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Write a sociological account of a case similar to those discussed in the course, but not one that has been discussed directly (for example, you could use the case of ‘satanic ritual abuse’, but not ‘alien abduction’; or, you could use the case of
Write a sociological account of a case similar to those discussed in the course, but not one that has been discussed directly (for example, you could use the case of ‘satanic ritual abuse’, but not ‘alien abduction’; or, you could use the case of the ‘7/7 bombings, but not the ‘tokkotai missions’; or the ‘Paddington rail disaster’, but not the ‘Challenger shuttle disaster; the ‘Indian Ocean Tsunami’ or ‘Kashmiri earthquake’; but not ‘Hurricane Katrina’).
The essay might usefully be approached by drawing insights from a number of substantive topics addressed in both semesters one and two of the course. Selected lecture topics can be used to throw sociological light on the phenomenon / event chosen for special study. It is important to recognise that the above question asks you to write a sociological account of ‘a case’ rather than multiple cases. You therefore need to select and focus attention on one case only and no more than one.
It is not claimed that all the lecture topics / themes listed below would need to be addressed in a student essay on any particular topic. Quite apart from which, these and / or other lecture topics may be relevant to the development of other different case studies; there is consequently no ‘one size fits all’ logic when approaching a case study whatever that case study may be. Selectivity is necessary particularly given the word limit constraint associated with the essay.
Ideally it would be worthwhile highlighting the applicability of topics drawn from across the whole course rather than one semester’s work to the exclusion of the other. In other words, reference should be made, as far as possible, at least, to semester two lecture topics alongside those of semester one rather than just those comprising semester one only. It is important to remember that the essay must have a clear structure. That is to say, before applying particular concepts and theories to your chosen case study it is first necessary to outline the meaning of those key ideas and the interrelations between them within the wider theory. Doing this will help to set the scene on the analysis to follow and ensures that the flow of the argument remains logical and coherent. You should not assume that the examiner does not need to be told the meaning of these concepts / theories thereby relieving you of the need to provide exegesis. Instead you need to demonstrate an understanding of key ideas in the main body of the text. Doing this creates a necessary platform before then moving on to apply these ideas to your chosen case study.
Further reading from the module handbook in relation to particular topics dealt with on the course is necessary in order to demonstrate a deep and thoroughgoing knowledge of specific theories and concepts. This may involve addressing some standard criticisms of key ideas employed in the essay. You might usefully ask whether the chosen case study lends support to these criticisms or whether instead it provides a backcloth for constructing new defences in the face of some of them.
Independent research is also required. Recent academic journal articles and journalistic pieces from newspapers and elsewhere could usefully be drawn upon when gathering together information and data on the subject of your chosen case study. A google and / or googlescholar.com search may prove useful in this connection. Other websites might also yield other important insights. See page 4 of the ‘Social Worlds and the Sociological Imagination’ module handbook for advice on the use of appropriate online resources.
Suggested Essay Plan
The essay plan offered here is only SUGGESTIVE. It provides a template to help you start thinking about how a number of lecture topics on the course might shed sociological light on one recent event. You are NOT OBLIGED to follow this plan; it is entirely up to you whether you choose to follow it or not. Only you can make a decision about this.
The essay should fall into three main parts: (1) Introduction; (2) Main body of the essay; (3) Conclusion.
– What is a ‘case study’? The Flyvbjerg (2006) seminar reading linked to the final lecture in semester two of the course may prove useful when attempting to define what a ‘case study’ actually is. Identify the particular case chosen for analysis and state why it is similar to, though different from, those other cases addressed on the course.
– Unpack what is meant by a ‘sociological account’ and briefly outline how such a perspective is different from, for example, a psychological or philosophical account of a problem or event. Put simply, why is a sociological account distinctive in its own right?
– Identify the lecture topics by name that will be drawn upon when constructing a sociological account of the chosen event (e.g. Perrow on ‘normal accidents’, Winch on understanding ‘alien cultures’).
– Briefly indicate the conclusion that you will reach in the essay [Note: You may only find out what your ‘conclusion’ is after you have finished writing the essay].
(2) Main Body of the Essay
The lectures making up semesters one and two of this course provide an important backdrop in terms of concepts, theories and insights that might usefully be employed when moulding a sociological account of the particular case study selected for analysis. Elaborate those concepts in the context of the particular case you have chosen, showing how they illuminate it and how the sociological account is different from common sense, or media, accounts.
The ‘conclusion is an opportunity to pull together the threads of the arguments discussed in the main body of the essay. You might usefully reflect back over the journey you have taken in the essay, the intellectual territory covered on the journey and what you made of it. The ‘conclusion’ might also provide a chance to relate your analysis back to C. W. Mills on private troubles and public issues as a way of rounding off the essay. Other useful things that might be addressed in the ‘conclusion’ include the question of whether or not the case study chosen for analysis enables you to think about the problem of ‘anxiety’ in modern societies and the role of sociology?