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The first line of your paper should state an argument that the reader can either agree or disagree with. I expect and require that your first sentence of your paper begins I argue thatSeveral of the reading and associated presentations discuss how society has changed over time (e.g. Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Tonnies, Simmel, and Sahlins). Discuss these various arguments and how you feel about that theorized changes. To what degree do you feel these changes are positive or negative? Which of these theories seem to reflect changes you see in our society, and which seem misguide or inaccurate? There are various readings and associated presentations that are critical of capitalism (e.g. Marx and Sahlins), and others that are pro-capitalist (Davis & Moore and Rand). Discuss these various theories and provide your informed judgment of this debate.

The best papers will critically engage the relevant ideas presented on this topic. While relating to these questions on a personal level is encouraged, I also want to see you weave in a discussion of the readings that reflects your close reading of the assigned material and thoughtful reflection of the ideas presented in class.  Advice for Written Work

At the most basic level, your written work should demonstrate that you have read and critically thought about the assigned readings or videos.

The best papers will reflect a critical reaction to the readings.  This means the paper will demonstrate in depth analysis of the issues being discussed, a synthesis of the various sources, and/or an informed judgment of the relevant issues/debates.  These three general requirements are discussed in more detail below:

1) In-depth analysis involves critically reflecting upon the readings.  This is not simply summarizing the readings, but discussing them in a critical way.  What are the central arguments?  What are the strengths and weaknesses in the claims made?  Are their any logical errors in the arguments presented?

2) Synthesis involves making connections between multiple sources.  This is the easiest way to show me you have thought critically about the readings.  Sociological works are typically contributions to a conversation.  What is the conversation the assigned readings are part of?  Is there a debate?  What are the competing arguments in the debate?  How are the findings and/or theories of various sources related to each other?  As the course progresses, you will have an increasingly large set of sources to draw upon as you develop such syntheses, so strong students will keep past readings in mind as they read new material.

3) Informed judgment is the statement of the authors position backed up with supporting evidence or argument.  This is not simply the authors opinion.  Tell me what you think, and why you think it.  Is your position related to any debates within the literature?



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