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SOC 417: Family Violence (Spring 2021) (Professor Shellhammer)

SOC 417 Final Paper

Project Goal

To understand how social processes/institutions shape family violence and service provider responses to violence in our society (both prevention and intervention). This project requires that you:

  1. Collect data and conduct an analysis that reflects on how social circumstances impact violence and shape behaviors of both victims and perpetrators
  2.  Reflect on how the perceptions of abuse, violence, and related behaviors impact service delivery and how prevention and/or interventions are shaped by social and institutional factors
  3. Examine your own assumptions about family violence, abusive behaviors, and effective service delivery.

As always, please refer to Professor Shellhammer's full assignment guidelines in Cougar Course. 

SOC 417 Final Paper Format

  1. Select a local Service Provider (program, agency, nonprofit, etc.) that works in some aspect of abuse or violence (promotion or intervention). The program or agency may work with populations such as children, teens, foster youth, adults, the elderly, perpetrators or victims of abuse, etc. The program may be provided in different locations such as a school setting, public health facility, community, shelter, city, state, or federal, on a military base, etc. 
  2. If possible, drive by the site where the program you are researching takes place during Week 6 of this semester. The purpose of the site visit drive by is to examine the location and physical condition of buildings, sidewalks, streets, landscaping, etc. where the agency services are provided. The area and neighborhood sends a message to the clients being served. It is likely that the building may be closed to the public during this COVID-19 pandemic. That is to be expected. You may find it helpful to take notes during your observation. If you are unable to drive by the site location you will not be penalized, however, this data will provide support for your analysis in the Final Paper.
  3.  (Optional) This project may also include a live, phone or remote (ie: zoom) interview with a service provider who is involved in the program or service delivery of the program. However, due to the current COVID-19 health precautions, in-home sheltering and the uncertainty regarding access to key personnel, the interview may be impossible. Although securing an interview with a service provider may enhance the final paper analysis, at this time an interview component to this project is encouraged but considered optional only and will not impact a student’s final grade. In compliance with CSUSM regulations this semester, interviews are allowed for this project but must be in compliance with health care precautions. Due to the current COVID-19 situation and the uncertainty regarding access to key personel, the interviews may be impossible. So, this phone or zoom interview component is also considered optional only.

In your interview, find out the following:

  1. The person’s education and credentials.
  2. The objectives of the agency and populations served by the agency.
  3. Specifically what this service provider does at his or her job and the demographics of the population he/she works (may include challenges, examples of highlights, etc.).
  4. This person's perspectives on the social issues/problems this agency or program addresses.
  5. How are services being delivered differently now since close-downs subsequent to COVID-19 and public health restrictions?
  6. What are his/her personal challenges and/or highlights (can give specific examples)?
  7. What are this person’s suggestions for service delivery improvement at this site?

The questions above are intended only to provide a general framework for the interview and you must also incorporate your own questions that are designed to get at data that will best round out the information you need from your particular site to do a meaningful and sociological analysis for this assignment. Include questions you’ve designed that will lead to your provider’s views on themes covered in class to date, ie: social problems this site deals with, the impact of poverty on the client population, relationship building with clients, etc. These will be unique to your particular site! Before proceeding with the interview, think carefully about how to capture or collect the data (recorder, pen notes, etc.). Combine this interview data with your personal observations of the site to better understand service provider perspectives. This interview data will help inform your own understanding of the service provider perspective.


Your task is to locate a service provider/program that provides family abuse prevention or intervention services to victims, potential victims, or perpetrators (child, intimate relationship, or elder) at an agency or organization. This location might be a public-supported community clinic, a family support center, a school, an elder care facility, a nursing home, a shelter for abused victims (including animals), homeless shelter, or a court-mandated program. Local sites such as North County Lifeline, Vista Community Clinic, Women’s Resource Center, Casa de Amparo, Health and Human Services (Aging and Independent Services) are potentials along with many others. Private practices (therapists, counselors, etc.) dealing in trauma or violence/abuse intervention may also be appropriate for this project. You are strongly encouraged to move outside your comfort zone and explore something new and different! This makes for a much more interesting analysis of the experience. The program can be working in any aspect of violence prevention or intervention such as health care delivery, education, treatment, or crisis intervention. The information and knowledge you will gain from this project provide an opportunity to advance your academic major and future career aspirations. Ask yourself if there is a particular population you want to know more about, ie: foster youth, elderly, victims of intimate relationship violence, drug abusers, parolees, teens, LGBTQ population or any other populations that may be at risk of abuse. 

Finding a program may take time. The goals of this project are to: 1) gain understanding and awareness of local resources and social factors that family violence, services, and options available for both victims and/or perpetrators 2) reflect on the service delivery process from both the service provider and client perspectives 3) integrate course material, theory, and in-class discussion and a review of literature connected with the social dilemma being addressed by the program. Due to the timing of this project and the unpredictability of what may unfold in the near future due to the spread of coronavirus, this is a research project that may be done entirely at home without any direct public interaction, using online and library resources.

Final Paper

Conduct a Scholarly Literature Review:

Drawing on the topic theme/ social issue being addressed by your service provider’s program or agency find at least 3 sociological, scholarly, peer-reviewed sociological journal articles related to the topic that help inform your analysis. (Note: you may not use book chapters or popular media.) One article (for instance) should address the social problem (s) your agency focuses on. You must be able to relate the articles to your program. What is an academic research article? It will begin with an abstract summarizing the article and will have most of the following sections: introduction and literature review, methods, results section, discussion and references.

  1. Introduce the agency or program you selected and its goals (usually can be found on the agency’s website or stated mission statement).
  2.  Relate the lit reviewed articles to your site. For example, if the program is at an after school program, search for articles that address the benefits, challenges, etc. of such programs. You may also consider finding articles that focus on the importance of mentoring relationships within such programs.
  3. Describe, in general, what types of journal articles you found. This will require that you scan a number of abstracts and select the most relevant. Was most of the research “numbers-based” or quantitative? If you found other types of research, such as ethnographic, participant observation etc., did the articles take a particular stance on the subject?
  4. Briefly summarize the articles you chose and explain their relevancy to your program. What style of research is used? Were there research findings that surprised you?
  5. What are the basic, underlying assumptions about the social problems being addressed by your agency? What public policies are in place to address these problems? What is lacking?
  6. Describe your findings along with an analysis of how successful the program seems to be. How is “success” measured? How does your data relate to the information covered in Soc 417: Family Violence? (Note: including your outside literature review of research related to your topic is necessary in addition to course material, as appropriate to your program). Describe your provider’s views on family violence and prevention or intervention services. Include your own assessment and analysis of the agency’s ability to meet the needs of the population being served, using rationale based on course content (readings, videos, guest presentations, class lectures, and forum discussion).
  7. What recommendations for changes do you suggest to improve service delivery at this site? Make sure to include course or research material (as appropriate) to support your recommendations for change. These recommendations are based on your critical analysis of the data you’ve collected for this project. The Supplemental Reading during Week 7, “What Works and Why We Have So Little Of It” Chapter 1 (Lisbeth Schorr) provides an excellent resource and critical perspective of service delivery. Additional course material or literature reviewed material should be included to support your recommendations for improvement.
  8. Conclusion. Any final thoughts, surprises, highlights, or challenges you faced in conducting this project?

Bibliography: create a work-cited reference list. Your citations should be in proper ASA or APA style.

For full assignment guidelines, please consult Cougar Course.