319 – Contemporary Social Theories
First Short Paper
Due: February 13, 2006
Select one of the following topics and
write a short 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 (Adams and Sydie, 2002, p. 14). When citing other sources, use one of the
standard referencing styles and provide a list of references or bibliography of
the sources you have used. While the
notes on the internet are for your use in this class, do not use these notes as
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
- Select an institution with which
you are familiar, other than the family, and analyze it using the action
systems of Parsons (unit act, pattern variables, AGIL).
- “Crime is functional for
society.” Critically analyze this
statement using the approaches of Merton and Parsons.
- Parsons’s analysis of family
structure is somewhat outdated, describing a particular model of a North American family around
the middle of the twentieth century.
Could his action systems model be used to describe other family
structures as functional? Analyze
by referring to a family structure with which you are familiar.
- What do critical theorists mean
when they argue that modern, capitalist, democratic societies are
repressive and totalitarian?
- Write a paper providing examples
of how critical theory uses ideas and approaches from earlier social
theories but develops them in a different way.
- Explain how Habermas considers
communicative action to be a means of overcoming distorted communication
and creating the possibility of human creativity and progress.
- Marcuse titles his analysis
“One-Dimensional Man.” Explain
what he means by this and critically analyze.
- Analyze how Wright incorporates
gender and race, along with new structural developments, to update and
extend a Marxian model of class structure. Evaluate.
- Explain how world systems
theorists build on a Marxian approach to human history but develop a new
approach to historical sociology.
- Write an essay analyzing how the
forces of globalization have been present in different ways at different
stages during modernity. (Focus on
the arguments in Chapters 4 and 6).
- Explain how writers in the
symbolic interaction tradition use and develop a pragmatic approach.
- Select a section of Gender Advertisements by Erving
Goffman (HF5827 G57 1979 – two copies are on three day reserve) and
explain how he uses a symbolic interactionist approach to analyze the
presentation of images of gender.
You could update Goffman’s examples and analysis by selecting some
examples of current advertisements.
Example of how you might cite an
Talcott, “Action Systems and Social Systems.”
1971. Obtained at http://www2.pfeiffer.edu/~lridener/courses/PARSONS2.HTML,
January 16, 2006
edited January 18, 2006