For this essay you will write about a controversial topic that is of sociological importance and
of interest to you. For example, you can write on specific issues within the broad category of
education, culture, crime, race, class, gender, family, and so forth. The assignment requires
that you conduct library research to find sources of information to base your arguments on.
As such you will rely on sociological journals and books for your research material.
PURPOSE AND TOPIC CHOICE
This paper should present an argument on a social issue that motivates you and that generally
interests you. The goal of the paper is to learn as much as you can about a specific
sociological issue. You will do this through critically analyzing an issue from a sociological
standpoint by building on the theories, concepts, and other sociological ideas from class and
incorporating evidence from the literature to support your arguments. You can investigate the
societal pros and cons of a particular issue (e.g., abortion). Or you can take a side on an issue
(e.g., the role of prisons in our society). If you want, you can offer a solution to a problem
(e.g., how to end poverty or homelessness). If you find that you are having difficulty
choosing your topic, feel free to ask for suggestions.
You should present a well-written, thoughtful, and analytical paper that is supported with
scholarly evidence from books and academic journals. You should incorporate pertinent
material (e.g., theories, concepts) discussed in class in your essay. You also must provide
material from sources outside of the classroom, such as journal articles and books. The
number of outside sources you must have is three. You cannot use newspapers, magazine
articles, or sources from the Internet to complete this project.
The essay will be approximately 5 pages long (excluding title page and bibliography). It must
be typed, double-spaced, have the pages numbered, use headings to separate sections, and use
1” (2.54 cm) margins. You should use a standard 12 point font (e.g., Times New Roman).
You should write in the first person using the active voice. As a formal paper, though, you
should not use slang, or use contractions such as “I’m,” “you’re,” etc. You will be expected
to conform to American Sociological Association (ASA) style when writing this paper.
Your paper should include the following components:
(1) Title Page: The title page should include the following elements: assignment name,
paper title, professor’s name, course, your name, student ID, and date.
(2) Introduction: The introduction to your paper should include: an opening paragraph
that presents your research question and thesis statement, and captures the reader’s
attention; details on why the topic is sociologically relevant; a synopsis of other
researchers’ findings; and, an overview of your paper which summarizes your
conclusion. It should be no longer than 1 page.
(3) Body: The body of your essay will describe and evaluate the issue you have chosen in
an in-depth fashion. You should answer the following questions in this section: Why
is the issue sociologically important? What does prior research on the topic find?
What evidence, theories, or reasoning do different researchers give to support their
stances? What are the strengths and weaknesses of arguments made by researchers?
(4) Conclusion: This section should be used to briefly summarize the main points and
arguments and detail the conclusions that you have drawn from the research. In
particular, you will want to indicate how what you have presented supports your
thesis statement. Other items that should be mentioned in the conclusion include:
What could you not cover in this paper? What are some related side issues that could
be explored further? And, depending on your topic, what are some solutions to a
problem you analyzed?
(5) Bibliography: Your bibliography presents a listing of sources cited in your paper. Be
sure to only include those sources you referenced in your paper. The bibliography
must conform to ASA style.
The assignment will be graded according to the following criteria: Is the topic sociologically
relevant? Are the research question and thesis stated clearly enough? Is the paper well
organized allowing readers to easily follow the structure of the essay and flow of ideas? Has a
strong argument been made by incorporating persuasive supporting material? Is the writing
style clear with sentences free of spelling and grammatical errors? Is the paper properly
formatted (e.g., title page, double-spaced, pages numbered)? Is supporting material properly
introduced and cited in the text and bibliography? While the content is the most important
component, writing style, spelling, and grammar can add or detract from your argument. Be
sure to proofread your paper thoroughly before handing it in.
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