Recognizing that this type of assignment — a theory-application essay — is new (and therefore possibly intimidating) for many of you, I want to offer some additional advice. First, and most importantly: go back and read, then re-read, the original texts. Despite the fact that we’re past the midterm, I dare say that some of you have been coasting on the intro sections in the reader, posted slides, class notes, discussion, and lectures, without ever reading the primary material. (Not that this is “immoral” or something. Depending on your circumstances, it could be highly “strategic.”) In any case, this particular assignments demands critical engagement with original texts of sociological theory.
To help give you some direction, I’ve selected critical passages from various texts from Marx, Durkheim and Weber, annotated with topically relevant comments and questions (here and cross-posted in Assignments). They’re suggestions of places in the text to focus your attention. You’re not expected to read and digest everything, but to at least to analyze some section of original text in depth (and you’re advised to include quotations in your essay). Since the assignment emphasizes close examination of a particular text, I’m relaxing the requirement that the paper say something about each of the three theorists. If you feel confident about making general comparative statements, great, but it’s not necessary.