Sociology 001: Introduction to Sociology
Sociology papers are not as easy for me to write as anthropology papers. It unfortunately took me a while to realize that sociological data examination took longer than simply correlating references from the appropriate anthropology textbooks. This is the first sociology paper I've written that I'm that pleased with... and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it required little in the way of data 'massage.' However, hopefully I've learned from this quarter's paper-writing experiences.
The questions below were designed to encourage you to synthesize what you have learned and to articulate it in written form. Your answers must demonstrate your knowledge of the readings and lectures; you can be as critical as you like as long as you show us that you know the material. In order to answer the questions adequately, you will have to review relevant reading and lecture notes; summarize this material; outline the core points of your arguments; write draft answers and then edit them carefully for brevity and clarity of analysis. Turn in only the edited, final versions and be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
For each of the three questions below, write a cogent, concise essay that is at least 3 pages in length (typed, double-spaced, 1" margins). Staple them together with your name, your TA's name, and your section day/time on the first page. Hand them in no later than 4:00 pm, Wednesday, December 8, at [deleted].
According to American lore, the U.S. is an "open" society in which anyone can rise as far up the social ladder as his/her abilities and efforts will take them. Many Americans have managed to be socially mobile, and even most affluent people have worked hard to achieve what they have. However, it is also true that - irrespective of individual effort or ability - wealth, power, and privilege are socially structured along class, racial, and gender lines. Using basic concepts and data from the relevant chapters in the Giddens text and illustration from the Massey reader, describe how this social structuring operates to create an unequal, stratified society.
Analyze any major social institution (e.g., family religion, education, medicine) by using the relevant reading and lecture materials to show a) how any two of the three major theoretical perspectives in sociology (functionalist, conflict, interactionist) help us to most fully understand that institution, and b) how that institution has been shaped by both the broader political-economic system and social movement for social change.
In the last section of the course, you read and heard about some of the tensions between democracy and capitalism. One theme in these sections was that the relation between state and market (government and business) varies across societies, and within societies over time, depending primarily upon political struggles. Using any reading and lecture materials you find relevant, write an essay in which you describe how one significant change was made in the state-market relation so that society is more just and fair. In your conclusion, suggest at least one way in which the U.S. (or another society you choose) is likely to be more just and fair in the future because of social movement activity in the present.
Last Updated: Sun Dec 12 1999