Honours

Are you excited about conducting your own research? Are you thinking about continuing your studies in sociology? If so, the honours program is for you!

Students in the honours thesis program are engaged in original, innovative, cutting-edge research. Each year honours students conduct research on social issues ranging from policing and crime control to food production and the healthcare system.

Current honours student work

This year’s honours students have produced a set of fascinating theses.

Olivia Bing

Olivia Bing

 

The various approaches to treating addiction are often heavily contested. Additionally, our understanding and conceptualizations of addictions themselves are rooted in discursive narratives. Methadone maintenance therapy, a form of opioid replacement therapy, is considered to be the most efficient way of treating addictions to heroin, oxycodone, morphine and other opiates according to the biomedical paradigm. Biomedical discourse suggests that methadone maintenance adherence will grant patients autonomy in addition to preventing withdrawal symptoms and relapse. Intersecting at times with the prohibitionist narrative of the criminal justice system, the primary objective of methadone maintenance therapy according to biomedicine is reintegrating a patient into society and preventing crime. In contrast, the harm reduction paradigm takes an apolitical public health stance which is primarily concerned with reducing communicable disease transmission and societal harm.

The aim of my research is to understand how addiction and its related social ills are problematized by discursive narratives historically and presently. To do so, I have conducted a governmental analysis drawing on the work of Mitchell Dean and Michel Foucault to understand the different ways addiction is discursively problematized by the biomedical, harm reduction and criminal justice paradigms. Additionally, my research explores the techniques of governance imposed on methadone patients and the resulting treatment compliance issues that arise from clinic policies which exercise biopolitical power over patients.

To gain insight into the nuances of methadone maintenance therapy, I have analyzed patient’s experiences on methadone in addition to analyzing the detrimental impact on patients the BC government switching methadone to methadose has had. Building on Michel Foucault’s concept of biopower, I argue that the methadone clinic operates as a form of “liquid handcuffs” which undermine a patient’s autonomy, physical mobility and ability to cease opiate replacement therapy. The aim of my research is to highlight the various competing discourses on managing opioid addiction and to illustrate the forms of governance imposed on methadone patients through various biopolitical technologies.

Olivia Bing 

Alexandra Haupt

Alexandra Haupt

Community-Engaged Learning: One Student's Journey Beyond the Classroom.

Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) is a growing branch of education that helps students connect what they are studying in class to real-world problems. This study is an autoethnographic account of my experience participating in CEL in order to highlight the student voice in a faculty-saturated field. Over five months, I joined a UVic PhD researcher working with a community theatre group and high school students, who together wrote an original play and workshop exploring sexuality across the lifespan. As the project assistant, I collected data using reflexive field notes in order to analyze what one student’s journey through CEL can teach us about sociology. Findings include: how to actively build a safe intergenerational community; what tools are necessary for undergraduate students to flourish in CEL; how Applied and Public Sociology courses underscore the importance of reflexivity in community-based research. University CEL programmers and faculty teaching CEL courses may benefit from gaining insight into a student’s perspective. Additionally, students interested in CEL may find another student’s account useful in pursuing CEL opportunities. My hope is that this research will highlight the value of participating in CEL for undergraduate sociology students and guide students and instructors in what is important in creating successful CEL experiences.

Alexandra_Haupt

Arrate Martinez

Arrate Martinez

The 'Strong Woman' and Contemporary Feminism(s)

As a sociology honours and psychology major, I am interested in interpersonal communication and the social construction of language. Recently, the concept ‘Strong Woman’ has become prevalent in social media and everyday conversational settings. This concept can be currently found in the context of the #metoo movement, political settings and media entertainment. This study aims to examine how the concept ‘Strong Woman’ fits with contemporary feminism(s). To explore this term, I am doing qualitative research that involves critical discourse analysis and focus groups. In this project, I theorize that the term ‘Strong Woman’ might be understood as ambivalent language with potentially multiple effects that do not always align with the intended message. I hope this study can shed light on femininity and intersectionality in the context of fourth-wave feminism, post-feminism and neoliberalism. In this process, I aim to begin a wider discussion and provide a level of clarity on the work that ‘Strong Woman’ is doing in the context of contemporary feminism(s).

Arrate Martinez

Jana Vincent

Jana Vincent

Although the completion of my degree is fast approaching, I am leaving my undergrad eager to learn more. I feel that when I open up my mind to differences I am in a position to learn so much. To me, this is especially true when I think about marginalized groups; when I remove my preconceived ideas and judgements I have been amazed by what others can teach me. Of particular interest are key markers of individual resilience. For my Honours Thesis I am conducting a systematic review of street-involved youth resilience; more specifically, I am trying to better understand how street-involved youth utilize support networks to foster their own resiliency. By compiling current research on this topic, my ultimate goal is to further promote the idea of ‘asset-based research’, particularly among street-involved youth. After my undergrad, I am interested in completing a Master’s degree in Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development; my Honours research has become an important stepping stone in pursuing this academic path.

 

Jana Vincent

Nathaniel Waldman

Nathaniel Waldman

In the current era of big data, societies are becoming increasingly complex. Consequently, the traditional ways in which institutions have previously functioned are changing exponentially. The recent emergence of predictive policing technology has changed the way policing is conducted by prioritizing efficiency, proactiveness and the reduction of profiling bias. Research indicates, however, that predictive policing may not be as valuable as one would anticipate because it perpetuates previously existing biases.

Understanding how artificial intelligence technology works is both legally and ethically important to uncover potential social issues that it may posit. I have conducted a mixed-methods systematic review of the available research to analyze the costs and benefits of predictive software; I highlight the implications this technology may have for individuals in society. The goal of this research was to promote an increased awareness of what predictive technology entails while establishing a comprehensive foundation for future research and a platform for policy recommendations.

Nathaniel Waldman

The honours program is designed to enrich your learning experience in sociology by providing opportunities to conduct research in a specialized area.

The program is recommended for anyone who is planning to pursue a graduate degree or who wants to find answers to sociological problems. Honours alumni students are well placed to take advantage of a broad range of study and work opportunities.

Program benefits include:

  • The opportunity to get the most from your education and to move from studying to doing sociology.
  • The ability to work one-on-one with a faculty supervisor.
  • Regular interaction with a small group of highly motivated and committed students in sociology.
  • Early exposure to the type of educational experience typical of master’s and doctoral programs.
  • Access to some of the opportunities and benefits available to graduate students (e.g., space, invitations to departmental seminars).
  • Opportunities to interact with graduate students and faculty members.
  • Strengthening your application to graduate programs in sociology and other academic programs.
  • Acquiring skills (analytical, writing, research) that provide a competitive advantage in the context of an increasingly knowledge-based economy.
  • Receiving a degree that is widely recognized as a sign of academic excellence by employers.
  • Eligibility for the Alan Hedley Sociology Honours Essay Award.
In the honours program, you will write a graduating essay under the supervision of a faculty member.

The essay usually consists of a library-research based review of literature on a sociological topic, including analytical comments and suggestions for future research or an empirical research project.

The essay allows you to explore the literature and write comprehensively on a specific problem or issue while learning the principles of sound argumentation and analytical writing at an advanced level.

The specific requirements for the essay are negotiated with the supervisor who monitors your progress and provides guidance.

SOCI 499 is a seminar designed to support you through the various stages involved in completing your graduating essay, including selecting a supervisor, identifying a topic, developing a proposal, establishing a timeline and plan of action, completing the research, and reporting the results.

For more information on the honours program, see the Honours FAQ.