Sociological theory

This information is also in the syllabus.

ESSAY

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Sociological Analysis

Select an approved sociological theory from the book ONLY (do not use other sources unless authorized). I must approve your theory; otherwise, you cannot submit your essay and will receive a zero on this assignment.

1) In one paragraph explain why the theory is important to you, 2) in the second paragraph, describe the theory in your own words, 3) use the theory to analyze any aspect of your life (not your family, neighbors or co-workers lives, etc.). In your essay you may need to briefly refer to family, neighbors, co-workers to make an analytical point, but the focus of the essay is the theory as it relates to you and your experiences. The problem with focusing on a family member, co-worker, etc., is that you will be trying to assess their life, often without the information to do so.

For example, if you select Max Weber’s theory of “Bureaucracy,” you can use his theory to analyze aspects of any organization that you have worked in.

Another example, if you select W.E.B. DuBois’s concept of “Double Consciousness,” make sure that you only apply it to analyses of race or ethnicity. IMPORTANT NOTICE: Students who select W.E.B. Du Bois’ theory of Double Consciousness can use DuBois’ original book, “The Souls of Black Folk,” because the textbook does not provide much information on this theory. In these cases, both the textbook and the book must be in the reference page/works cited page.

For those of you using double consciousness as your theory, I have provided information on how to retrieve the book, “The Souls of Black Folk,” by WEB DuBois, which is free because it is out of copyright. Use this link below, as it’s a reliable source for the book:

Go to “Project Gutenberg”
Select “Browse Catalog”
Select “Book Search”
Type in “The Souls of Black Folk”

You will see PDF and other versions of the book. When a book or journal does not have page numbers, you just cite the book and author when citing in your essay.

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If you select “The McDonaldization of Society” you cannot use the theory to analyze your experience working in fast food restaurants.

If you select “Feminist Theory” you must select from the theories in chapter 10, not chapter 1. If applicable, re-read the section: “GENDERED INEQUALITIES IN FAMILIES: DIVISION OF HOUSEHOLD LABOR.” In addition, you will find some of the Feminist Approaches in chapter 15 helpful. If you select a theory on inequality, you must select from the theories in chapter 8, not chapter 1

I must approve the theory that you select. Do not select a non-sociological theory (e.g., psychological or economic theory), and do not select a theory that has no relevance to your experiences. Failure to follow these procedure will result in a failing grade.

The key learning objectives of this assignment are the following:

Connect a sociological theory or concept to real life experiences.

Understand the relationship between theory and praxis (i.e., applying a theory in

practice).

Produce well-reasoned written arguments using evidence to support conclusions.

Writing this Essay:

1) It is important to be specific in this essay, as it is not a research paper where you write a few pages just describing the theory, key concepts, etc.

– In the first paragraph you will explain the importance of the theory.
– In the second paragraph you will define the theory (be sure to include the key aspects) in

your own words with citations.
– In the body of the essay, in every paragraph, you will use the theory to analyze an aspect

of your life. Do not use one aspect of your life for this entire essay.
– The last paragraph will be your conclusion – a summary of your theory and experiences.

2) It is also important that students keep illustrating in their essays that they are connecting their experiences to the actual theory they have selected. The best method is what I call the “weave method,” where for example in every paragraph the student refers to specific element(s) of the theory as a way of illustrating the connection between those element(s) to the social phenomena that the student is describing. There is a constant dialogue between the theory and the experiences/social phenomena. Remember, this is a short essay (if it is a little longer than three pages that is fine, but students should not write lots of pages that are merely descriptive. In addition, this is not an essay where the theory is just referred to once at the beginning of the essay, and the rest of the paper only lists examples. The weaving is the analysis.

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3) The reason why students only provide a brief but detailed description of the theory at the beginning of their papers, and its relevance to what they will write about is because what I am looking for in this essay is each student’s voice, their analysis, not the authors’.

So remember, define the theory and be sure to include all key aspects, and its relevance at the beginning (one or two full paragraphs) and then the paragraphs that follow will illustrate how you are using the theory to analyze your experiences. This does not mean you keep defining the theory in every paragraph (you have done that at the beginning) but it means that in every paragraph you specifically connect that experience to your theory or a component of your theory. For example, if you are using Weber’s theory of bureaucracy you will analyze your experiences using Weber’s 5 components of bureaucracy, and of course you will address each one separately in your essay. I will add, that if you do use Weber’s bureaucracy, you will need to address all 5 components. Why? Because Weber’s theory of bureaucracy is specific. Lastly, you can criticize components of a theory as appropriate, BUT do not select a theory and only discuss how it is NOT relevant to your life (you will receive a very low grade if you do). One former student used Weber’s theory of bureaucracy to analyze his experience in the military and when it came to Weber’s component of separating our public work life from our private home life, the student provided great examples of how his unit sometimes adhered to this and sometimes did not. The student found that Weber’s ideal bureaucracy, was not always adhered to, but then this is what Weber said.

Another example, if you are using feminist theory, look at the specific feminist theories in chapter 10 to see all the layers and components of each feminist theory that you want to use. You do not have to address every component of the feminist theories you select, but use what is appropriate.

4) Examples are key, and examples are not the same as a definition. Whatever theory you are using, you have got to use examples from your life that specifically relate to the theory.

In addition to the information in the syllabus, you will receive additional information about the essay assignment through Blackboard.

This essay is worth 65 points, and must be a minimum of three pages (not including cover page and bibliography).

GRADING YOUR ESSAY

There is an essay rubric at the end of this syllabus, as well as in the RUBRICS tab, which specifies how your essays will be graded. Essay grades with comments can be found in Turnitin. Students can only see their individual grade and comments.

ESSAY GUIDELINES (next page)

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In your analysis be as specific as possible as this will help you think and write critically. Avoid writing long definitions or summaries (from dictionaries and the assigned readings), as this is not critical analysis. Examples are key. In addition, do not generalize or use bullets.

Essays will be a minimum of three full pages in length, double-spaced and have a font size of 12. Margins must be 1 inch on the top and the bottom and 1.25 inches on the left and right side of each page. Please do not submit a PDF file or a file in PAGES. Be sure to number the pages and include a cover page (separate from the three page essay), which will include your name and a title. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME AND TITLE OF THE ESSAY ON ANY OTHER PAGE BUT THE COVER PAGE).

Writing more than three full pages is fine, however, what is most important is how thorough your essay is and whether you directly addressed the assignment.

Bibliography/reference page: Essays must have a correct bibliography/reference page (you may choose the style, APA, MLA, etc.) separate from the three page essay. Failure to comply with these guidelines will result in a much lower grade.

The bibliography is important, and incomplete and incorrect bibliographies will also result in lower grade (for example, if there is no bibliography your grade will be lowered by a full grade).

Citations. You must correctly cite in the essay, after you refer to an author’s theory or work. If you do not cite at all in this essay you will receive an F. If you do not cite as needed, your grade will be lowered by a full grade. A lack of citations amounts to plagiarism.

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