Friday, April 17, 2015

Students Present Research at Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting

BU Students and faculty dine after
presenting their research
Guest blogger: Sociology student Paul Deppen

In March I was fortunate enough to have been able to travel to New York City with a group of professors and peers and attend the Eastern Sociological Meeting.  The experience of presenting my own research and engaging with other scholars was a rewarding and encouraging one.  I also learned a lot by listening to other students and professionals present their research.  Their presentations were thought-provoking and greatly enhanced my interest in a variety of topics.  From education to drug policy to gender issues, the breadth of subjects discussed made for an academically fulfilling weekend.  I look forward to applying the benefits of this trip to my own research here at Bloomsburg University and beyond.

For my research project, I decided to look at attitudes towards marijuana legalization.  I chose this topic because of its relevancy to current events in this country with regard to the number of states that have recently legalized cannabis for recreational (not to mention medical) use.  Also, as president of the Bloomsburg University chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), I was interested in identifying particular segments of society that are more supportive of marijuana policy changes, as well as those who are not.

Using data from the 2012 General Social Survey, I analyzed the demographics of people who responded either yes or no to the question, “Should marijuana be made legal?” My results showed that there does exist a significant difference of opinion towards marijuana across race, gender, and level of education. Overall, whites are more supportive of legalization than minorities, as were men regardless of their racial classification. Level of education also affected these attitudes, as the data shows, in that respondents with a bachelor degree or higher were more supportive, especially among males. One unexpected finding was that the gap in support between males and females increased as the level of education increased. Reasons for these differences are unclear, but they could be related to the experiential variation among racial and gender groups in regard to the war on drugs and with marijuana usage itself.

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