Intro to Sociology


Essay Assignment

Points: 300 points

For this assignment, apply one of the sociological concepts we have learned in class to a real life social phenomena or problem. The goal of this paper is to “get your hands dirty” with sociological theory and exercise your ability to think like a sociologist. You may choose from one of the following theories/concepts :

• Socialization (gender)
Gender Socialization: How boys and girls are socialized?
– Gender Role
– Gender socialization
– Influence of Biology, family, education, career choice . . . etc.

• Functionalism
• Marxism
• Symbolic Interactionism (Goffman)
• Merton’s strain theory of deviance
• Foucaultian understanding of power
• Cultural Capital (Bourdieu)
• Medicalization
• Structural Inequalities (ex. Institutional racism)

The real life scenario that you choose to apply your chosen concept to can come from personal experience or be relevant to current events. Regardless of what you choose, the sociological concept you use alongside it should help illuminate what is hadppening in the phenomenon and why it is sociologically meaningful. For example, I might write a paper about the booming Barbie Doll industry in terms of socialization young girls undergo to learn about beauty expectations for women.

The process of choosing this kind of scenario can be daunting as almost any and everything can be looked at sociologically. I recommend that you start by thinking about your own interests and personal experiences. Are there social phenomena that have ever made you stop and wonder? Something you think has personally affected you? Alternatively, you might want to start by picking a sociological concept that you particularly liked learning about and from there choose a real life example.

Your paper should include the following:

1) Description and background information about your real-life example (40 points)
2) Information about the sociological concept you’ll be using. You should provide enough information that someone who has never taken a sociology class can understand the concept you are using. (50 points)
3) An application of the concept to your example; what does the concept tells us about the situation? (ex. How do I interpret the strange bodily proportions of Barbie dolls when using the concept of socialization?–>meant to teach girls about the [unrealistic] expectations for women’s bodies, emphasis on thinness, ect.) (80 points)
4) Why did you choose this sociological concept over others? What important information does it reveal that other theories do not offer? (30 points)
5) A explanation of how you would study this scenario empirically (would you interview people, collect quantitative data? Who would you study? Where? What kinds of survey questions would you ask?, etc.). Make sure to explain why you think your choice is better than other options.(50 points)
6) Organization and a clear argument (50 points)

paper should be 6 pages long, double spaces, Times New Roman font size 12 with standard margins.