Writing Assignment – “The History of an Idea” Below is a list of key concepts t

Writing Assignment – “The History of an Idea”
Below is a list of key concepts that are analyzed in this class. Your assignment is to select one
and, in a five to six-page, double-spaced paper, research its significance by conducting a
literature review. Critically analyze the concept in a brief essay which clearly examines the
meaning of the concept as it has been defined and interpreted by different theorists. Your
analysis should begin with a review of the concept from the perspective of the theorist studied in
this class. For instance, if you decide to analyze the concept of “positivism,” begin your analysis
with a summary of August Comte’s understanding of the concept, and then in the remainder of
the paper explore the origins (intellectual roots) of the concept (i.e., before Comte), and the
subsequent development of the concept (i.e., after Comte). If you wish to write on a course
concept that is not on the list, please ask the instructor for permission.
You are required to employ at least six published sources in your analysis of a concept.
Your sources should include a sample of studies that are published in reputable journals or
books, and authored by different social theorists. Be advised that most of the theories presented
in this class are part of on-going theoretical debates between different schools of thought within
sociology. Your analysis should summarize and review these publications within the larger
context of these debates (when relevant).
The papers will be graded according to the following criteria: 1) The ability to articulate a
clear and concise understanding of the concept presented in the course; 2) The ability to find
sources within the literature that have a close bearing on the concept; 3) The ability to compare
and contrast (in writing) the ideas and claims of the different theorists.
Since the page limit is short, keep quotes brief; no long passages in quotes. If you quote someone
or make allusions to their ideas in your paper, place their name, the publication year of the work,
and the page number in a parenthetical statement like thus: (Jepson, 2018: p.156). A full citation
of the work should be made in the bibliography at the end of the paper. The instructor and TAs
will discuss paper ideas and proposals, but will not read or review draft papers. A hard copy of
the paper is due in lecture on or before the last day of class, Thursday, June 2. No late papers or
on-line submissions please.
Sources must be from the following sociologists’ articles/books:
Tocqueville, Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Du Bois and/or Veblen.
For the topic of alienation, we know that the main sociologists to have talked about this topic are Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx.
Attached to this are the documents that were given to the students about these two sociologists.
List of Concepts
democratic (administrative) despotism
urbanism/blasé attitude
tyranny of the majority
commodity fetishism
conspicuous consumption
social facts
division of labor
collective representations
iron cage
social Darwinism
social differentiation
collective conscious
Protestant Ethic
primitive totemism
tragedy of culture
ideal types
iron law of oligarchy
gemeinschaft and gesellschaft
collective effervescence
charismatic leadership
leisure class

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