Identifying and Explaining Social Patterns: Political Ideology/Perspectives in the U.S.

Writing Assignment #1Identifying and Explaining Social Patterns: Political Ideology/Perspectivesin the U.S.This is a required assignment and must be submitted in Canvas no later than10am on Monday, September 13th. This paper should be double-spaced andbetween 750 – 1,000 words – roughly three typed pages using 12-point font.The purpose of this assignment is for you to illustrate yourunderstanding of how different “perspectives” – in this particular casepolitical beliefs and attitudes – are based on peoples’ different experiences,which are, in turn, affected by their social positions (age, race, sex, age,social class, educational background, geographical area).This exercise will indicate where you fall in a politicalideology typology developed by the Pew Research Center and have you think aboutthe differences between the groups identified, the social factors that haveaffected others and your political stance, and the potential consequences thatmight follow when it comes to thinking about social problems.Complete the Pew Research Center’s PoliticalTypology Quiz. (Links to an external site.) completing thequiz you will be placed in one of 9 different groups, given a brief descriptionof the general beliefs and attitudes of those in your category and show how youcompare to the general public.You are to answer the following four questions, each withmultiple parts. 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 theremaining 40% of your grade. The fourth and last question is worth theremaining 20% of your grade. I suggest that you also refer to the “Tipsfor Writing Assignments” in the START HERE module.1. Describe the typology group you have been placed in. Whodid they support in the last presidential election? What are some of theirsocial background characteristics? What positions do they typically take on keyissues? Are your test results consistent with your self-identification? If not,how do you account for the differences? (10% of grade)
2. Next, you will explore the differences between the viewsof members of the various typology groups by clicking on “Dig Deeper and see How the Political Typology Groups Compare. (Linksto an external site.)“First, click on “Demographics” which is locatednear the bottom of the column on the left-hand side of the page. Examine thedata to explore how the various typological groups compare when it comes togender, age, race/ethnicity, education, income, and party. What threestatistical patterns seemed to fit well with your understanding of thepolitical differences between these different categories of people? What threepatterned differences surprised you – and tell me why? Next, choose two othercategories that are listed – Race, Religion and Social Issues, Foreign Policy,Government, Views of U.S. & Economy, or Politics & Elections – and,using the pull-down menus attached to your choice, as before, tell me whatthree patterns seemed to fit well with your understanding of politicaldifferences and what three patterned differences surprised you – and tell mewhy? (30% of grade)
3. Third – and this is the most important part of yourresponse – explain HOW each of the following “social factors” –parents, peers, social class, sex, age, race, education, geographical area –have affected your ideological perspective? Be certain to addresseach of these factors. (40% of grade)[Please note that this third question doesn’t ask you“if” these factors have affected your political perspective – it isassumed that they do. The question is “how” has each made an impacton your political attitude/ideology.]
4. Fourth and last, now that you have seen and consideredthe “patterned” differences in the political ideology of citizens in the UnitedStates – that these different “perspectives” are based on peoples’ differentexperiences which are, in turn, affected by their social positions rather thantheir personality characteristics or lack of innate intelligence, how mightthis understanding lead to a more civil and fruitful political discussion ofthe political issues that divide us today? (20%)Since the purpose of this assignment is for you toillustrate your understanding of how different “perspectives” are basedon peoples’ different experiences which are, in turn, affected by their socialpositions I suggest that you include an introductory paragraph mentioning thekey points that you learned about perspectives in Units 1A and 1B: thatperspectives are, by their very nature incomplete, and thus partial, that theyboth facilitate and constrain one’s attention, etc. Then, nail down the mainpoint of how one’s social backgrounds – and thus their experiences – affectwhat they see when looking at the world. And, as I mentioned before, I suggestthat you also refer to the
“Tips forWriting Assignments”(1) Each assignment has multiple parts andquestions. The most common reason that students lose points on theseessays is that they do not fully answer each of the questions that are posed.In some instances, they simply ignore one or more of the questions included inthe prompt. When I grade these assignments, I look for reasons to giveyou points, but if you have left out one of the four questions included inthe prompt, you have just lost somewhere between 10% and 25% of the points forthe assignment (depending upon how much each question is worth).In other instances, although each question is addressed, theanswers provided are much too brief. These questions are designed to needbetween 750 – 1,000 words – at least three full pages, 12 point-font – to beanswered adequately. And to answer these questions adequately, you need torefer to the class lecture notes as well as the relevant assigned readings,videos and web pagesSo, please follow directions.(2) The purpose of these essays is to have youillustrate your understanding of the sociological perspective –the types of questions that we raise and the types of factors we examine inorder to better understand the world around us. To do so we rely on certain“tools”: the theoretical approaches that you will learn about and, perhaps moreimportant, the concepts that focus our attention on certain aspects of thesocial world. In these assignments, then, you will be expected to show that youcan “use” or “apply” these theories and concepts in a precise manner – that youcan “speak the language” of sociology. This, of course, means that you will beasked to “define” each of the concepts that you use to guide youranalysis.Think of it this way: in order to earn the grade of “A” in aconversational language course – Spanish, German, French, Latin, Mandarin – youwould need to show that you can speak and understand the particular languagethat you are studying. The same applies here in the case of sociology.In addition, when grading these assignments, I typically askmyself: “Could your friend – who has never taken a course in sociology – writethe same essay as you just did?” If the answer is yes, it is highlyunlikely that your essay will receive an “A.” Your friend – howeverinsightful he or she might be – might be able to apply their commonsense and use impressionistic or anecdotal accountsto address the assigned questions, but let me remind you once more: Sociologyis a systematic way of looking at the world – it is not simply commonsense nor is it based on impressionistic or anecdotal accounts.If your friend has never taken a sociology course, they are ill equipped toprovide a sociological analysis. They would typically not recognize – theylikely would never have heard of – the theoretical perspectives or conceptsthat sociologists typically use to guide their analyses – the theoreticalperspectives and concepts that you need to convince me that you understand.Also, please understand that not all sociologists agree withone another when it comes to interpreting what goes on in the world. This meansthat you and I might disagree about things. But if we do, it will not affectyour grade – what I am looking for is a well-organized, concise and logicalanalysis and/or argument – relying upon sociological concepts – that you willpresent to back-up your interpretation.(3) Although there is no exact-grading-rubric foreach essay, you can assume that I am “looking for reasons to give youpoints.” As just mentioned – and it is worth repeating – I amlooking for a well-organized, concise and logical analysis and/or argument thatrelies upon sociological concepts that you will present to support youranalysis. Be certain, too, that you draw upon the relevant class readings– both from the textbook and from the additional articles and web sites that Iprovide to add weight to your answer. And be certain that you define theappropriate concepts. Let me remind you: the purpose of these essays isto have you show me that you understand the sociological perspective – how weraise certain questions and examine social factors to deepen our understandingof the world.Remember, too, that each essay assignment has multipleparts. Unless otherwise noted, you can expect each part of the set of questionsto carry equal weight.(4) You will notice that on two occasions – forUnit 3 on “Sociological Theory” and Unit 5 on “Socialization& the Role of the Mass Media” – I have provided “sampleessays.” These are intended to give you some sense of how toorganize your essays – by being “simple and direct.”(5) I strongly urge that you use the“Spelling and Grammar” check tool that is a part of MicrosoftWord before you submit your paper. If you are not familiar with thistool, look at the top band/line of the tabs above the actual document. Youshould see, in order, File – Edit – View – Insert – Format – Tools – Table –Window – Help. When you open the drop-down tab of “Tools,” the first thing thatyou will see is “Spelling and Grammar.” This will indicate which – if any –words are mis-spelled and offer solutions. It will also flag grammatical errorsand suggest changes.