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Sociology – Development of Social Thought:
Foundations of Classical Sociological Theory
Paper Format:

  1. Length: 9 typed pages.  Please include 1 additional Reference page.
  2. Format and font: double-spaced, standard font (Times Roman), size 12.

This course has offered an introduction to the sociological views of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber.  One of the primary goals of this course was to examine views and concepts of the classical sociological theorists and how their theories provide frameworks for theorizing society and social and cultural issues.  By familiarizing ourselves with these founding theorist’s views, we develop an appreciation for how they contribute to social and cultural interpretation.
In this final essay you are asked to apply the views of these three theorists to two contemporary societal issues: abortion and immigration.
Abortion and Immigration: These two issues are currently in the news, and they represent intense concerns, arguments, and debates. They are not simple problems.  There is much in each, but you will need to select a few themes out of the many so that your efforts are focused.  The topics tap into broad passions and contradictory perspectives.  They call forth strong feelings, and for this reason they refract important aspects of the larger society.
Questions to Address:
How might Marx, Durkheim, and Weber see these two issues?  In what ways would they offer distinctly different viewpoints?  Would this amount to basic disagreements with regard to their accounts?  If so, explain.  On the other hand, might there be views that have similar concerns, even though they might use different terms and language?  If so, what might those be?  Do you think one of them has a better framework for how to view these problems?  If so, state your reasons for why you think one offers a more helpful view.
Option for Your Focus:
You have an option of (1) focusing on either abortion or immigration (chose one), or (2) discuss both abortion and immigration.  Be sure to address the questions raised above; addressing the questions above.
Preparing Your Essay.
This is a short piece of writing (9 pages).  A strong and coherent essay will need to achieve care and focus, treating the comparison and/or contrasting of the theorists.  Be sure in your discussion to show evidence of engaging the readings (do more than summarize lecture slides).   It is helpful to first outline your key points, and give balance to the points you want to present.  In preparing for your essay please consider these guidelines.

  1. Develop your summary of what is important for each theorist (foundational, essential), what terms they use for what matters, and how they situate their fundamental propositions for their view of society.  It is strategically good to select the key concepts and terms early in your writing plan, then demonstrate your understanding of them, as you turn toward using them—showing how they apply—in your analysis.
  2. Considering the theorists, how do their founding ideas shed light on the problems you address?
  3. Comparison and/or Contrast: To what extent might each theorist suggest very different interpretations?
  4. Are there ways in which you would find them compatible and in some possible agreement?
  5. Given your discussion, do you think one of the theorists has a stronger and more convincing framework?  If so, why?