Overview: In this assignment you will write an analytical essay that examines a social institution using your
sociological imagination and the theoretical perspectives learned in our class. Please choose from the following
social institutions and follow the directions below to write your paper: Religion, Sports, Medicine/Healthcare,
Family, Education, Government. Due to extensive coverage in our regular class meetings, you may not choose the
Economy or the Media as your primary topic, but you should discuss their integration with, and impact on, your
Instructions: After choosing an institution, do some background reading to solidify your knowledge of the
institution and its general features. Conley’s analysis and information in our class text is a good place to start. You are
encouraged to seek outside resources too, however it is not a requirement. After your background reading and
research, you will be analyzing your topic using the sociological imagination and theoretical perspectives. It’s
important to keep this in mind, as your paper should not be a typical “research paper” that just organizes and presents
I. Introduction and general description of the institution.
II. Macro analysis of the institution from the Functionalist Perspective
What need does this institution fulfill? Manifest functions? Latent functions?
How is it integrated with other major institutions in our society?
How does this institution promote things like order, stability, value consensus?
How does this institution shape the values, norms, and activities of groups and organizations?
III. Macro analysis of the institution from the Conflict Perspective
Does this institution have internal conflicts or competing “factions” or groups?
How does this institution conflict with other major institutions in society?
Does this institution support inequality, oppression, competition, or struggle?
Is this institution a source of value conflicts, competing ideologies, or other “dysfunctions?”
IV. Micro analysis of the institution from the Interactionist Perspective
How does this institution shape groups/people’s behavior and reality constructions?
What cultural scripts, norms, values, and statuses/role sets come from this institution?
What are some common symbols/interpretations associated with the institution and its groups?
Using theories of interaction like dramaturgy and exchange theory, how could you explain some of the
behaviors associated with this institution?
V. Summary analysis and concluding remarks.
Additional Requirements: In addition to using your text or other general sociological resources to analyze the institution, please
select a minimum of two news articles that feature your institution from reputable media sources (ie. LA Times, NY Times,
Newsweek, Time, Slate.Com, Huffington Post). These articles will serve as a source of examples for you to draw from in your
analysis as you cover the bullet points above. You paper should explain concepts as they apply to your institution, then it should
demonstrate understanding of these concepts by applying them directly to examples in the articles. If you need clarification on
this instruction and help selecting appropriate articles, please ask. You may use any standard citation format such as MLA, ASA,
or APA for your articles. Papers should be at least 3 pages long, typed, double-spaced with an 11 or 12 font and 1″
margins; your name and class info should be in either upper corner with a single staple in the left corner. No title pages
or plastic protectors, please.
Grading: This paper is worth 100 points, 20% of your class grade. Grades will be based on the following: proper and accurate
use and application of sociological terms and concepts; depth of analysis and effort; use and quality of sources and articles;
creativity and originality in presentation. If you have any questions, concerns, or confusion, please email me or see me
before/after class for guidance.
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