Degas, Portrait de M. Duranty

Writing Assignments
Sociology 1306 - Social Problems
Professor Larry Stern

You will complete five (5) writing assignments.The first two assignments - on "Political Ideology" and the "Sociological Analysis of Social Problems" - are required. You will then choose three assignments from the remaining six that are posted on the course calendar: these focus on (1) Prejudice and Discrimination, (2) Poverty, Wealth, Inequality and Life-Chances, (3) Crime & Deviance, (4) Sexuality and Gender Inequality, (5) Health Care, and (6) Political Partisanship, Social Responsibility & Social Policy. Each paper will require roughly two-to-three pages (750 words) and will be submitted in Canvas. These five assignments, combined, will count as 75% of your final grade.



Writing Assignment #1 (Required):
Political Ideology

This exercise will indicate where you fall in a political ideology typology developed by the Pew Research Center and have you think about the differences between the groups identified, the social factors that have affected others and your political stance, and the potential consequences that might follow when it comes to thinking about social problems.

Go to Beyond Red vs. Blue: The 2014 Pew Research Political Typology and click on "Take the Typology Quiz" (the link is located to the left of the table titled The 2014 Political Typology: Polarized Wings, A Diverse Middle.) Take the quiz. When finished, click on "Get My Results." You will be taken to a page that will indicate what percentage of the public shares your ideology, give a brief description of the the characteristics of those falling into your category, and indicate (using graphs) how your answers compare with answers given by the general public.

You are to answer the following four questions. The first question, which is purely descriptive, is worth 10% of your grade. The second question, which involves more analysis, is worth 30% of your grade. The third question, by far the most important, is worth the remaining 40% of your grade. The fourth question is worth the remaining 20% of your grade.

1. Describe the typology group you have been placed in. Who did they support in the last presidential election? What are some of their social background characteristics? What positions do they typically take on key issues? How does this compare with the general public? Are your test results consistent with your self-identification? If not, how do you account for the differences?

2. Next, you will explore the differences between the views of members of the various typology groups by clicking on "Compare groups on key isses" (the link is located at the end of the general description of the typology, before you get to the charts). First, click on "Demographics" which is located near the bottom of the column on the left-hand side of the page. Explore how the various typological groups compare when it comes to gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, income, and party. What three patterns seemed to fit well with your understanding of political differences? What three patterned differences surprised you - and tell me why? Next, choose one other category - Religion and Society, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy & Security, Government and Economic Policy, Views of U.S. & Economy, or Politics & Elections - and, using the pull-down menus attached to your choice, as before, tell me what three patterns seemed to fit well with your understanding of political differences? What three patterned differences surprised you - and tell me why?

3. Third - and this is the most important part of your response - consider how each of the following "social factors" - parents, peers, social class, sex, age, race, education, geographical area - have affected your ideological position? Be certain to address each of these factors.

[Please note that the question doesn't ask you "if" these factors have affected your political attitudes - it is assumed that they do. The question is "how" has each made an impact on your political attitude/ideology.]

4. How does political ideology affect (a) one's views on whether or not a condition constitutes a "social problem" and (b) the choice of steps that one advocates to alleviate the extent to which a particular problem exists?