essay assignment will require you to pose a critical comparison of two theoretical frameworks we have discussed in class. Your essay should:
-Pose an empirical question that can be answered with a theory we have learned (ex. “What social forces helped capitalism emerge in Western Europe?” or “How is racial inequality maintained by structural forces?”)
-Pick two related sociological frameworks (make sure you can clearly articulate the similarity between them. Do they focus on the same topic? Do they similarly take a structural or a cultural approach? Are they both focused on micro phenomenon?)
-Summarize each theoretical framework, as if the reader is unfamiliar with them
-Compare and contrast each framework to the other. How do they approach the social world similarly? In what ways are they different? Make sure that you explore why these similarities/differences are meaningful in relation to the research question you have posed (ex. Does one theory fall flat because it neglects to answer a question another theory addresses? Is one theory really good at answering part of your empirical question, and another theory good at addressing an additional component of it? Etc.)
-Reference 4 peer-reviewed sources that help illuminate your argument. These sources may help you make comparisons between your two theories, or perhaps provide empirical evidence that one theory is equipped to answer your research question than the other.
For example, if my paper’s research question is “what social forces helped capitalism emerge in Western Europe?” I might choose to focus on Marxism and The Protestant Ethic as my theoretical frameworks. Over the course of the paper, I will compare and contrast how Marx and Weber each approach this question. What lenses do they each use (i.e. structure vs. culture)? In your opinion, does one theorist focus on a social element that the other neglects?
Whatever theories you choose, your paper should formulate a specific argument about these two theories rather than simple summarizing their differences. To help you make this argument, use your 4 peer-reviewed sources to support your points. For example, is there an academic paper out there that debunks Weber’s framework by showing capitalism emerged outside of Europe, and therefore didn’t rely on Protestant values? How does this paper support Marx’s argument that capitalist inequality is a structural problem, rather than a cultural one centered on religion?