Sociology 250

Fall 2002

First Short Paper (12 points)

Due: October 9, 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 should be three to five double-spaced pages. Most of the paper should be in your own words, although you may wish to use quotes to illustrate your argument. But do not rely on quotes to make the argument for you – I would like to read your explanation of the concepts and ideas. Where you do use quotes or references, these should be properly cited in footnotes or at the end of 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 of Durkheim, Marx, or Weber and demonstrate influences of social change in Europe or Enlightenment thought on his theoretical approach.
  2. Adams and Sydie title the chapter on Durkheim "Society as Sui Generis." Explain what this means and why this is an apt title for Durkheim’s theoretical approach.
  3. Durkheim argues that modern society has a restitutive system of law, indicating organic solidarity. Outline this approach and provide examples of how this characterizes Canadian society today, and where it may be inadequate as an explanation of Canadian society.
  4. Write an essay explaining how suicide is a social fact. Outline Durkheim’s approach and provide an example of how other social facts in Canadian society today might be explained in a similar manner.
  5. Explain what it means when Marx's approach to social analysis is described as "dialectical and historical materialism." (Adams and Sydie, p. 126)
  6. How is surplus value created and how does it expand in Marx's model of capitalism?
  7. Explain the main aspects of Marx's view of alienation, briefly commenting on the sources and consequences of alienation.
  8. Identify the social classes of Marx’s analysis of capitalism. Briefly describe how each of the major social classes forms part of the structure of capitalist society and changes in that structure.
  9. Explain and critique Marx and Engels' view of the family in capitalism.
  10. Explain how Marx’s theoretical approach could be relevant for an analysis of Canadian society today – provide examples and limitations.
  11. Marx and Weber each discussed class. Write an essay outlining the main similarities and differences in the Marxian and Weberian views of class.
  12. How is religion important in Weber’s theory of the emergence of capitalism?

Example internet reference

Durheim, Emile, "Individual and Society,", September 15, 2002

Gingrich, Paul, "Classical Social Theory – II,", September 15, 2002.

Last edited September 15, 2002

Return to Sociology 250