In every classroom, there are the official rules, goals, behaviors, structure, etc. that are laid down by the professor and the university in general. At the same time, there is an informal -- underground -- student culture and social system that helps determine what really happens in the classroom. Students may seek to control "ass-kissers" and "rate-busters" (people who work too hard, making everyone else look bad). They may cheat, minimize workload, get advice from friends who took the class before, etc. There are a million strategies that students use to cope with school. Many of these strategies require a certain social structure. For example, if a person is part of a clique, then the clique members can exert peer pressure to keep that person in line. But if the person is not a part of any clique, it may be hard to control them.
The objective of this paper is document and analyze this underground social structure and culture that shapes student behavior. The paper must be empirically based: that is, based on real situations that you observe. To get an 'A', a paper must have many specific examples in the form of short anecdotes or descriptions of real situations that you have seen or been part of.
The exact topic or topics is up to you, as long as you stick to these general guidelines. The paper should be between 8 and 25 pages. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, talk to me and your classmates. Or go to the library and read about informal organization (e.g., the book Management and the Worker by Roethlisberger and Dixon).
Your papers are confidential. If you write about illegal activities, you can be sure that neither the professor nor the TA will pass on the information to anyone else.
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