Click here for downloadable version of the Portfolio Project Guidelines

Socg471: History of Social Theory

Marsh, Fall 2010

On-Line Theory Portfolio:

Project Guidelines

Purpose #1: A portfolio represents your development in understanding and participating in sociological theory. This portfolio assignment gives you the opportunity to explore more fully and actively the contemporary relevance of the ideas of one of the classical theorists studied in this course. This portfolio will display your ability to understand, apply, compare, and critique the ideas of major classical theorists.

Purpose #2: Your on-line portfolio will also provide you with an easy dissemination of your ideas and broader collaboration with others. My goal in utilizing umwblogs for this project is to allow our conversation about the usefulness of classical theorists to extend beyond the confines of the classroom.  Your active on-line engagement with each others’ work is an integral part of your participation in the course, and I will consider it as such when evaluating participation credit.

Guidelines: Construct an on-line theory portfolio. Content guidelines are intentionally loose to allow for optimum creativity. Your portfolios will be evaluated on creativity, sophistication of ideas, and your communication of those ideas; on the accuracy with which you represent the ideas of the theorists and your growing ability to apply, analyze, and critique those ideas; and on full and accurate documentation of evidence used in your analyses (cite and reference your sources on-line, as you would in a research paper). See rubric at end of this hand-out. We will discuss the application of these evaluation principles throughout the semester as we collaborate on effective strategies for blog communication (that is, you will share your blogs with the class and discuss what’s working). I will evaluate your portfolios twice. On-line portfolios lend themselves to revision and process–you should feel free to revise any materials throughout the semester, especially those evaluated at mid-term. By mid-term you should have completed at least the first six of the items. The full portfolio is due at the end of semester. Some items are required; some are optional.

Portfolio Contents

_____ (1) (required) Portfolio title

_____ (2) (required) Portfolio banner (and/or photo) that visually illustrates a sociological concept or theory that you find most compelling; accompanying 1-2 paragraph explanation.

_____ (3) (required) Table of contents (a listing of the content available on your portfolio)

_____ (4) (required) Introduction: Theory Is… (your own definition of sociological theory—this should be a revision of the definition you wrote during our first class period)

_____ (5) (required) What is the use of classical theory and why should we study it?

_____ (6) (required—choose A or B)

(A) Class Consciousness and Contemporary U.S. Society. Conduct unstructured interviews of acquaintances.  Talk with them about their views about capitalism.  You should ask them how they feel about such things as private property, free-enterprise, the government, etc., and anything else you think might give you a sense of their level of class consciousness.  Be sure to allow yourself

enough time to speak with at least 5 people.  Be sure to record what people have to say so that you can cite them in your paper.  Using these interviews and your understanding of Marx and Engels’ theory, write a short essay discussing the relevance of Marx and Engels’ analysis of classes and capitalism for the U.S. today.  Be sure to explain why you think your respondents believe what they believe and indicate anything people say that you see as evidence of class consciousness or the impact of ideology.

(B) Popular culture and the spirit of capitalism. Explain Weber’s link between the “spirit of capitalism” and the “ethos of Protestantism. According to Weber, what were the original religious reasons for the predominant pursuit of profit? Identify contemporary evidence of the capitalist/modern ethos (might include pictures), and discuss (1) whether you agree that there is indeed such an ethos of profit and (2) whether the spirit of capitalism is consistent with maximizing human potential and valuing human community.

_____ (7) (optional) The power of family rituals. Describe and analyze a ritual observed in your family.  Based of your understanding of Durkheim’s theory and using your example to illustrate, discuss (a) how and why family rituals “work,” (b) what consequences they have for family members, and (c) how they fit into Durkheim’s broader analysis of modern society.

_____ (8) (required) A feminist perspective on everyday life. Describe and analyze one day of your life through the eyes of Gilman. Note: You don’t need to be a woman to be able to see life with an eye to gender relations.

_____ (9) (optional) A __________ perspective on everyday life. You may repeat #9 using a concept central to another theorist’s work.

_____ (10) (required—choose a or b) Who is a theorist, and who gets to say?

  1. Is Cooper a social theorist?  Why or why not?  In your entry, draw from your earlier definition of theory, and establish your points with textual references (Cooper’s ideas, as well as Lemert’s discussion of her work).
  2. Is DuBois a social theorist?  Why or why not? (Again, refer to your earlier definition of theory and use textual references as evidence.)

_____ (11) (required) Film Analysis. Analyze one film or play using a theorist of your choice. (You may choose this option more than once if you want to analyze more than one film—but please use a different theoretical perspective in each analysis.) Use one or two concepts from a particular theorist to explain the play or film that you have attended.  Please BRIEFLY summarize the plot or story in one-three paragraphs.  Then, introduce the concept and develop your analysis in (the equivalent of) 2-3 pages, using examples from the film or play.

_____ (12) (required) You don’t understand the world until you know this theorist’s ideas about Choose a core contribution of one theorist and establish its contemporary importance.

_____ (13) (optional) In the news. Analyze one news article covering a current policy issue using the theorist of your choice.  Include a copy of or link to the article(s). What is the policy issue being discussed?  What is the frame of the article? the perspective of the author? Which classical theorist provides the most useful perspective and concepts for understanding this current issue? Suggested topics:  health care reform; tax policy; government regulation of ______; affordable ______; labor unions; Afghanistan; abortion rights; gun laws; freedom of speech; voting rights.

_____ (14) (required) Social Space.  Walk (or drive, or best yet—take FRED) around Fredericksburg and think about how space is arranged in the city (i.e., where things are placed, who has access to what areas, etc.)  How do these arrangements reflect Simmel’s principles of space, especially the idea that spatial arrangements are sociological facts?

_____ (15) (required) Discussion questions. Write an entry in which you respond to one of the questions (or sets of questions) in Hurst (See “Questions to Ponder” at end of each chapter)

_____ (16) (optional) Your choice.  Dedicate one or more entries to an application or analysis of your choice.  For example, you may want to attend a lecture or academic discussion/workshop on campus and consider the applicability of one of the classical sociological theorists.

_____ (17) (optional) Left Behind. What important classical theorist did we miss or marginalize?  Make a case for why I should include a section on her/him in future semesters.

Grading Rubric for On-Line Portfolio

A

Concepts defined correctly, well-illustrated, creatively used. ____

Excellent understanding and application of theories. _____

Portfolio illustrates consistent growth in sociological theory (application,

analysis, and critique) _____

Active engagement with theorist’s ideas; moving toward theory construction _____

Portfolio illustrates outstanding work and creativity. _____

Directions carefully followed. _____

Excellent grammar.  Careful editing. Excellent cohesion. _____

Citations & references complete, accurate, & easy to find/use. _____

FINAL SUBMISSION: Incorporated & went beyond instructor suggestions. _____

B

Concepts well defined and well illustrated. _____

Good understanding and application of theories. _____

Portfolio illustrates growth in sociological theory. _____

Portfolio illustrates solid, hard work and creativity. _____

Direction followed. _____

Grammar good.  Cohesion good, but could be better. _____

Citations & references fairly complete, accurate, & fairly easy to find/use. _____

FINAL SUBMISSION: Incorporated instructor suggestions. _____

C

Concepts not defined clearly, examples could illustrate concepts better. _____

Fair understanding and application of theories. _____

Portfolio illustrates little or some growth in sociological theory. _____

Portfolio illustrates average work and adequate creativity. ____

Most directions followed. _____
Grammar fair. Some sentences vague. Organization not clear. _____

Citations & references adequate; fairly easy to find/use. _____

FINAL SUBMISSION: Incorporated most of instructor suggestions. _____

D

Concepts inaccurately or poorly defined.  Examples are not illustrated. _____

Poor understanding and application of theories. _____

Portfolio illustrates little growth in sociological theory. _____

Portfolio illustrates below average work and little creativity. _____

Some directions not followed. _____

Grammar needs improvement. Poorly organized/hard to follow. _____

Citations inadequate; difficult to find or use. _____

FINAL SUBMISSION: Incorporated few of instructor suggestions. _____

F

Concepts used incorrectly. _____

Portfolio illustrates no growth in theory. _____

Portfolio illustrates incomplete and below average work and no creativity. _____

Theories not understood or applied in an inappropriate manner. _____

Directions not followed or ignored. _____

Grammar not college level. _____

No citations and/or references. _____

FINAL SUBMISSION: Failed to incorporate instructor suggestions. _____

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