Exploring Society By The Numbers

Principles of Sociology

Theresa Ciabattari, Wake Forest University


We have spent the last few weeks discussing race, class, and gender inequalities and how sociologists conceptualize these inequalities on the structural, rather than the individual, level. In this second research report, you will have the opportunity to apply this structural perspective. You will use U.S. Census data from 1950 to 1990 to analyze shifts in occupational structures in your home state and how these shifts vary by race, sex, or education. This analysis is macro (state) level, so keep this in mind as you are thinking about and writing about your research.

Learning Goals

  • To understand the logic of control variables in bivariate tables
  • Learning about survey methodology and sampling methods
  • Using software to access and analyze census data
  • Identifying independent and dependent variables
  • Quantitative writing
  • To recognize the existence of social structure by observing economic shifts and how they vary by social group
  • To understand how sociologists use empirical data, such as the U.S. Census, to generate knowledge

Context for Use

This activity is used in Principles of Sociology class for undergraduate students. This activity looks at the labor force and factors that affect occupation over time in the United States on a state-by-state basis.

Description and Teaching Materials

Exercises: PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 95kB Mar24 09)
Exercises: DOC (Microsoft Word 40kB Mar24 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses a customized data set made from combining census information from 1950-1990. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!


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References and Resources

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