Paper Topics: Using Sociological perspective and specifically any of the three theoretical perspectives (functionalism, conflict approach, symbolic interactionism) to discuss any one of the following topics:1. Explore and discuss how the social media (Facebook, twitter ) have changed the way people associate and interact with each other including family life, friends and secondary group relationships (e.g. schoolmates, co-workers, football fans, etc). The pros. And cons of the changes can be included.2. How poverty is explained (you can use the theory Culture of Poverty by Oscar Lewis as a specific part of functionalism). Why does the U.S. have the highest poverty rate of almost all the developed nations?3. Why some groups in America are more successful in education (high schools, colleges—boys vs girls, minority groups vs white students, students of low income families vs those of high income families, private vs public schools in terms of educational achievement and attainment ).4. Any topic on family problems: dating, marriage, divorce, parenting 4-6 pages, double spaced.At least four citations from at least two different sources. (follow the citation format in the textbook).Suggestions and requirements for the paper:1.You need to first select a theory and discuss the major components of the theory, highlighting the part of the theory most relevant to the problem you try to explain (refer to Chapter 1, my lecture notes on theories and research method, and other external resources). Note that you may relate only one or two assumptions of the theory of your selection in your analysis of the problem.(1). For example: functionalism examines how parts are interrelated and contribute to the system operation, the importance of stability and equilibrium; it also emphasizes the role of shared values under which people act. Any change in one part leads to adaptation and change in other parts and even the system. The theory favors adjustment and remedies that make things work, not so much of fundamental changes that may be interrupt the smooth working of the society and life. (2). Conflict theories focus on inequality that results from competition for scarce resources like income and wealth, power and prestige. The system may be faulty in creating and developing social problems which often are part of individual problems. Power is viewed as a major factor which leads to benefits for certain groups at the expenses of those with less power. Changing or reforming the system is seen as among the best solutions to the problems.(3). Symbolic interactionism as a micro-level analysis looks at how realities seen in the eyes of individuals shape people’s attitudes and behavior. Any change in behavior is a result of people’s interpretation of the realities. Communications, symbols, meanings are the key to understanding the world and their own life.2. The second part of the essay should be related to any aspects of the problem you are discussing that can be explained by any of these theories. You do not have to include all of the major components of the theories under discussion. Selecting one or two propositions of the theory and applying them to the problem are acceptable. You need to identify the problem and have a clear thesis in the paper. You may single out one dimension of the problem to have some more depth discussion. It is always helpful to do some literature review of the problem that has been researched.3.It is optional to include some personal observations or experiences relevant to your discussion. But this part should be to illustrate and support your thesis, not to be generalized as one or two cases cannot be generalized to the population.4.Evaluation: the criteria for the paper:A. The brief discussion of the theoryB. Clarity and conceptualization of the thesis.C. Supportive citations, evidence, application.D. Organization of the project—coherence and transition of ideas.F. The quality of writing: including but not limited to grammar, punctuations, expressions .One example of how you can approach the problem:Purposes: Better understanding of the sociological theories by trying to apply them to a real issue (education), and further comprehension of the sociological perspective by focusing on groups differences in educational achievements and attainment.Do some quick library research on group differences or patterns in educational achievements or attainment. The groups could be: gender-boys/girls in high school, or college, racial/ethnic groups: white, black, Hispanic, Asian, natives, children of lower-income v.s. children of higher income families, students from different regions, school districts, cities, states.What differences are you looking at and comparing?SAT scores, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, college graduation rates, math and science scores in comparison to reading and writing scores (high school, SAT, ACT), school drop-out rates, etc. Any measurement of educational achievements and attainment would be good indicators of group differences or differentiation.1. Find one theoretical perspective: functionalism, conflict theories, or symbolic interactionism.Read Chapter 1 again about the discussion of the theories and the lecture notes1 from Chapter 1 to understand the major propositions of the theories.2. Application of the theory you select:Functionalism: how different parts are interrelated—family and education, income and education, history and education (slavery, for instance); how cultural values are related to school—family emphasis on education, tradition (Asians, Hispanics, for instance).Conflict theories: how the educational system is set in such a way as to benefit certain groups more than others (for instance, school funding for lower and higher income areas, curriculum in favor of middle class students, tracking on the basis of testing scores).Symbolic interactionism: the meaning of education may not be the same for families and students, expectations of teachers and parents may make a difference in students performance, peer influence, the practice of tracking and labeling ,etc. This is not a term paper. But still you need to follow the instructions for your work. You need to have at least 3 pages (1.5 spaced). Some simple citations have to be shown in the references in the end.
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