Please submit as a single document (PDF or word)
Total 20% of final course grade
There are two objectives for this assignment.
Objective A: present a critical sociological analysis of a chosen social problem in the Canadian context
· ‘Analysis’: More than just identifying or describing the problem, but breaking it down into smaller units to understand the whole, using the sociological imagination and conceptual/theoretical tools. You may of course combine your analysis with empirical data – using statistics, graphs, charts, etc. to illustrate the issue as well as your sociological stance.
Objective B: discuss considerations for policy and practical solutions
· Based on your analysis, discuss the practical directions that policy should take to address/mitigate the issue. You can think of this part as policy evaluation and recommendation:
– Evaluation: look at what is already being done in the real world, and evaluate whether you believe it is enough/effective. What about current policy approaches is working, and what is not?
– Recommendation: What about current policy approaches should stay the same or change? What else/more should be done (or what would a different, better policy approach look like?)
Choose one scholarly style you are comfortable with, and stick to it for your paper’s format, referencing, citation, etc. The most common styles are MLA, APA, and Chicago (notes/bibliography OR author-date).
Please include a title page and a reference list. Appendices are optional, if your paper includes any images, graphs or tables. These elements must abide to your chosen scholarly citation style.
Alongside the specificities of your chosen scholarly style, the paper must be double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman, minimum 8 pages and absolute maximum 11 pages. Your title page, reference list, and appendices are not part of the page count.
Minimum 6 sources, but a majority of them must be academic. (Academic sources are works that are peer-reviewed, usually from academic journals. Our Questia and presentation articles count as academic sources. Books are dependent, but our course textbook will count as an academic source.)
Please ensure that all sources are cited in-text and referenced properly. (Please double-check your assignment before submission to make sure there aren’t any errors/discrepancies!)
You may use “I”/first person voice.
Will be graded out of 20 marks, based on the following:
Does the discussion address both objectives?
Background/context of the social issue: Does it provide relevant and illustrative details? Does it provide a sense of its significance?
Analytical tools (theories, concepts): are such identified and explained concisely? Are they effective for its sociological analysis? Are they applied in the analysis?
Analysis of the social issue: is the social issue analyzed, not merely described? Is the analysis effective for understanding the social issue sociologically?
Policy evaluations and recommendations: are they premised on reasonable grounds? Are they drawn from the analysis that took place?
Is the discussion, overall and in its parts, clear, well-written, and organized?
Does the discussion stay on topic?
Does the discussion provide an effective set-up (intro, background/context, theoretical framework) and closing (conclusion) to the analysis of the social issue, and evaluations/recommendations of policy?
Does the discussion meet the length requirement?
Does the discussion exhibit proper citation, referencing and overall formatting?
Some general writing tips (there are more in the course syllabus!)
Page limits are more than just about quantity. Knowing how much space you have guides the writing process and can improve the final product. If your paper is too long, can you re-phrase ideas, make them shorter/more concise? Are there excessive considerations you can just exclude, in the spirit of specificity and focus? If your paper is too short, can you expand on certain things to provide more detail/clarity? Add in more elements to your analysis? Ultimately, these are all considerations for quality.
Pretend your reader is not a sociologist and does not know much about your chosen social issue. This can compel you to seek a strong understanding of what you are writing; and once you get into it, to write clearly, tease out ideas, balance detail with relevance and comprehension (how can you explain the issue without making it too complicated/overwhelming, also given the space limits); not let direct quotes speak for themselves, etc.
See below for an idea of how to structure your paper. NOTE: this is a pretty standard format, which you can adopt for other assignments (hopefully!) For our assignment, you may have to make slight tweaks depending on your chosen topic. As well, you may title these sections differently; as long as the function of each section is clear.
1. Introduction: the ‘big picture’ of your entire paper, informs your reader of what’s to come in the following pages
Introduces the chosen social issue
Thesis statement: your sociological analysis of this social issue, including your chosen theoretical perspective, summarized in 2 or 3 sentences. If you have space, you may briefly identify your ideas for policy.
Brief outline of your paper
Tip: considering the length of this assignment, your introduction should be half or 3/4 a page (double-spaced). If it hits a page or exceeds it, it is too long!
2. Background/context: description of the social issue
Lays out the ‘reality’ of the chosen social issue: who does it impact, what is the scope, etc.
Rationale: why is this issue a ‘problem’? Why is it urgent or important?
· Tip: here is where a majority of your grey literature will go. You can integrate statistics, graphs, or charts.
3. Theoretical framework: the tools you will use to sociologically understand the social issue
An informed definition and explanation of the chosen theoretical framework(s), either single or a combination.
Be specific: which perspectives and elements of the theoretical tradition are you utilizing? What do they highlight about your social issue?
Rationale: why this perspective to understand the social issue?
Tip: You aren’t limited to the sociological theories we discussed at length in this course (ie. critical race theory, Marxist-feminist theory). You are free to use any theory, as long as they are a) sociological, and b) clearly defined, explained, and cited.
4. Analysis: the breakdown of your argument; basically objective A
Breaking down the issue into smaller parts in order to understand the whole (focusing on the ‘trees’ of the ‘forest’ (the ‘forest’ being your thesis statement)).
Apply the sociological imagination, using your chosen analytical tools as you describe in your theoretical framework.
Tip: Length-wise, this is the largest part of your paper. This section may have sub-sections (the ‘trees’ of your argument).
5. Policy evaluations and recommendations
See objective B
6. Discussion/Further or additional thoughts (OPTIONAL)
· This section is for any ‘additional’ or ‘further’ thoughts or unanswered questions that are crucial to understanding the issue sociologically/tackling it practically, that don’t exactly fit in other parts of your paper. This is optional; whether or not you include it does not impact the quality of your paper. Quality comes down to how solid/cohesive your overall discussion is.
· This can be a separate section, either following or preceding policy recommendations; or part of policy recommendations, if your thoughts have implications on what you think policy should look like
7. Conclusion: returning to the ‘forest’
‘Wrapping up’ your argument; a brief re-iteration of your argument, all things considered. Slightly different from your introduction because at this point, the reader is now aware of all the nooks and crannies of your argument, so please do not copy and paste your introduction!
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