Term Paper Instructions

A Book Chapter on a Theorist

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The term paper is a research paper on a major social theorist not covered in this course. While we try to survey as many different theoretical schools in one semester, the list is always limited due to the time constraints of the semester. Thus, this assignment can supplement the knowledge and skills you gain in this course. We will also share each other’s paper through DB and expand our knowledge through peer-learning. I made a suggestion for the theorists you may choose at the bottom of this instruction.

The purpose of this assignment is to obtain an expert knowledge on the theorist of your choice, and to demonstrate your ability to present the knowledge to an academic audience (i.e., to me and to the class). The information you are required to present in this paper includes 1) a short biography and intellectual lineage of this person, a list of all books by this person and any major articles/essays considered significant, 2) main areas of study, key concepts, and theoretical ideas (a minimum of 4 concepts/terms should be discussed), 3) the significance of this theorist in the overall history of sociological theory (including the subfield of sociology influenced mostly by this person’s work), 4) your own discussion of where to apply this person’s concepts and ideas (i.e., what kind of research questions and project can you come up with, using this person’s theory?), 5) key term glossary and bullet point summary, and 6) discussion questions.

Please, read carefully the format below. Do not assume that I already know more than you about this theorist; write as if you are explaining to a student audience who do not know this theorist. In other words, try to be as clear and detailed as possible in explaining the concepts/ideas.

FORMAT: To make it more creative, I will ask you to write this research paper like a textbook chapter. Imagine I was writing a theory textbook and asked you to contribute with a chapter on this theorist. You will be writing this for an undergraduate audience. Your writing has to be intellectual and professional with proper citation (ASA style) wherever necessary, but not too abstract nor difficult to decipher. Since it’s a chapter, you can design the paper like a book chapter, including images (no more than 2), diagrams, box features, and so on. You must include source citations for any images and diagrams which are borrowed. See some textbooks for design ideas. Our textbook can be a model, too.

Your paper/chapter (around 10-12 pages) must have the following segments:

1) Chapter title with the person’s name and a subtitle to represent his/her main theoretical ideas

2) Introduction paragraph (1-2 paragraph)

3) Biography, intellectual lineage, and the list of publications by this author (1-2 pages. No more than 2 pages on the bio)

4) Main areas of study, key theories and ideas, concepts (6-7 pages. You may do it in as many subsect ions as you like)

5) Evaluation of this theorist’s contributions to sociology/Significance, including in which subfield of study this person’s theory has been mostly cited. (1-3 pages)

6) Contemporary example which this theory can be applied to (This would be your own ideas for fut ure studies and research using this theory). (1-3 pages)

7) List of key terms with definition (1/2 page)


8) Bullet point summary (1/2 page)

9) Suggested Reading List (8-10 references)

10) Discussion Questions (3-5 Questions)


In Biography section, you will include this person’s life span (e.g., 1920-2001), country of birth and country where this person worked most of his/her life, educational credential, disciplinary training, from whom s/he was intellectually influenced by, and a short description of the idea(s) and activities that made this person famous. This section should also include this person’s main books or articles (year of publication must be included for each work).

In Main Areas of Study and Key Theoretical Ideas section, you explain in greater details the most important theory or concepts by this theorist. Each concept or theory should be explained clearly with examples. But you also need to explain how these concepts or theories relate to each other in this person’s overall perspectives. You may use bold and italics to highlight a particular terminology or name of a theory or use subheadings. The paper should be written like an essay (not bullet point presentation). The definitions and explanations of the concepts and theories must be written in your own wording and have to be clear enough for someone who has never heard of this theorist. (Imagine that you are “teaching” this to me) You must use examples for concepts. I expect you to cover a minimum of FOUR ideas/issues/concepts in this section.

Significance of The Theorist or Evaluation of Contributions to sociology section, should be your own assessment of this theorist’s contributions. You may include any evaluation of your own about this theorist’s ideas, the usefulness of his/her theory, what fields of study his/her theory is and can be applied, and how his/her theory may relate to other theories we have learned in this course (for example, any connection with someone else, what theoretical tradition he/she seems to follow, whose theories this person’s ideas may confirm or contradicting).

Contemporary Application section is where you describe how you may apply this person’s ideas/perspectives/concepts in a specific sociological topic (e.g., Is this idea useful for a study of the cause of mass random shooting we have seen in recent weeks? Can this person’s concept applied to investigate whether economic prosperity leads to political democratization? Or, does it explain why poverty rates are higher among women than men? Can you apply this perspective to study how social media are changing people’s relationships or not? And so on). Do NOT write a laundry list of different things you can apply this to (i.e., Do not write something like “I can use this idea to study crime rates, or juvenile delinquency, or deviant behaviors in general. There are a lot more applications”). Instead, focus on a set of related research questions you may want to apply the theory to and provide detailed explanation about how the theory relates to your questions/inquiry. What kinds of hypotheses this theory leads to regarding the topic you chose? What would be the strengths and limitations of applying this theory to this topic, compared to other theories? Give a lot of thoughts about these questions and clearly articulate what you expect.

Follow the model in our textbook for List of key terms and definitions section, Chapter summary, and Suggested reading list sections. The reading list must include all bibliographical information in ASA style and have at least 10 sources. No Websites are accepted for this section.


  1. Do not copy paragraphs or passages from published sources. Any direct quotes longer than 3 sentences will be prohibited for this assignment, even with citations. Copy and paste without citation constitutes plagiarism and will be treated as such. All information must be paraphrased using your own wording and the sources must be cited using ASA style. Failure to follow this instruction will result in a zero for this assignment.



  1. Students will have to submit their term paper through SafeAssign (you will find a specific link in the folder named “Term Paper Submission”).


SafeAssign will process your assignment by generating an Originality Report that I will receive within minutes for supported files.

  1. Important: please, note that it is NOT allowed to submit the same term paper (or a modified version of this) for two classes!


List of Theorists (this is only my suggestion):

  • Thornstein Veblen
  • Judith Butler
  • Jane Adams
  • Herbert Marcuse
  • Antonio Gramsci
  • Peter Blau
  • Peter Berger
  • Robert E. Park
  • Charles Horton Cooley
  • Jürgen Habermas
  • Alfred Schutz
  • Zygmunt Bauman
  • George Ritzer
  • Anthony Giddens
  • Arlie Russell Hochschild


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