TERM PAPER GUIDELINES
Students will be required to write one standard format, five-page paper. This theory application assignment will ask you to select and apply ONE theoretical perspective (e.g., Durkheim or Exchange Theory) to an empirical case of your choosing.
The application papers are intended for you to examine one specific theoretical concept introduced in the reading and lecture and “apply” or “use” them to understand a “real world” social issue found in contemporary society. In writing each application paper you will be expected to demonstrate:
(1) an accurate understanding of your chosen concept and (2) an ability to use the concept to “frame” the
social issue being presented. Basically, you’ll demonstrate how your concept helps us to gain new insight into something that’s happening in the world today. These papers are to no more than 5 pages long. They must be typed (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 11 or 12 point New Times Roman /Calibri font) and follow correct citation and referencing procedures (APA).
Paper content and organization
Please begin your analysis with a brief summary the concept of interest to you and link it to the appropriate theorist or theoretical perspective. The concept should be taken from assigned class reading. Be sure to cite the source of your concept following the citation format instructions. Examples of the types of concepts I’m referring to here might be: solidarity, anomie, alienation, surplus value, Protestant ethic, habitus, cultural capital, etc. In addition to providing a definition/description of the concept, provide an example to further illustrate your understanding.
Once you have clearly explained the concept, move onto a few paragraphs that describe or summarize the key parts of the contemporary societal phenomenon. Just tell us about the most important facets of the social phenomenon for a better understanding of what it is and why it might be important. These paragraphs should merely summarize the information presented (wait until the next section to “apply” the concepts).
In the next part of the paper show how each part of the theoretical concept manifests itself. What part of the social phenomenon made you think about each theoretical concept? The type of experience I’m referring to here is of the sort: “Hey! That sounds just like what we were reading about in theory last week.” Explain the connection. What made you see this link and help us to see it like you did? This takes some real critical thinking skill and is what is meant by“application.” You are using theoretical concepts to help us solve (or “frame”) a particular sociological “puzzle” that may have arisen in contemporary society. Note: Using specific descriptions will really help you to clearly demonstrate the connection to your theoretical concept. This can help you to explain what specifically made you think that the theoretical concept was being illustrated in this particular facet of contemporary society.
Conclude the paper with a summary of your main points. What insights do you want the reader to take away from your paper? What should the reader really remember about what you’ve said in the paper?
At the end of the paper, include a reference page.
Ø Explain the theory.
Before you critique a theory, you need to “discover” it, and bring it into being in the context of your paper. Establish its context and purpose, and delineate its main argument. Consider the questions you asked yourself while reading.
One way this can be done is to define the theory using an aside:
Marx’s theory of historical materialism—the notion that history is a result of material conditions rather than ideas—characterizes his approach to societal change.
Ø Define terminology.
Even though the professor knows the terminology being used by the author of the text you are analyzing, it is important to introduce these terms and bring them from the theorist’s world to our own.
The idea that catalyzes and gives way to the core of Durkheim’s argument is “anomie.” Anomie is the condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals
Ø Use the active voice.
Not only is it more interesting, but using the passive voice also seems inherently not sociological, as it eliminates a main actor of the situation.
It has been suggested by Weber that bureaucracies have become the dominant form of social organization in modern society.
Might turn into…
Weber suggests that bureaucracies have become the dominant form of social organization in modern society.
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