Sociology 102 Final Assignment
For this assignment, you will apply one of the sociological theories that you have read about in this class to a real-world topic. You will choose a theory, choose a current event or issue, and then apply the theory to it. The goal of this assignment is for you to strengthen your ability to think and write about how sociological theories are relevant to understanding the real world.
Length and Organization: Your paper should be typed and 6 pages long using 12-point font, double-spacing and normal margins. You must also include a references page at the end of your paper (which doesn’t count towards the page requirement).
The text of your paper should have five sections:
- Brief introduction that says
- what sociological theory you will describe
- what real-world topic you will describe
- how this sociological theory applies (or doesn’t apply) to the topic. Come back to this after you’ve written the rest of your paper to make sure it matches.
- Description of the Theory
- Include a summary of the overall argument(s)
- Provide definitions of key concepts (from lecture or the readings)
- Explain how the concepts are related as part of the overall theory
- You can sometimes use quotes, but mainly describe it in your own words
- Description of the Topic
- Provide basic information about the topic. Think about basic questions (what, who, when, etc.) when deciding what to include.
- Include information that is relevant for applying the theory (in section 4)
- Don’t assume that your reader has any existing knowledge of the topic.
- Application of Theory to Topic
- This depends on what your topic is. You might use the theory to explain why an event occurred, to analyze an issue, to critique some aspect of society, etc.
- Check that you are applying ideas that you described in section 2. Check that you are applying them to specific facts from section 3
- You can also discuss ways in which the theory isn’t applicable.
- Brief conclusion
- Restate which theory you described and what your topic was.
- Summarize what you said in section 4.
Instructions for Choosing a Theory and Topic for your Paper: There are two ways you can approach this assignment. You can start by picking a theory, then choosing a topic. Alternatively, you can start by choosing an event or issue and then choosing a theory. You will need to think about whether the theory could really be applied at all to the topic before starting writing.
Here is a list of the theories that you can choose from:
- Miliband’s (1969) theory of the state
- Marcuse’s (1941, 1969) critical theory
- Mead’s (1934) theory of self and society
- Blumer’s (1969) theory of symbolic interaction
- Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical theory
- Berger and Luckmann’s (1966) elaboration on phenomenology (pages 19-46 in The Social Construction of Reality).
- Berger and Luckmann’s (1966) social constructionist theory (the other parts of The Social Construction of Reality).
- Foucault’s (1977) theory of power and knowledge
- West and Zimmerman’s (1987) theory of doing gender
- Crenshaw’s (1989) theory of intersectionality
- Omi and Winant’s (2015) theory of racial formation
- Bourdieu’s (2001) theory of masculine domination
You can choose any current event or issue as long as you can find credible, useful sources about it. If you are having difficulty thinking of a topic, I recommend looking at social media, major newspapers (such as The New York Times or LA Times) and other news sources to find inspiration. Also think about issues relevant to your own life or brainstorm with friends.
Finding Sources: You will need to find at least 3 trustworthy and useful sources about your topic that are not assigned readings for this class. You may need more if the sources are brief and/or do not provide enough information about the topic. Here are recommended ways to find good sources.
- A simple Google search can be a helpful place to start, although you will need to carefully vet the hits that come up.
- Nexis Uni (formerly LexisNexis) for finding newspaper articles. To access Nexis Uni, login through www.library.ucla.edu.
- Google Scholar – http://scholar.google.com/ – for finding academic books, articles, and research reports. Log into your UCLA account to get access to many of them.
- JSTOR – http://www.jstor.org/ for finding academic articles. To access it, login through www.library.ucla.edu.
- UCLA WorldCat – http://ucla.worldcat.org/ – for finding books.
We will discuss these options more in class. I highly recommend recording the citations for online sources as you find them, rather than just bookmarking them. You can use a citation generator like Zotero. However, be sure to check that all of the necessary information is included; citation generators don’t always work.
Evaluating Sources: You will need to evaluate whether the sources you find are trustworthy. Examples of sources that are (usually) trustworthy are articles from major newspapers, academic articles and books, and government reports. In general, sources that just offer opinions (rather than providing facts) should not be used for this assignment. Also, websites that can be edited by anyone at any time, like Wikipedia, should not be used as sources.
When finding sources, you must also evaluate whether the source is useful. Look it over and assess if it will actually help you describe your specific topic. Don’t just go with the first 3 sources you find without first making sure they are relevant. Also, do not choose sources that are already applying one of the theories to the topic. The point of the assignment is for you to make the connections between the theory and your topic, not to restate someone else’s argument. We will discuss evaluating sources more in class.
Citations: For citations, please follow the American Psychology Association (APA) style. You only need to follow the rules about in-text citations and list of references. You can ignore any other rules (like needing an abstract). There will be a basic guide to APA style (with examples) on the course website. You can also find a useful guide to APA style at Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/.
You must cite all sources that you reference, including both outside sources and any readings or lectures from this class. Furthermore, any factual claims that you make should be supported by at least one source. Sources should be cited “in-text”; whenever you are drawing on a source in the body of the paper, you need to include an in-text citation to give proper credit. You must also have a references page at the end of your paper. Be sure to check that all of the sources you draw on are included on the references page.
Academic Honesty: All students are expected to comply with the university’s policies on academic integrity. For this paper, you must not:
- Plagiarize another work by failing to cite the source of the ideas you use
- Plagiarize by using a direct quote from a work without putting it in quotation marks
- Re-use any work you submitted for a previous class, unless you get explicit permission from the Professor.
Academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will be reported to the Dean of Students’ office for formal disciplinary proceedings.
Submission: You will submit your papers through Turnitin, an online service that checks student work for plagiarism. To use Turnitin, you must log onto my.ucla.edu, go to the information for this class, and click the Turnitin link. You will need to register to use the service; do this well in advance of the deadline for turning in the paper. When you are ready to submit the paper, click on the Turnitin link and follow the instructions. Be sure to save your paper as a .doc or .pdf; Turnitin does not work for other file types.
Additional Guidance: Professor Speer and the TAs are very happy to help you with any part of this assignment. You are strongly encouraged to come to office hours to get guidance on choosing a theory that can be applied to your topic, finding useful sources, etc. You are also encouraged to discuss this assignment with your peers – to brainstorm ideas, give each other feedback, and help each other with proofreading. Lastly, you can get help at the UCLA Undergraduate Writing Center. To make an appointment at the writing center, go to www.wp.ucla.edu/uwc and click on “Make an Appointment”.