Sociological Foundation Assignment 2: Major Essay
In this assignment, there is an opportunity to apply the skills you have developed so far to the researching and writing of an extended essay. The focus of the essay is to consider a topical social issue, and to ask the central question – why is this happening? To answer this, you will need to consider a range of sociological explanations. The issues covered in the topics are in some sense a problem for society. Thus in your essay, we also want you to consider how your explanations might be used as a basis for thinking about appropriate remedies, policies, changes to practice etc.
In this way, you are being asked to think about how sociology as a discipline can be used to effect change in the world, and ultimately to bring about some betterment of society, and of people’s experiences of life.
You need to include at least 9 ‘academic’ references in your essay.
Choose one of the topics below (NOTE: You should choose a topic that is substantially different from what you covered in Assignment 1 (Academic writing exercise).
Topic 1: Domestic violence
Domestic violence is now seen as a very pressing social issue. The Victorian government recently (2015) instituted a Royal Commission into the issue. What sociological explanations can be offered for this phenomenon? Which of these do you find the most persuasive? Why?
What social remedies might stem from the explanation you favour? (i.e. if you were given the opportunity, what recommendations would you put to the Victorian inquiry on the basis of your analysis).
Topic 2: Pornification of media content
Pornification of the social world has become a particularly pernicious form of media content. It is not only apparent in raw form as pornography on the WWW but also in various social media feeds, in advertising, discussed in the popular press and as a part of music videos. Why is this happening? What sociological explanations can you suggest for the phenomenon? How might these differ from a freedom of expression issue? In adopting a sociological perspective to the issue, how is it identified as a sociological issue and what do you think are some social measures that could be adopted to deal with the problem?
Topic 3: Religious fundamentalism
It has been suggested that the rise of globalisation has been accompanied by a rise of religious fundamentalism in different parts of the world. How might different sociologists account for this phenomenon? Which explanation(s) do you find more plausible? Why? Drawing on this analysis – if you were approached to advise an international body (such as the UN) about some of the concerns and threats around this issue, what would be the key to your recommendation?
Topic 4: ‘Bogan’, class and status
Use of the term ‘bogan’ is an interesting and complex one in society. Some people are desperate to avoid such a label, while others are most happy to embrace it. How would sociologists explain attitudes to this type of labelling? Do these account for the sensitivities around the issue of social status, do you think? Do these explanations have a bearing on your views about use of the term? Explain.
Topic 5: Asylum seekers
Over the last decade the situation of asylum seekers has been a central issue in Australian politics and society. Such is the concern that both the major political parties have found it necessary to try to outdo each with the toughness of their policies in this area. How would sociologists explain the obsession and fears the community has had with this issue? What underlying processes and impulses seem to be at play? Drawing on your analysis, what might be done to make the issue less of a source of anxiety and divisiveness in Australian society?
Topic 6: Effects of social media
In the space of only a decade, social media has become an integral part of life for almost everyone in contemporary Australia. But accompanying this development are concerns about what is altered, neglected, or lost in our lives as a result. How might sociologists explain the hold social media seems to have on us? Is there a problem here? What advice would you give in response to concerns about the effects of social media – you might choose to affirm these concerns or reject them. Is switching off an option?
Assignment 3: Reflective essay: 1000 words
In this assignment, you will apply your understanding of sociological concepts that we have presented to you this semester to your own life experience and personal identity.
Choose one of the following social factors that has played a significant role in shaping your personal identity: race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality, age, religion, media, consumption, or social class. The task is to explain how the selected social factor has influenced your identity, that is, your experiences, choices, expectations, life chances, attitudes, morality, values, and worldview. If you’d like to choose a social factor other than the ones listed above, you need to confirm it with your tutor.
Seek to apply sociological theory and/or concepts that are relevant to the social factor shaping your life experiences. For example, if you choose race/ethnicity, you may apply relevant sociological concepts such as: racism, ethnocentrism, and cultural relativism. Make sure you define the key concepts. You need to cite at least 4 ‘scholarly’ sources in your essay; citations could be used for definitions (e.g. definition of ‘social identity’), and in explaining the relationship between the social factor and identity in a more general sense. For instance, if your social factor is sexuality, then you need to find sources that address the relationship between sexuality and personal identity, comparing their findings with your own life experience. Please note that this is to be a sociological essay and not a biography, so try to use analytical language, not emotive.
Please note: This essay is meant as a reflective exercise only and we do not wish for you to focus upon anything that may be uncomfortable for you to discuss.
Swinburne Library’s referencing tool with examples for Harvard, APA and AGLC3.