Sociology is the study of human social behavior and groups. While psychology provides people with insights into individual behavior, drives, and motivations, this course will examine how people relate to their fellow humans in social settings. This course will help you understand what influences behavior in the workplace as you work with organizations, teams, and large and small groups.

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To begin, you will look at a social phenomenon quite common in today’s world, coulrophobia, or quite simply, the “abnormal fear of clowns.” This is one of the most common fears in the younger generations. One conjecture is that the images of clowns as slashers, monsters, and maniacs in the media (such as Stephen King’s work) have reshaped society’s conception of clowns. Baby boomers, on the other hand, grew up with many positive, even gentle, and certainly safe, images like Bozo the Clown and the mime, Marcel Marceau. There is no one right answer, but it is an interesting example of a sociological question.

Primary Task Response: Within the Discussion Board area, write 400–600 words that respond to the following questions with your thoughts, ideas, and comments. This will be the foundation for future discussions by your classmates. Be substantive and clear, and use examples to reinforce your ideas.

  1. Interview and report on 4 people: 2 who are under 40 and 2 who are over 40. Simply ask them: What do you think of clowns? Listen to their answers.
  2. Then, write 2 paragraphs on what you discovered, 1 describing the answers of the under-40 people and 1 describing that of the over-40 respondents.
    • Include anything really interesting that you discovered in talking to them about clowns, and include at least 1 outside reference on clowns (documented in an APA style) from the Internet or other sources.
      • You may want to search “clown phobia” and read about it, or take a look at some of the clips on this topic (also known as coulrophobia) on video Web sites.
    • Comment briefly on what it was like to engage in sociological research (even at a rudimentary level).
  3. Write your own take on clowns and the social phenomenon of clown phobia. Write 200 hundred words or approximately 2 paragraphs. Consider:
    • What causes this to happen in a culture?
    • What is the role of the media in shaping a collective image or meaning about something in the public eye?

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