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BELMONT UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM

 

Please see the BURS site for more information.

Below are some of the more recent papers presented at BURS:

Emily Tanner-Smith
Inter-racial Violence in Blaxploitation Films

The early 1970s gave birth to a new genre of 'blaxploitation' films that were the first movies to have mainly African American editors, directors, producers, and casts. These films were made during a time of great civil unrest, and usually employed the use of violence to address racial issues. It is for this reason that I plan to compare the frequency and proportion of violence done to whites and blacks in these films.

The following films will be used in the study: Across 110th St. (1972), Black Caesar (1973), Black Mama, White Mama (1972), Bucktown (1975), Cleopatra Jones (1973), Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975), Coffy (1973), Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), Dolemite (1975), Sheba, Baby (1975), Foxy Brown (1974), Friday Foster (1975), Hell up in Harlem (1973), Mean Mother (1973), Shaft (1971), Shaft's Big Score (1972), Shaft in Africa (1973), Superfly (1972), Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971), and The Mack (1973).

I will code the acts of violence based on the motivation and type of violence, and its corresponding rate of brutality. I will then contrast the frequency and proportion of violent acts according to character race, using every possible racial combination. I will make use of existing literature on the subject, such as Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks by Donald Bogle, Framing Blackness by Ed Guerrero, That's Blaxploitation! by Darius James, Cinemas of the Black Diaspora by Michael Martin, and Representing Blackness by Valerie Smith.


Anna Margaret Edwards
Racial Spectrum of Youth Crime
This study will shed light on the nature of our popular depictions of race and crime by testing for significant racial disparities in depictions of criminal violence in popular entertainment. Twenty juvenile violence films released between the years 1990 and 1999 were observed and coded for racial violence. The hypothesis is most of the black movies contain violent acts associated with street crimes, including, robbery, drugs, etc., while most of the white films deal with sexual crimes or psycho serial killers. Giroux claims that Hollywood portrays blacks as an oppressive subculture and reinforce the perception that everyday black urban life and violent crime mutually define each other. The same popular culture encourages sympathy and provides justification for white hopelessness and desperation.


Rebecca H. Holladay 
A Theoretical Analysis and Application of Fight Club

David Fincher's film, Fight Club has provoked much debate about current society. This paper analyzes Fight Club by applying the theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, two of sociology's grand theorists. Evidence of Marx's conflict theory and the struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat are obvious themes in the film. Also prevalent are Marxist ideas of use value and exchange value leading to estranged labour, or the view of man as machine. A Durkheimian functionalist approach is applied the development of an anti-establishment organization, whereby the very nature of anti-establishment thought is defied in the sense that an organization is created, reifying Durkheim's idea that society has created structures which are necessary for the continuation of social relationships. This paper provides theoretically supported arguments that evidence that the film can be seen in terms of its much larger social commentary rather than the superficial elements directly presented to the audience.


Bradley A. Koch
The Don of the Box-Office: American Anti-immigrant Sentiment and the Popularity of Mafia Movies
The purpose of this study is to test for the hypothesized correlation between the amount of violence in Italian American Organized Crime Films (commonly known as mafia movies) and the popularity of these films as gauged by domestic box-office receipts. The proposed cause of this relationship is the ever-present anti-immigrant attitudes in the United States. Citizens harbor bias against Italian Americans (Luconi 1999) and further and reiterate this prejudice by supporting most those movies that depict the Italian Americans ethnic group in the most stereotypical manner. Further research topics are suggested.


Emily Tanner-Smith
The Health Belief Model and Predictors of Breast Self-Examination
(Alfred Crabb Writing Award WInner for the best undergraduate research paper)

This study utilized the theoretical framework of the Health Belief Model to predict breast-self examination (BSE) among university women. Namely, this research examined women's uncertainty, self-efficacy, and locus of control as predictors of BSE habits. Past research indicates that women who know other women with breast cancer will have more knowledge about the disease, and so the current study examined if such knowledge increased a participant's likelihood of practicing BSE. Fifty female undergraduate students completed a survey on their age, perceived vulnerability, level of knowledge about breast cancer, and relationships with persons who have/had breast cancer. Participants were also asked about their breast self-examination habits and reasons for not engaging in this preventive health care behavior. The data from the survey yielded interesting results concerning the relationship between women's familiarity with and exposure to breast cancer and their practice of BSE. The findings of this research will benefit the development of theories regarding coping mechanisms used to deal with uncertainty about breast cancer and other medical conditions.

The following are abstracts for BURS presentations from students taking sociology courses at Belmont University.

Capital Punishment and Public Opinion
Brandon Childs

My study examines differences in public opinion on the death penalty based on demographic differences in the population. I hypothesize that race, sex, social class, and religion effect peoples? public opinion on death penalty issues. To support that hypothesis, I plan to determine these differences by analyzing answers to questions about death penalty issues that were presented to a random sample of Americans on the General Social Survey in 1996. My hypotheses are as follows:

*Minorities are less likely to support the death penalty.
*Men are more likely to support the death penalty.
*The higher the social class, the more likely one is in favor of the death penalty.
*The more religious a person is, the less likely one is to support the death penalty.
I will also look at the ways in which combinations of the above variables may effect opinions on the death penalty.

Sex Offender Treatment Program Effectiveness
Brian Grant

I examine the effectiveness of treatment programs for sex offenders, specifically pedophiles, as measured by differences in recidivism. Research in the relevant literature seems to suggest that no treatment program currently implemented is helpful in curbing recidivism in sex offenders. Using secondary data from a long-term study of treatment of sex offenders in Texas, I analyze differences in recidivism patterns between pedophiles and other sex offenders based on their treatment programs.

Why Your Child is an Honor Roll Student
Lisa Moore

I study the correlation between economic, social and political resources and academic achievement in the Davidson County and Williamson County school districts. I will be employing a quantitative cross-sectional study using secondary data. Resources do not automatically equate to increased educational achievement, but they do provide an environment that allows academic achievement to become more accessible. I hypothesize that the higher the level of resource availability, the higher the overall academic achievement in that school district.

Integration Patterns in Housing in the United States Since 1964
Matt Day

I examine the patterns of racial integration in housing in the United States since 1964, concentrating on which cities, states or regions have had the most success with residential integration. Using quantitative research methods and U.S. Census data, I attempt to debunk the stereotype that the South has the least success with residential integration in the United States.



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