Sociology 319

Winter 2003

First Paper  (15 points)

Due: February 7, 2003


Select one of the following topics and write a paper on this topic.  If you wish to select a different topic, check with me first.  The paper is to be approximately five printed double-spaced pages. 


Do not rely on quotes to make the arguments for you, and explain concepts and ideas in your own words.  Where you do use quotes or references, these should be properly cited.  If you use only the text, this may be cited like (Turner, p. 47).   When using other sources, complete citations should be provided in footnotes or at the end of the paper in one of the standard referencing styles.  Provide a bibliography of the sources you have used.  While the notes on the internet and on reserve in the University Library are for your use in this class, do not use these notes for specific reference sources for the paper.   


Avoid using "man" and "he" in the generic sense, except where they are part of a direct quote.  Otherwise, if you use "man" or "he" I will assume you are referring to males only.



  1. Select one or more of Weber, Parsons, Giddens, or Goffman and explain how a theory that focuses on individual action can also explain social structures.
  2. “It would be difficult to overstate Weber’s accent on meaning” (Cohen in Turner, p. 76).  Building on this, explain and critique Weber’s approach to social action.
  3. Explain how both praxis and subjective consciousness are concepts that appear in Mead’s approach.
  4. Provide one or more examples of situations or experiences that illustrate social performance.  Explain how these relate to Goffman’s dramaturgical approach. 
  5. Explain how writers in the symbolic interaction tradition use and develop a pragmatic approach.
  6. Explain how rational choice theory can be considered to come from Weber, but at the same time differs from the approach of Weber.
  7. Ethnomethodology and symbolic interaction perspectives differ in their approach.  Explain how these perspectives differ.
  8. Select one of the articles or readings handed out or on the internet or reserve desk at the Library, summarize its arguments, and show how the article illustrates relevant ideas presented in the text or in class.


  1. In Cities of the Plain, p. 195, a 1998 novel by Cormac McCarthy, one of the characters makes the comment below.  Relate the ideas in this quote to the theories of action and praxis discussed in class.

Men speak of blind destiny, a thing without scheme or purpose.  But what sort of destiny is that?  Each act in this world from which there can be no turning back has before it another, and it another yet.  In a vast and endless net.  Men imagine that the choices before them are theirs to make.  But we are free to act only upon what is given.  Choice is lost in the maze of generations and each act in that maze is an enslavement for it voids every alternative and binds one every more tightly into the constraints that make a life.


Example internet reference

Durheim, Emile, “Individual and Society,”, September 15, 2002


Paul Gingrich

January 10, 2003

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