Intro to social theory | ISF | University of California, Berkeley

Currently, American society is suffering from multiple crises such as economic crisis, social crisis, health crisis, climate crisis, political crisis, and legitimacy crisis. The economic crisis is due to a global pandemic and a consequent lockdown that has claimed thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and hundreds of businesses. The social crisis is manifested in the levels of social inequality between classes and between races. The health crisis is largely due to the commodification of healthcare which is doubly hit by the current pandemic. A climate crisis is evident in the frequent hurricanes, on the one hand, and wildfires in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado burning millions of acres of land and hundreds of houses, on the other. On top of all this, the legitimacy of the political leadership, the bureaucratic state institutions, the legal and criminal justice system, and liberal democracy as a whole is challenged. If Marx, Weber, and Durkheim were writing today, how would they theorize the current crises of American society?

In this assignment, you will address these questions using the theoretical insights you have gained from Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. You must use all three theorists and should utilize at least one or more theories from each of them. You have the option to focus on only one crisis, such as the climate crisis, or explain how all crises are related to a general crisis of capitalism. Your arguments must be based on empirical evidence available in different sources such as news reports, published journal articles, and online databases. A good starting point would be to think about what the theorists got right about what has led to our current crisis, even without having experienced it themselves.

The assignment will be graded based on the following criteria:

  • The essay is well organized and well structured, addressing all the above points in the prompt.
  • The essay is well argued based on empirical grounds.
  • You have proved a good understanding of the topic, readings, and related literature beyond the readings.
  • The paper is well documented, using proper Chicago style citations and references, carefully proofread for grammatical errors, and well presented.

Using 12-point Times New Roman font, double space, and 1-inch margin on all sides, write your essay in 8 pages and add a page or more for references and appendices if any.

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