Quality of consumption/leisure, transforming consumption/leisure
Page limit: 15-pp double-spaced (approx. 4,000 words) excluding references & title page
1) Topic Areas: You paper topic must be centrally concerned with an issue in one of the following
broad topic areas. The areas obviously overlap, and some topics could fit in more than one area. Your topic may not be exactly identical to these, they are just examples for how to expand certain topics. You will be graded on the same criteria regardless of your topic.
That is fine (though it will be something that needs to be worked out for group presentations).
1. Quality of economies, political economy & welfare, & transforming economy
2. Quality of education & transforming education
3. Quality of family, community & civil society & transforming family/ community/civil
4. Quality of individuals & human capital, & transforming individuals
5. Quality of political processes, state & policies (other than welfare or education) and
transforming the political realm
6. Quality of work & workplaces – transforming work
For example, a topic under area 1 (political economy) might be basic income proposals. Another
topic in that area might be communist revolution, or gradual transitions towards communism or
anarchism. A third topic in that area might be more reformist, such Piketty’s proposal to tax
wealth, or alternative monetary exchange systems from bitcoin to local alternative currencies (e.g.
Ithica Hours). Examples of topics under areas 2, 6 and 4 might involve technologies (e.g. internet,
MOOCs and future of universities, robotics in work, therapies in transforming individuals). In all
areas basic sociological issues like stratification (class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.)
are relevant, and your paper could be narrowed down by focusing at the intersection of those
factors with your more general topic. Area 3 encompasses a range of civil society institutions,
including media. Family, community and civil society are all institutional domains where cultural
flows can be disjoint or plural. Thus you can deal with culture, but if you do you have to make
connections to community and civil society (i.e., your focus should not be on formal aesthetics
Your topic could involve consideration or social problems and their rectification, e.g. problems
related to domestic abuse in area 3, or immigration in area 5. However, you do not have to address
social problems. For example, a topic that fits under area 3 might be with quality of art and music
as aspects of civil society. In that area one could argue that the transition is from good to better, or
vice versa. If you do address social problems in your paper, the paper must not be restricted to
social problems. In the end you must be concerned with movement toward optimal or utopian
outcomes. That means, you will have to specify the positive or good in some way. For example, a
paper might consider quality of death (under area 4), and in some context death can be framed as 2
a social problem, rather than just an individual problem. A paper on that topic would have to
consider what a good death is, and how more good deaths can be fostered. The balance of your
paper should be focused on moving towards positive societal outcomes in the context of pluralism
or divergences in goals and images of the (utopian) good. You need not assume transitions are
linear, or that there is always movement towards progress. It would add some depth if you
consider negative unintended consequences of actions intended or initially perceived as
movements towards the good or positive.
2) Theoretical & Substantive Issues: Your paper must address the following:
(a) All ideas and theories from the course readings that are directly relevant to your thesis should
be discussed. You must at minimum reference assigned 5 readings, and those readings should be
from at least 3 different weeks.
(b) You must develop a thesis, and attempt to support it.
(c ) You must reference empirical research when making assertions of fact, when possible. You
should be clear when you haven’t been able to find research for an assertion of fact or pattern. By
empirical research I mean any form of systematic research, including archival, experimental,
survey, ethno-methods, etc. However, you do not need to reference research for every point. When
you don’t have the time to find evidence supporting a statement of fact, you might write something
to signal you are aware of the limitation (e.g., “my impression is that there is evidence that…”). You
should make an effort to assert some relevant facts. But to reiterate, this is not an honors thesis.
Thus you should not spend more than 5 hours researching the literature. Most of your time should
be spent writing and thinking. At minimum, you must reference at least 4 empirical studies
outside of the assigned readings. Doing more might result in a higher mark, but there will be
diminishing marginal returns for being more exhaustive than about 12 outside references.
(d ) You must generally discuss how sociological research might be conduced in order to facilitate
or retard the transformations you are focusing on. By that I do not mean you should outline in
detail how research should be conducted. Instead, you should at some point briefly discuss how
sociological research might be regulated, or disciplined in “hermeneutic circles” related to texts,
literatures, and methods. What kinds of studies might be done, and how might different kids of
studies be related. In particular how might using “utopia as method” be done, and how would it fit
with the transformative process?
(e) Finally, you must discuss two or more theories, theoretical paradigms, or perspectives in
relation to your thesis. Included in that discussion you should compare and contrast the theories
or paradigms in terms of being, doing and having. You must discuss capabilities theory, or a
version of it.
Additional Technical Details
Cover page should include your name, the course name, a title, and the date. Your name should not
appear on any other page. All pages should be stapled together.3
Use a common 12-point font (e.g. Times or Cambia).
Use 1” margins.
Number all pages – do not number the title page. The page after the title page is #1. Some people
every year loose credit for not following this simple rule!
Begin the list of references on a new page, after the last page of text.
Use American Sociological Association style for citations and references. For example, in the text
references are (Author, year). Quotes have to have page numbers. Include references to all work
cited in the reference list. Missing references or inclusion of references not cited in the text may
result in deductions!
Use headings and subheadings as necessary, but do not use so many headings that 15 pages
become much less than 4,000 words.
Grammar, sentence structure, spelling etc. will be considered in marking.
Logic, flow and coherence will be considered in marking
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