The Sociological Perspective

As has been argued throughout the semester, sociology is a way of “seeing things;” a way of focusing on certain aspects of human conduct, taking into account a vast array of social factors and conditions, raising certain questions and then relying on the systematic application of scientific methods – not individual, personalized, impressionistic accounts – to thoroughly investigate a chosen phenomenon. The central idea of this essay – it’s main purpose – is for you to convince me that, used as a guiding framework, the sociological perspective can help you think about and deepen your understanding of the social factors and processes that make up the social world so that you can make better sense of your daily life and interpret broader social issues that confront contemporary society. This essay is comprised of two parts.  In part 1, you will choose one of the theoretical perspectives that sociologists use (structural-functionalist, conflict, symbolic interactionist). After you (1) provide an outline of its main features, its guiding assumptions, and the questions it tends to raise, you will (2) demonstrate how it leads you to focus on aspects of the social world that you haven’t previously considered. In so doing, you will rely upon the assigned and recommended readings, film presentations, and class discussions. Next, you will (3) briefly discuss some of the insights that you have gained from applying the theoretical perspective you have chosen. Again, you will use specific examples. For part 2, you will choose how three specific sociological concepts and, after providing a concise definition of each, indicate how the application of each concept either supplements or dramatically deepens your understanding of the phenomena to which it is applied. As before, you will rely upon the assigned and recommended readings, film presentations, and class discussions to show that you fully understand these concepts. Although this list is not exhaustive, you may consider drawing from it: conflict (how it is built into the fabric of society); status-sets; role-conflict; role strain; ethnocentrism; cultural relativity; multiculturalism; unintended/unanticipated consequences; impression management;  social construction of reality; the interdependence of social institutions; looking-glass-self;  reference groups; institutional discrimination; structurally-induced inequality; feminization of poverty; self-fulfilling prophecy; the Matthew Effect; hidden bias; confirmation bias; the Burke Theorem. Feel free to use other concepts if you prefer. Reminder: By taking a “hands on” approach and applying sociological theories, concepts, and findings to your life and/or contemporary social events, I expect you to demonstrate, in a clear, concise, and orderly manner, that you possess an in-depth understanding of the theoretical perspective and concepts you have chosen, and that the sociological perspective has relevance to your life. Directions: Be certain that your essay addresses both part 1 and part 2. Your essay should be type-written, double-spaced. Use no larger than 1-inch margins and 12-point font.  A cover page should include your name, your student CWID, my name, the course number and section, and date. As to length, I would think that in order to answer these questions satisfactorily you would need a minimum of 750-1,000 words (3-5 typed double-spaced pages).

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