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Introduction to Sociology
SOCI 101 - Morrisville State College
Professor Kurt Reymer
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OPRs (One-Page Reports)


Writing exercises on sociological topics will be assigned during the course. The assignment guidelines are designed to enhance research and writing skills and show your understanding of the themes of sociology that we are covering in the course. They will be graded on a 20-point basis. See the “Late Paper” policy section below regarding late submissions.


One-Page Report #2: Self, Groups, Conformity and Deviance

In part two of the course, we have delved into the process by which we, ourselves, are a product of our society (through processes such as group conformity), but we are also possessed of free-will to go against the social norms and mores that shape our social existence, thereby being deviant. This assignment asks you to discover acts of deviance in the news (or, as I like to call it, the "nightly deviance report").

STEP 1: Find a current article about a crime that has been committed within the past three weeks. Look for language within the article that lends itself to a sociological explanation of the deviant behavior using one or more of the theories of deviance. You should not Google “crime” or “deviance” to find a current events article related to crime and deviance; rather, check reputable online news sources or an actual article about a crime or deviant behavior. There are always major deviant acts each week that make the national and local news

Articles should be a minimum of 500 words, recent (within three weeks), relevant (related to crime, deviance, and social control), and from a reputable news source (check the library website for free access to national news sources, if needed).

STEP 2: Write a thorough summary of the article.

STEP 3: Using your sociological imagination, write an analysis of the article that connects the main idea(s) of the article to specific key terms and theories from the past three chapters on Socialization (Chp 5), Groups (Chp 6), and Deviance (Chp 7), Crime and Social Control.

STEP 4: Be sure you have Included a link to your article, check for any writing errors, and submit your response paper.

Your paper should be one page in length (approximately 250-300 words), double-spaced, 1-inch margins, standard font, and in paragraph form (not just a bullet list response).

You should:
(1) save your work as a PDF file (for MS Word use the "Save as..." feature; for Google Docs, "Download as..."), with the
(2) filename starting with your LAST NAME-OPR2, then
(3) attach the PDF file to me in an email (reymers@morrisville.edu) with the subject line reading OPR2.

OPR 2 DUE end of day Monday, October 25

Rubric

 


One-Page Report #1: FATE VS. FREE WILL

Due Monday September 20 (end of day)

In part one of the course, we are learning what social institutions are -- "the purposeful organization of people into groups and organizations." Universal types of social institutions (that exist in every society, whether small, remote and simple or large, global, and advanced) include Family, Religion, the Economy, Education, and Politics (remember "FREEP").

Other social institutions particularly relevant in American society today might be Sports, Media, Science, or Justice. Remember that "institutions", from a sociological perspective, are abstract concepts -- the term describes the totality of the concrete physical manifestations of them.

So, when talking about social institutions of Sports, for example, we are talking about the totality of all the teams, types, and locations that integrate this meaningful construct into our lives -- from high school football, to professional tennis, from Yankee Stadium (baseball) to Mount Everest (mountain climbing).

An example in the institutions of American Justice include the physical places (like courts, jails and prisons), the social statuses (like police or judge), and the behaviors, some of which are being debated today, such as stop-and-frisk, chokeholds, or jail-cell "suicides." The Institution of Justice correlates ALL of these places, ideas, and behaviors.

So, as you write your paper, I want you to talk about institutions from the abstract Sociological Perspective, not just the concrete personal perspective.

Here's your task for your first one-page report:

Note how we have learned so far that the norms we observe and roles we play within our institutions shape, in part at least, who we are. This means that much of what you do has been "programmed", forlack of a beter term, into you by your institutions. For some, even the deepest beliefs have been inculcated in them by their families, teachers, and/or religious leaders, for instance. This fact reveals that we are not as independent as we think.

This intriduces a particular problem in thinking about the Self <-- --> Society relationship. To what extent are individuals free to pursue whatever they want, their hopes, their dreams, despite the forces of society pushing back on them? You might argue that we are perfectly free and independent of society, but the evidence regarding human behavior -- when you look at it scientifically -- suggests you are wrong.

Discuss in a carefully crafted and edited one-page report your understanding of this issue of FATE VS. FREE WILL. Where do you draw the line between the power you have to express your individuality and independence and the power that society has to get people (even outside of their own awareness) to conform? Give examples of both cases -- the way society impacts your own behavior and how you express your free will despite these social forces.

Note: this is not an opinion paper! Using concrete examples from personal experience, from the news, from other's anecdotes (stories), or elsewhere, you should provide evidence for your claims and write in the "third person" (for example, "It's clear from this evidence that people behave in ways that allow them to be free" rather than "I don't just go along with society.")

Submission Guidelines: Your paper should be one page in length (approximately 250-300 words), double-spaced, 1-inch margins, standard font, and in paragraph form (not just a bullet list response).

IMPORTANT: You should:
(1) save your work as a PDF file (for MS Word use the "Save as..." feature; for Google Docs, "Download as..."), with the
(2) filename starting with your LAST NAME-OPR1, then
(3) attach the PDF file to me in an email (reymers@morrisville.edu) with the subject line reading OPR1.

Due Monday September 20 (end of day)


GRADING RUBRIC:

I will be using the following rubric to grade your paper:
(A) Has the student provided a clear, defined understanding of the abstract nature of social institutions?
(B) Has the student provided a clear example of institutional influence on the individual?
(C) Has the student provided a clear example of independent behavior of the individual?
(D) Has the student discussed in the abstract the dilemma between fate and free will?
(E) Has the student followed the submission guidelines, including paper format and deadline?