SOC 320B: CLASSICAL SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY
Exam Paper 2. Applying Theory Today
DUE: Friday, Dec. 11 (Change in due date!)
For this exam, you will choose a contemporary event or issue and explain it using concepts from two
theorists. Use the concepts to explain why this event/issue exists, how does it affect people/society,
what to do about it, etc. You can write about the recent election, cancel culture, low-wage work, caring
for the elderly, gay marriage, etc. Importantly, your exam should be guided by a thesis that presents
which theorists best explains your chosen current event.
For ideas on a contemporary event or issue, look at this website: https://www.procon.org/
Note. The website is useful for debates, which is not the aim of this paper! This is just to provide you
with some contemporary issues in US society.
• One of the theorists must be different from Exam Paper 1.
• Do not explain all of the theorists’ concepts; rather, choose one or two concepts from each theorists
that best explain the contemporary event or issue.
• Focus on what aspect of the event/issue the theorists would explain. For example, Marx would
usually look at how the event/issue connects to means of production, while Durkheim would
examine the role of cohesion or lack of cohesion.
• Research your current event so that you can speak about it knowledgeably. You can use newspapers
articles and organization reports for background information. Be sure to cite properly using ASA
• However, the majority of your paper should be focused on explaining the current event according to
the sociological concepts. Do not spend more than one page providing background information.
• This is an exam. As an exam, my main concern is that you understand and apply the concepts
correctly and comprehensively. Unclear or incorrect explanations will results in point deductions,
similar to an in-class exam.
Introduction/thesis 3 points
Create a strong thesis that provides the framework of your paper. A thesis often presents a novel
argument (something that is debatable). The thesis belongs in the introduction. The introduction should
also offer either a way to introduce the issue and/or an overview of what you’ll be discussing.
Comprehension and explanation of concepts 15 points
You must show me that you fully understand the concept. This includes defining it and including
supporting quotes from the primary text. You must be able to explain the concepts in your own words
and apply it correctly to your chosen contemporary event or issue. Importantly, a full understanding of
concepts also includes a discussion of how the concept fits in the theorist’s broader agenda (e.g., class,
conflict, and capitalism for Marx).
Grammar/Style/Following directions 2 points
Your exam should be proofread and revised. Write a draft, take a day off from it. When you return,
proofread for grammatical errors and revise for “flow.” Flow usually means that the paper reads well
and your organization makes sense (paragraphs build off of each other, each paragraph focuses on only
I always advise students to read their paper aloud. Students often find awkward phrases or mistakes by
Format requirements: The paper should be: 4-5 pages, double-spaced, justified, 1” margins, and in
Times New Roman (12pt font) or Calibri (11pt font). No extra space between paragraphs.
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