Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Research Blog #1

The topic I am considering for the class project is going to be focused mainly on sorority life at college. I am familiar and interested in this topic because I am involved with greek life at Rutgers. I would be open to including fraternities in my project if it doesn't make it end up being too broad. There is a negative stereotype in the media more so in the past few years about greek life more than ever. I would like to analyze this, what makes sorority life so appealing to girls, and what makes hazing so popular to some fraternities and sororities.


  1. I have had many students write about Greek life over the years and you can find a dozen student blogs on the topic in our sidebar. A couple recent ones include:

    I liked Kevin's topic, as he basically turned Armstrong and Hamilton's argument on its head to show the advantages of "social closure" for Greek members.

    Most students have wanted to look at the more "positive" aspects of Greek life and often begin their research trying to "defend" fraternities or sororities from "false stereotypes." But that's not a good way to begin. Probably the easiest way to begin is to look at what is being written about by academics, as you can know for sure you will find a lot of research on that topic. The classic Greek-life theme in the literature is hazing as that has been a recurrent problem over the years and tends to gain attention periodically when someone gets killed and it makes the news. Hank Nuwer has basically made his career writing on this topic from every possible angle, and while most of his work on fraternity hazing is "older" rather than newer it would definitely be the classic place to start. I had a student write about sorority hazing during the first year I taught this class, when there had recently been a couple hazing incidents at Rutgers that made the news. Her argument, based on Nuwer's work, was that hazing at Greek houses that practice it goes through cycles of "escalating revenge" in which each successive year tries to "top" the tortures inflicted upon the previous years' members in order to get "payback" for what they themselves endured, and this escalates until someone gets hurt or killed, after which hazing is suspended or gets dramatically reduced for a while until it slowly begins to escalate again. I found it a very compelling argument, but it was not the most successful paper unfortunately. Her blog was here (and will hurt your eyes due to the white on black):

    The chief advantage of hazing as a topic, though, is that a lot has been written about it. And it is a very interesting topic. However, just analyzing the "rituals" of sororities would be interesting too. I have a couple of books that might be useful to you, whatever you decide to do.
    Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities
    Inside Greek U

  2. To get a good sense of what has been written about sororities, you might begin by looking at this book, which is free through the Rutgers libraries site and available online:
    J-B ASHE Higher Education Report Series (AEHE) Ser. : The Influence of Fraternity and Sorority Involvement : A Critical Analysis of Research (1996-2013) (1)
    by Biddix, J. Patrick
    Matney, Malinda M.
    Norman, Eric M.

    Try this link (which will work easiest if you are using a Rutgers computer or are logged into the Rutgers system):

  3. There is a hazing chapter from Guyland about fraternity hazing that might interest you on our Sakai site under Resources --> Supplemental Readings -->Guyland (Drinking). I think this link might work, once you log into Sakai: