As this is a 2000-level course, I have made every effort to incorporate a challenging, though reasonable, composition component in the form of a “term paper.” To be clear, this component is NOT a “research paper,” but instead an interpretive paper modeled after writing formats found within sociology. That is, where research papers require a great amount of methodological training, time to conduct research and analytical skills specific to the discipline, a term paper, by contrast, will focus on a single topic associated with the design and objectives of the course, drawing upon literature and other materials introduced in the course, and executed through analysis that is framed within theories, interpretive models and various perspectives also introduced in the course. In full understanding of the limited time we have for this summer session, I have streamlined the directions for this paper as follows: In this term paper, you will explore a topic of your choice that is directly related to the intersection between race and inequality. This does not necessarily suggest that there must be some ‘causal’ relationship between race and inequality (i.e. the former ‘causes’ the later), yet there should be some interactional relationship (i.e. inequality is augmented by race; an understanding of race may reduce inequality; etc.). Your challenge will be to argue for how such relationships materialize, as well as the sociological implications generated by it. There are no explicit strategies for writing this term paper, however, I would like you to consider some of the following that will help you to conceptualize my expectations of your output: Definitive Strategies As the name suggests, definitive strategies refer to thoroughly defining a given topic or distinguishing among the many different definitions of the topic under exploration. Definitive strategies are typically objective and allow for little or no analysis; instead, the merits of the definitive strategy rest almost entirely upon how well the author surveys the different perspectives on a given definition. Although this may sound a bit encyclopedic, it must still adopt a theoretical perspective through which the definitive strategy can be executed. Interpretive Strategies Interpretive strategies are relatively common in sociology. In general, they focus on a case study that can be interpreted through a particular theoretical perspective. Basically, interpretive strategies use a theoretical perspective to guide an exploration of a topic (case study) and then substantiate an interpretation of that topic by providing some evidence relevant to sociology. Juxtaposition Strategies Juxtaposition strategies typically explore a topic by comparing and contrasting two sides of an argument. In this strategy, it is not enough to simply state the two arguments, but also demonstrate the merits or demerits of both sides. Here again, a theoretical framework must be used to guide the exploration. Position Strategy Unlike the others listed above, position strategies are characterized by argument, which means that the author needs to state a position in favor of or against another argument. Although it is important to be balanced in explaining the different positions early in the paper, position strategies will often emphasize the author’s subjective argument throughout. Here, once again, a theoretical framework must be used to guide the exploration. Any Other Strategy As I know writing is an ongoing process and takes time, trial and error, I’m open to any other form of writing that you see fit in generating your output, as long as a theoretical framework is included. Regardless of which strategy you choose (or combinations thereof), these term papers must include the following components: Abstract Introduction Literature Review Discussion Conclusion Reference List (ASA STYLE GUIDE) Technical Requirements In addition to the preparation sessions, here are some quick references to help get each of you started. Font: 12-Point / New Times Roman Margins: 1 inch all around Double-spaced Paper Size: 8.5×11 Length: 5-6 pages, including abstract, notes and reference list Exclusions: boldface, underlining, special symbols, larger heading fonts, and double-spacing after punctuation Identifying a Research Topic Despite the appeal any given topic may present, it is important that you first consider a number of factors that should inform your decision. To begin, there is a time consideration: after today, you will have roughly 4 weeks to explore your topic and get it into presentable shape for submission. Additionally, do remember that you also have other courses, perhaps some considerable social engagements on campus, and your personal lives that can generate strain on your time. Please plan ahead for this so that you have a comfortable semester in meeting all of your obligations. Your next consideration is whether or not you can use parts (or all of this paper) for another class. If there is a similar assignment and you can find enough overlap in terms of topics, please, by all means, make the connections necessary to write both papers intertextually. That said, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to provide assistance to anyone for an assignment from another class. Please keep that in mind if you do choose to do so. More, I am NOT advocating, nor giving you permission to submit this paper in the satisfaction of another assignment in any other class. Another consideration is how much interest you have in the topic. It’s important that you identify a topic that you won’t become bored with. Don’t worry about what topic you think might impress me, as much as how impressed I’ll be with your overall output. Again, it is so important that you identify a topic that will draw your interest to it, otherwise this will become a sore point in the course. Finally, you’ll need to consider whether or not you know enough about the topic, or are willing to invest time in learning more about the topic during the next dozen or so weeks. For example, if you know nothing about racism in Mongolia, it’ll be hard to cram with a crash course on this while still keeping up with the course. It’s best to identify with something that you already have some basic understanding of, and then jump! Managing Research Questions Research questions are NOT the same as research topics. Where the latter is more general, the former is more particular. Two of the biggest mistakes in coming up with good research questions are that students are either trying to impress the instructor with questions that are heady and incomprehensible, or conversely, students make these questions too simple and have little potential to generate quality content. By way of a strategy to create quality research questions related to race and inequality, ask yourself what controversy, problem or potential issues arise from a given topic, and then ask a second question about how that controversy, problem or potential issue is related to race and inequality. For example, let’s take the topic of race and incarceration (very generally). You may ask who serves to gain and lose from incarceration and how race has manifestly or latently figured into such gains and losses? Or what markets—formal, informal, illegal, etc.—can be exploited through incarceration related to race? You may even be interested in something more micro in orientation, like how the personal experience of an individual (as a case study) experiences incarceration in relation to race.
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