Sociological Research Papers

Thus, it is not the subject matter that makes a paper sociological, but rather the perspective used in writing it. At its most basic, sociology is an attempt to understand and explain the way that individuals and groups interact within a society. Well, as Karl Marx observes at the beginning of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), humans “make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.” Thus, a good sociological argument needs to balance both individual agency and structural constraints.That is certainly a tall order, but it is the basis of all effective sociological writing.Some sociologists favor qualitative over quantitative data, or vice versa, and it is perfectly reasonable to rely on only one method in your own work.

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Although this mistake can manifest itself in any number of ways, three types of flawed arguments are particularly common: Although each of these three arguments seems quite different, they all share one common feature: they assume exactly what they need to be explaining.

They are excellent starting points, but lousy conclusions.

This evidence usually draws upon observed patterns and information from collected cases and experiences, not just from isolated, anecdotal reports.

Just because your second cousin was able to climb the ladder from poverty to the executive boardroom does not prove that the American class system is open.

Different traditions within sociology tend to favor one side of the equation over the other, with some focusing on the agency of individual actors and others on structural factors.

The danger is that you may go too far in either of these directions and thus lose the complexity of sociological thinking.You need to know your audience, the way they view the world and how they order and evaluate information.So, without further ado, let’s figure out just what sociology is, and how one goes about writing it.Unlike many of the other subjects here at UNC, such as history or English, sociology is a new subject for many students.Therefore, it may be helpful to give a quick introduction to what sociologists do.Of course, that is true in all papers, but there are a couple of pitfalls common to sociology that you should be aware of and avoid at all cost.As previously defined, sociology is the study of the interaction between individuals and larger social forces.Finally, sociologists may look at divisions and inequality within society, examining phenomena such as race, gender, and class, and their effect on people’s choices and opportunities.As you can see, sociologists study just about everything. Wright Mills, in his book The Sociological Imagination (1959), writes that “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” Why?Even if you are making a theoretical argument, you must be able to point to documented instances of social phenomena that fit your argument.Logic is necessary for making the argument, but is not sufficient support by itself.


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