Welcome to the Center for Social Inquiry!
I am pleased to welcome you to the Center for Social Inquiry homepage. Since our inception in March 2011, we have engaged in a number of activities to enhance the quality and breadth of research and intellectual life in the Department of Sociology at Texas State University. The five pull-down tabs above now denote the areas of focus for our work: Applied Sociological Research, Basic Sociological Research, Community Development through Leisure and the Arts, Publication Support, and Programs. Please take a look at our exciting projects.
We really enjoy our new building, the Undergraduate Academic Center (UAC) that was completed in June 2012. Our facilities include state-of-the art qualitative and quantitative research labs, and seminar and meeting rooms with complete audio-visual and media support. Please feel free to contact us for a tour of our new facilities—the view of downtown San Marcos from our offices is breathtaking, and we even have our own Starbucks!
The people who fuel the Center for Social Inquiry—faculty, staff, students, and fellows—believe that Sociology offers the conceptual designs and research methodologies to help solve problems in the public, private, and governmental sectors. Please ask us about our past achievements and our plans for the future.
Joseph A. Kotarba, Ph.D.
Director, Center of Social Inquiry
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs awarded a $52,000 contract to the Center for Social Inquiry to evaluate the 2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Network. The specific focus is on the ability of the service to provide helpful information and referrals for citizens’ health and human services concerns. Dr. Jonathan Wivagg is serving as project director, Colin Pierson is serving as senior researcher, Jonafa Banbury is serving as research assistant, and Junfang Chen from Geography is serving as GIS consultant for the project. The project will be conducted during summer and fall 2014.
On March 27-29, 2014, the Center for Social Inquiry and the Department of Sociology at Texas State University hosted an intimate symposium focused specifically on music. There is a long history of symbolic interactionist interest in music, ranging from Howard Becker’s seminal work on jazz musicians to contemporary studies of music festivals, music scenes, and other exciting topics. With the generous support of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, the Couch Family Foundation, the Center for the Study of the Southwest and local sources, our symposium was both intellectually and musically exciting.
We presented sessions on music and self-identity, the social organization of music, a potpourri of musical styles, mundane experiences of music in everyday life, and interdisciplinary studies of music. Dr. Timothy Dowd, from Emory University, presented the keynote address on the contributions of symbolic interaction to the Sociology of Music. Anchored by good bar-b-que, an outstanding video on Mexican-American music in the Texas Hill Country, and an exhilarating concert by Leon Russell in the historic Gruene Hall, we set the tone for the future sociological study of music.
Dr. Rachel Romero is studying urban expansion and gentrification, with a special focus on the street art subculture. The goal of the research is to explore the experiences of local street artists and graffiti artists in the midst of Austin’s sprawling urban growth. The project draws from in-depth interviews with street artists, original photographs depicting the evolving Austin’s street art scene, and Dr. Romero’s personal experiences in the field. Although the primary methods used in the study are qualitative, quantitative data drawn from City of Austin records, including reports from the Austin’s Police Department, the Austin’s Park and Recreation Department, and the Building Services Department supplement this study. A pilot grant from the Center for Social Inquiry provides support for this study, which complements the Center’s focus on community development research.
This was the second follow-up workshop to the multi-method needs assessment study conducted by the Center in 2012-2013. This study consisted of surveys distributed to recipients of social services, social services administrators, and City of San Marcos administrators. We also conducted focus groups with representative citizens of San Marcos, and analyzed relevant demographic data. Faculty and graduate students from Sociology, the School of Health Care Administration, and the School of Social Work at Texas State University comprised the research team conducting the study. The link to the final report is posted on the CSI homepage.
Dr. Gloria Martinez-Ramos, Department of Sociology, is organizing the San Marcos Hispanic Music Oral History Project. The goal of this community-based, collaborative effort is to describe and archive the rich history of Hispanic music in San Marcos, Texas. The three collaborating organizations are the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos; the Center for Social Inquiry; and the Center for the Study of the Southwest. This history will be assembled through the experiences and perspectives of the many generations of Hispanic musicians who have lived and performed in San Marcos.
Professor Gayle Gordon Bouzard, Senior Lecturer and Undergraduate Advisor, has been awarded a seed grant from the Center for Social Inquiry to conduct study of the social construction of heterosexual identity among university women. Professor Bouzard will replicate groundbreaking research on this topic conducted by Dr. Sophia Demasi in 1999. Professor Bouzard will extend Dr. Demasi’s work by interviewing women of color and focusing attention on race, ethnicity and age considerations.
CSI Director, Dr. Joseph A. Kotarba, is presenting a lecture on “Melding Quantitative & Qualitative Research: Examples from the Center for Social Inquiry” at the 3rd Annual Academy of Health Sciences Graduate School Research Day. The lecture will take place at the US Army Medical Department Center and School on December 10, 2013, at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. The Center is where the Army Medical Department formulates its medical organization, tactics, doctrine, and equipment. The School is where the Army educates and trains all of its medical personnel. This is the first year the Academy is inviting the civilian research community to participate. Baylor University, University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio, and St. Mary’s University are also participating.