I. Introduction (2 pages)
Covers thesis statement, key arguments, mentions your empirical data
II. Literature review (4-5 pages)
Probably divides relevant literature into 2-3 categories (by theory, argument, angle), reviews what the key arguments are, highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each work (or group of works), and emphasizes 1-2 key remaining questions, to be explored in the remainder of the paper. Your literature review should reflect an overarching argument—not just an academic equivalent of a “he said, she said” synopsis.
III. Background (2 pages)
Goes over where your data comes from—the geographical and historical setting of your case study/studies (if your work is qualitative), or the dataset you’re using (if your work is quantitative)
IV. Methods (1-2 pages)
Reports how you collected and analyzed the data. If you don’t collect original data, you can probably skip this, unless you used a specific method, i.e., discourse analysis.
V. Results and analysis— together if your work is qualitative, separate if your work is quantitative (10-12 pages)
Divide your results and analysis into 2-3 key themes or categories, and write roughly 3 pages for each big theme/ category/ case study.
VI. Conclusion (2-3 pages)
1. Focus on one or two grassroots governmental institutions, social movements, or organizations. Are they really grassroots? What are their arguments and strategies? How have their arguments played out, in terms of popular debate about the policy issue/goal? Do you think the movements/ organizations’ real stories are different from their popular image?
If so, what explains the difference?
• Examples: two community boards in the city, “anti-globalization” folks, Zapatistas, landless people’s movements in Brazil and South Africa, squatters’ or tenant movements in New York and Amsterdam, community gardens movement, “untouchables” in India, mothers of the “disappeared” in Chile and Argentina, community-based health clinics in different neighborhoods, Young Lords and Black Panther Party, Act Up vs. Human Rights Campaign, sex workers’ unions, newer participatory planning by the World Bank, etc.
2. Compare how two countries/ states/ cities approaches a specific policy issue with the way it’s done in another location, from a governance perspective. What assumptions underlie the different institutions, policies, or strategies? What are the policy implications?
• Examples: environmental degradation, gentrification/ redevelopment, education, health, prison, economic trade policies, dam-building, village/ city planning, drug wars, AIDS, etc.
3. Analyze the political or grassroots “power” of a specific neighborhood or subpopulation (by race, gender, etc.). What is the political context for this constituency? Does this constituency have unique advantages or disadvantages? How do they frame 1-2 key policy issues? Are they successful? What are the different potential policy responses?
• Examples: the Haitian-American immigrant community in New York City, the portrayals and actual political behaviors of millennials, Tibetan exiles and “celebrity” allies in the “Free Tibet” campaign, the changing role of Harlem’s political power in city governance, former child soldiers in both civil conflict and peace negotiations in northern Uganda, organized crime in services provision in Japan, etc.
4. Analyze a single, specific policy or political episode, and disentangle what happened, and why, from a grassroots perspective. Who were the key actors? What were the different perspectives? Were there different policy proposals? What were implications of different proposals? Did one side win? How, and why?
• Examples: Hurricane Katrina, 1990s South Africa & AIDS, mayoral control of schools in New York City, Atlantic Yards, Willets Point, Coney Island, 1990s Harlem gentrification, recent Davos and WTO meetings
Research topic and key terms of investigation:
• Your topic needs to be more than one word! If you can, try to articulate a phrase that captures both X, the subject of your study (a subpopulation, a neighborhood, a specific health policy, a country, a social movement, a key concept like “social capital,” etc.) and Y, what about this you think you will explore, so that you end up with “the Y of X.”
• the framing and strategies of civil rights versus Black Power movements
• uses of court cases in minority rights in France versus the US
• legal versus protest strategies in the LGBT movement
• the strengths and weaknesses of online organizing and activism, networks,
• advocacy coalitions, notions of horizontalism in groups like Anonymous, notions of net neutrality and surveillance
• List at least 4 key terms of your investigation. One or two of these can just be what you’ve been using in databases for your literature search, but try to get more specific, and start thinking about what your argument will be. Examples might include the underlined parts of the following:
• These folks have different campaign strategies than those folks about X because these folks are focused on effectiveness, while those folks are focused on human rights
• Third wave feminists have different conceptualizations of femininity, choice, and especially constructions of gender than second wave feminists, resulting in contrasting policy preferences
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