Essay: sociology essay


Sociological Memoir

Final Paper DUE DATE: Last day of instruction

Only Typewritten Papers Accepted


8-10 pages minimum Double Spaced – Times Roman 12pt


Assignment Description and Instructions:


The sociological imagination challenges one to see how an individual biography is shaped by the larger social contexts of the moment in history—including culture, social relations, economy, opportunity structures, and social institutions. This Sociological Imagination Memoir project asks you to analyze your own life from a sociological perspective. An example of this kind of analysis is represented in the memoir/book Honky, in which sociologist Dalton Conley contextualizes his own life experiences focusing on race and class as powerful forces which shaped his childhood and educational attainment in comparison with the other children from his neighborhood.


For your memoir, you should (1) develop a core issue or theme from your life that you will focus on using a sociological lens (some examples are educational experiences or attainment, peer groups, opportunity structures, taken-for-granted culture, work experiences, growing up in a rural or urban setting, an important element of your identity or experience in your life, etc.), and (2) discuss this theme in a specific period of your life (childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood.) Your aim in this project is to put your life in its broader historical, structural and/or cultural context. How has your life experience been shaped by the broader society in which you live, and by your social position in that society?


Although the theme of your memoir is up to you, there are specific requirements for your analysis. In using a sociological lens to analyze your life you should develop a discussion of your social class, either race/ethnicity or gender, and one other issue or institution we have covered in class.



  • GENDER OR RACE/ETHNICITY—Apply the sociological insights you have gained from our readings and discussions of race/ethnicity and gender to discuss your own experiences, opportunities, and/or identity. How has the social construction of gender/race and/or gender/racial inequality affected your everyday life, your life chances, and your aspirations? In considering these questions, you might start by comparing your experiences to someone from a different generation, a different culture, or a different gender or race.
  • SOCIAL CLASS—Describe how your social class background has shaped the social contexts of your life pertaining to your theme or core issue of focus. Some questions to consider are: How has class limited or enhanced your life chances and access to important goods in society? How has class shaped the communities you have lived in and the institutions you have had access to? How has class affected your social networks, cultural capital, lifestyles, and worldviews? Be sure to draw on your Census homework to contextualize your life in terms of both the objective and subjective dimensions of class.

􀂙 ADDITIONAL COURSE ISSUE—You should choose and discuss in your paper at least 1 of the following issues that we cover in this course: family, politics, religion, socialization, presentation of self, immigration, deviance and crime, social movements/activism, sexuality, education, groups or organizations, social networks, bureaucracy, urbanization, work and the economy (you may write about more than 1 of these if you wish, and any of these may be used as a core theme if you wish).

􀂙 COURSE MATERIALS—To develop your analysis, you should use at least four course concepts and draw on at least three course readings in your papers (although you may include more). Cite the page number and reading author or lecture date for course concepts e.g. (Conley 2012, 112).

􀂙 DATA AND EVIDENCE—Your paper should include specific data or evidence drawn from course materials, homework, or other sources that help to support your argument or serve to make connections between your life experiences and larger patterns in society (for example, census data, school district data, occupation gender distribution, year of a changed law that has impacted your life opportunities, and so forth). Be sure to cite sources in text and on a reference page.

􀂙 Include a reference page at the end of the paper that includes course materials cited, as well as any other sources that you use.


Evaluation Criteria:

Your papers will be evaluated based upon how well you incorporate course ideas, materials and specific readings into your papers; how well you demonstrate your understanding of course material; how well you contextualize your life in its broader social, cultural, and/or historical context using specific evidence from the course material and other appropriate sources; the strength of your thesis or organizing theme and how well you support it throughout the paper; and your success at crafting a well-written, thoughtful and interesting paper. Evaluation Criteria Sociological Memoir Final Paper

(evaluation based on inclusion of required elements listed below and quality of each element)

Possible Actual
Strength of a clear organizing theme or thesis and success at developing and supporting it throughout the paper. 10
Paper seriously and thoughtfully discusses how social class has influenced your life experiences and life chances. Evidence is drawn from course materials or other sources to contextualize this aspect of the memoir within broader social, historical or cultural forces. Clear connections to relevant course material are made. 15
Paper seriously and thoughtfully discusses how race and/or ethnicity or gender has influenced your life experiences and life chances. Evidence is drawn from course materials or other sources to contextualize this aspect of the memoir within broader social, historical or cultural forces. Clear connections to relevant course material are made. 15
Paper thoughtfully discusses at least one other course issue and the role it has had in your life and makes clear connections to relevant course materials and themes. 15
As a whole, paper seriously engages with relevant course concepts and course readings/materials to develop analysis (at minimum 3 course readings/materials and 4 course concepts should be discussed). 15
As a whole, memoir contextualizes author’s life within larger social, historical or cultural forces. Specific and adequate evidence is used to do this. 15
Paper is well written, thoughtful and interesting. 12
Paper includes required citations, reference page. 3
Total Points Possible 100


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