Writing an essay for Sociology is not the same task as writing an essay for geography or English Literature. It is quite obvious that the same basic rules of literacy style should be observed! Clarity of expression, good grammar, accurate spelling. However, there are important differences. The point that students usually find the hardest to accept is that social science essays are discussions. They deal with provisional knowledge. There is no definite conclusion. The student is usually asked at least in year one, to weigh up possible answers against each other. This encourages the development of ability to present arguments cogently, especially where the writer disagrees with them, to compare and contrast them, and to arrive at a conclusion, based on argument and evidence, that is still aware of all that remains undecided. The stages that should be followed in the writing of a Sociology essay are as follows:
1. Read and study the question set
This is the most obvious and neglected stage. If the question is vague, then you should state exactly what you understand it to mean, and write your essay accordingly. Consider the key words and ideas in the title.
2. Assemble the relevant material
Essays normally require detailed references. You must realize that Sociology essays cannot be answered from a single textbook. Later read through the material and sift out the points relevant to a particular question. As relevant material is found, it should be noted on paper or better still, on cards or small piece of scrap paper.
3. Organizes the material: and produce an essay-plan
The points assembled can now be shuttled about to produce a logical sequence that is the essay plan. There will probably be too much material at this stage, and pruning is needed. Is the material relevant? No? Then discard it. Yes? Ask! Is it essential?
Yes? Include it.
No? Keep it in reserve in case there is a chance to slip it in somewhere. An essay plan can usually be organized around the familiar framework of Introduction/ Discussion/Development/Illustration and conclusion.
Explain what you think the essay title is all about, how you are going to tackle it, and what are the key points that you plan to make. Explain or define any technical terms in the title or those intended.
Make and develop the points that you have said you are going to cover. Com-pare and contrast different views and theories, and link them into an argument. Develop a thread to your discussion.
Do not just give a summary of what you have already said. Rather, show how the arguments and evidence that you have cited tend to lead towards a particular conclusion, or that no conclusion is possible and further research is needed. If you have an opinion, give it, but only if you can show that it is reasonable in the light of what you have previously said. The conclusion should tie up the main thread of your argument. 4. Write the first draft of the essay, following your plan.
5. Check the first draft!
(i) does any lack of clarity conceal confusion on your part? (ii) dogmatic, biased or opinionated statements, words or phrases; expunge from the draft. (iii) statements of fact that are unsupported by evidence. Provide the evidence or cut them out. (iv) Jargon! Use technical terms when they can be used with precision and accuracy, and when they positively help in the presentation of the argument. 6. Write the final draft
This is mainly a matter of copying out.
7. Add a bibliography
Give the author's name, the title, the page, reference and publisher. Adapted from
Handbook of Sociology for Teachers HEB (1982) Gomm & McNeil. The following is offered as an approach to writing a Sociology essay. The material is not complete as it is meant to be a guide. Is a science of society possible?
This question marks the turning point of Sociology where it moves from a subject of social philosophy to becoming a discipline and science in its...
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