Description from course outline
Choose ONE of the following social problems: unemployment, binge drinking, homelessness.
Choose ONE of the three key sociological perspectives discussed in weeks 2-4 to explain the phenomenon (i.e. functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism).
In your answer, you will need to demonstrate an understanding of the nature and extent of the “problem” before applying your chosen sociological theory to explain the causes and experiences of the problem in society.
Preparing to complete the task
The intent of this task is to encourage students to engage in depth with a particular social problem. In exploring the problem students are encouraged to consider how the problem exists in society, and how theoretical perspectives are able to inform an analysis of the problem. Therefore, in preparing for this task students should read and explore both research articles around the problem as well as mainstream media reporting of the issue over a period of time. Students should develop a broad understanding of the problem particularly within the Australian and Queensland context.
This task expects students to be able to review, interrogate and deconstruct research articles. Further, students need to be able to analyse theoretical positions and use this analysis as a tool to explain social phenomena.
Good theory presents an argument. The argument may be clear or not, logical or not, plausible or not, supported by evidence or not. The point of reading theory is to get the argument and ultimately to figure out how to evaluate it critically. To aid your reading, keep the following questions in mind:
1. What is the purpose of the piece of writing? Is that purpose clear?
2. How is the piece of writing organised? Is it divided clearly into sections or chapters, and does each of these have a clear purpose or play a clear role in presenting an argument?
3. What kind of writing is it? Different kinds of writing offer different challenges and opportunities.
4. Who is the intended audience? This is rarely you and I. For example, Durkheim and Weber write for a scholarly audience. Weber apparently imagined an audience who had read just about everything he had. Freud wrote for a
general educated audience, but ones located respectively in mid-19th century Europe. Marx and Engels wrote for radical philosophers, revolutionaries, and the working class (as they imagined it). Social theorists often write for themselves as an attempt to understand their own thinking.
5. What does a piece of writing take for granted? That is, what does the author assume their intended readers know and don’t know?
Writing the task response
The response must be written in proper academic language and form. That is, whilst it does not need complex language, necessarily, it should be written in a formal style with clear layout, order and logic. Students are encouraged to refer to their notes and learning from 1201QBT Academic and Professional Skills for more guidance around this.
The response is an analysis; therefore, it should have a clear introduction, body and conclusion, and must present a coherent argument and position across the whole paper. Students are advised to use a template, similar to that provided in 1201QBT, to plan and guide their writing.
It is an expectation that sources that are used in this response are properly referenced using APA 6th edition style. Guides for APA 6th edition are available through Griffith University library as well as other sources. Responses that are not referenced correctly may be considered to be plagiarised.
Starting the task: Three key steps
1. First, you need to select one of the three suggested social problems in Australian context.
2. Second, you will then search for the appropriate sources (authoritative sources) which will help you describe and frame the selected problem.
3. Third, you select one of the three sociological theories covered in this course, which you will need to properly explain before applying it. This will help you construct your main argument(s) which you need to point out at the very start of your essay. In addition, you need to continuously relate the information you present back to this argument throughout the rest of your essay.
When applying theory, you need to first explain the theory. Here you need to use academic sources to define key theoretical concepts and demonstrate the understanding of theory. It does not matter which theoretical perspective you choose to apply. What does matter is how well you argue your case. Do not simply describe your selected theoretical position. You need to make arguments (come up with three or four main points) that support your discussion and back these up with appropriate research (empirical) evidence. You need to keep in mind that when using empirical evidence to support your claims you need (i) a brief study description (e.g. number of participants, measures used), (ii) the key study findings (relevant to your argument) and (iii) the link back to the essay argument.
Throughout your essay you need to use at least 10 authoritative sources. This means you have to research widely and you can begin your search with the set readings provided. These were selected because they are directly relevant to the course content, so do not neglect them.
Today, a great deal of research can be done via the Internet, however you need to be selective in what you use. The two main sources of information you need to use for your essay are as follows:
– Online journals: This is probably the best source. Griffith library gives you access to an extensive collection of journals and you should be using this as your primary source.
– Recognised institutions: Most government departments and research bodies (e.g. Australian Bureau of Statistics) put their publications on the web.
Please do NOT use:
– The open web: You will find information on almost anything by simply ‘googling’ it. This is a very poor source of information and should not be used in academic writing. In most cases you have no guarantee that the information is accurate (e.g. Wikipedia).
Often the difference between a good and a poor essay is not what is said, but how well it is said. Essay structure is an important part of the essay. The following are some simple tips and rules that can greatly improve your essay.
A good introduction is crucial. To navigate through an unfamiliar essay, the reader needs a map or instructions that highlight the points of interest and guide them safely to the end. Your introduction is a brief summary of your essay. It must do the following:
– Set out the problem to be addressed;
– Highlight the main arguments to be made;
– Provide an explicit plan of the essay (the order in which you will present information);
– Provide a direct answer to the question.
You must give serious thought to the order in which you present your information. There needs to be a logic to it – you cannot just present information in a random order. A discussion needs to be well structured and the structure should be obvious to the reader. Keep telling your reader what you are up to.
Make sure you set out a clear plan in your introduction and then follow that structure in your discussion. Use ‘signposts’ to emphasise that you are following the plan (e.g. The second argument is…). Do not write too short or too long paragraphs (longer than 2 sentences, no longer than half a page). Each paragraph should have a topic sentence and should only discuss one idea.
Your conclusion is a brief summary of the essay. Do not introduce any new information, and certainly do not leave your answer to the question until the conclusion.
Your assignment needs to be written in 12-point font (usually Times New Roman font), with at least a 3cm margin, double or one and a half line spacing (single line spacing is used for quotes when these are separated and indented), and each page needs to be numbered.
No title page is required but please include the following information as a header/footer or at the end of your essay.
– student name and number
– course number
– course name
– due date
– assignment item number and type
– tutor name
– word count
Submitting the task:
Students will submit the completed task via Turnitin.
To submit to Turnitin students must create an account at www.turnitin.com and then gain access the to the 1008CCJ class submission space. Login information will be provided in class.
If students have difficulty submitting on time or require an extension they should complete the Deferred Assessment form with appropriate evidence and speak with the Course Coordinator about this issue.
Marking the task:
The task will be assessed using the marking rubric on the following page.