [person] play?
Why that way? (ex. Why get food that
way? Why pray that way? Why walk that
What does that [object] mean? (ex.
What does that flag mean in the context
of this event? What does the color purple
This description section, with mentions of social structure and power needs to be
around 3 to 4 pages.
Fall 2021, SOCI 228-OL
As you observe, reflect upon the process of observing. How easy or difficult is it? Do you
feel conflicted, knowledgeable, silly, etc.? The way that you use space can influence
how others use space. How you feel could influence what you observe. Be upfront or
honest about these thoughts and feelings.
A Sociological Analysis
Lastly, you will write about this event as a cultural practice with a sociological lens. Use
at least two of the text resources from our course to support a larger question.
Consider the following questions as you form the sociological analysis:
• What significance does this event play in the lives of those who participate?
• What about the event (if anything) is popular cultural?
• How is this event part of the larger social structure?
• How did media shape event interactions?
Be prepared to write or talk about your ritual and sociological analysis in an upcoming
• The ritual analysis paper will be 8 to 10 pages total.
• Students can use APA or ASA formatting, references, and in-text citations. The
style must be consistent throughout.
• Use 1” margins.
• No excessively large or small font. I suggest 11 or 12 pt. font.
• You are required to let me know the direction of your paper. I may suggest you
not participate in an event (safety first) and I could be a good resource for
forming your sociological analysis.
• Each day (including weekend days) the ritual analysis paper is late students will
lose half a letter grade.