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SOC 350: Theories Guiding Sociology (spring 2024)

Dr. Jackie Burnside

Why the news?

  • For the most up-to-date coverage of an issue; journal articles aren't written until 6 months or more after an event

  • To better understand the perspective of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers; non-academics get their information from newspapers and news on television, not scholarly articles

  • To kick off your own scholarship; academic writing is a conversation

  • To learn about recent academic discoveries; articles often mention "a recent study found that...", which you can track down

The Assignment

SOC 350:  Theories Guiding Sociology                                                         Date: ______________ 2024

Dr. J. Burnside                        First Essay (20%):   Can Facts Speak for Themselves?

For this comparison and contrast style essay, students are free to choose the news topic of your interest.  One purpose of this first essay is to practice your applying sociological theories, drawing concepts from three theorists.   By exploring content from contemporary news resources, we can describe and explain key theoretical points as you have come to understand them.   Do note any shortcomings that you perceive, as you apply concepts to examples to illustrate that the theoretical ideas are relevant and helpful to one’s understanding.   Some of your examples may challenge the theorists’ claims by providing aspects of social phenomena that do not fit the expectations, or assumptions, laid out in the theories.  If so, give your opinion about the strengths and/or shortcomings evident in each theory you apply. 

            Being successful on this first essay will depend on your narrowing the topic, planning the paper by thinking and discussing ideas at each step of the research and writing process.  In addition to your instructor and classmates, you have our Sociology Department Reference librarian, Ms. Amanda Peach, and the writing resources center staff for assistance and feedback.

Length: 900-1100  word count, typed 12-font (Arial or Times New Roman), 1.5 line spacing with proper citations (in-text and works cited list), no cover page expected.

Assignment Timeline -  accessed 1/16/2024

January 16-18+: narrowing a topic, developing a thesis & outline, brainstorming potential theories

January 23rd: Hutchins Library Workshop, we meet with Ms. Amanda Peach in room 104.

February 1st:  Confer w/instructor to talk about topic, working thesis with updated outline, and

working bibliography (6-8 sources, including our text)

February 8th: Peer Review (PR):  Student arranges with class peer or CTL consultant –

attach PR form to essay

February 15th: First essay due, on paper,  at class time; attach PR & Library Strategy form with Final Essay

SOC 350:  Theories Guiding Sociology                                                         Name _______________________

Dr. Burnside                           Rubric:  First Essay (@20%)                          Date ___________________

Feedback Scale:  Very Good (A, A-); Good (B+, B, B-); Fair, mostly satisfactory (C+, C, C-);

Unsatisfactory (D+, D, D-), Failing (F)

____________  Good attention-catching title and interesting introduction

___________    Descriptive details about News topic

__________     Explanations demonstrate good understanding of theories

­­­­­­­­­­­­__________    Applications of concepts are well defined and illustrated with relevant examples.

__________   Provides strong comparison and contrast of key points, inclusive of your thinking (your opinion)

__________    Proper Grammar, fulfills word count, typed, 1.5 line-spaced, uses APA (in-text and Works Cited), six sources (minimum, including course text).  Peer Review feedback is attached.

___________  Grade and Comment: _________________________________________

3 Perspectives

Sociological Theoretical Perspectives

Functionalism: A theoretical perspective based on the notion that social events can best be explained in terms of the functions they perform – that is, the contributions they make to the continuity of a society.

Conflict:  A theory which argues that deviance is deliberately chosen and often political in nature.

Symbolic Interactionism:  A theoretical approach in sociology developed by George Herbert Mead, which emphasizes the roles of symbols and language as core elements of all human interaction.

Works Cited:

Giddens, Anthony. Essentials of Sociology. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2008. Print.

News Sources

Information Life-cycle Infographic

Media Bias Chart