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Applied Social Science as Tools for Change
Students using post-it notes on the wall to code qualitatitive data
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food system
content analysis
research methods

How to Cite

Smolski, Andrew R., Rebecca Shisler, Abbey E. Piner, Angel Cruz, and Emma Brinkmeyer. 2023. “Applied Social Science As Tools for Change”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, November. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Sociology provides important empirical tools for evaluating organizational progress
toward racial equity. In food system work meant to address racial inequality, there is
often an assumption that intent to not be racist translates into equitable consequences.
Yet, there is a distinction between intent and outcome; therefore, one must...

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Subject Area(s):
Community, Organizations, Formal and Complex, Qualitative Methodology, Race, Class and Gender, Racial and Ethnic Relations, Research Methods, Sociological Practice
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
College 100, College 200, College 300, College 400
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

This activity uses a content analysis activity to help students practice qualitative coding and foster an understanding of how NGOs, particularly those in the food system, can reproduce inequality or support social change. Students will learn about three frames to assess organizational programs. These frames fall on a continuum between charity and...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Be able to define the following terms: content analysis, qualitative data, code, and codebook.
  2. Foster an understanding of how NGOs, particularly food system organization projects operate on a continuum of charity and innovation/justice.
  3. Practice skills in content analysis, qualitative coding, and data interpretation.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Participants will match key terms and definitions to reinforce understanding of those terms.
  2. Participants will work in small groups to code their group’s assigned sample proposal, using a pre-established codebook. Based on the results of the group’s coding, participants will develop a set of themes related to the framework of charity, transition, or innovation/justice.
  3. Participants will write responses to reflection questions and will identify which framework (charity, transition, or innovation/justice) their assigned proposal corresponds to. Participant groups will then present key parts of their coding to the rest of the class.

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