Sociology 250

Fall 2002

Second Short Paper  (12 points)

Due:  November 22, 2002


Choose one of the following topics and write a short paper on this topic.  If you wish to select a different topic, discuss this with the class instructor first.  The paper is to clearly explain and discuss the topic chosen.  If appropriate, you may want to include a short critique of views and approaches you are discussing or examples from Canadian society. 


The paper is to be three to five double-spaced pages.  Most of the paper is to be in your own words, although you may wish to use quotes to illustrate your argument.  Do not rely on quotes to make the argument for you – I would like to read your explanation of the concepts and ideas.  Provide references for any quotes or sources used and cite these in footnotes or at the end of the paper.  A reader of the paper should be able to find all sources used in the paper.


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



1.           Explain how the analysis of Weber, Simmel, Mead, or one of the other theoretical approaches discussed in this part of the semester could be relevant for an analysis of some aspect of Canadian society today.  Explain the theoretical approach of the author and provide examples and limitations from the contemporary situation.

2.           Marx and Weber each discussed class.  Write an essay outlining the main similarities and differences in the Marxian and Weberian views of class.

3.           How is religion important in Weber’s theory of the emergence of capitalism?

4.           “Rationalization plays the same role within Weber's theoretical system that the division of labour does within Durkheim’s theoretical approach.”  Comment on and critique this statement. 

5.           Suppose Marx had been able to return to write a review of Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.  Write this review.

6.           Simmel and Weber each discuss social action and interaction.  Explain and compare their approaches.

7.           For Simmel, “the overarching form of social interaction is exchange” (Adams and Sydie, p. 206).  Explain.

8.           Select one of more of the classical theorists (Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Mead) and write a feminist critique of their theoretical approach.

9.           Explain how symbols and understanding constitute an important part of Mead’s approach to mind, self, and society.

10.       Blumer argues “Sociological thought rarely recognizes or treats human societies as composed of individuals who have selves.”  Write an essay explaining Blumer’s argument and outlining how he attempts to correct this approach.

11.       Goffman notes that “role distance is almost as much subject to role analysis as are the core tasks of roles themselves.”  Explain how role performance and role distance form part of social interaction.

12.       Select one or more sets of the photographs in Gender Advertisements and write an essay relating these to Goffman’s approach.  (As you discuss the photographs, identify the numbers of the photographs you are discussing).

13.       Explain how Hochschild’s discussion of emotion feeling and emotion work extends and modifies the approach of earlier symbolic interactionists.

14.       Explain the five pattern variables of Parsons (Adams and Sydie, p. 351) and provide an example or examples of how they can be used to analyze a social system.


Last edited November 15, 2002

Return to Sociology 250