The History of Sociological Theory

The History of Sociological Theory

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Format MLA
Academic Level: –
Volume of 6 pages (1650 words)
Assignment type : Essay

You must answer two questions, one from each of the two
sections and each answer should be labeled by question number and placed in the order in which it was asked. Each
answer should be roughly 3 pages long but no more than 4 pages. Each answer should also contain at least two direct
references to or quotes from the readings. For example, you might say: “by and large he sees this as something that
benefits society in general (Smith, p.4).” The questions are weighted equally.
Section A: Answer 1 or 2
1. The two theoretical perspectives we have read about and discussed thus far (RCT and Marxism) have attempted to
explain the modern division of labor in one way or another. Explain why this is an important topic for a general social
theory to address. Then compare and contrast the basic views of two perspectives with respect to the modern division of
labor. For each of the two perspectives, discuss: where the division of labor comes from (its origins), its functions, and its
consequences for workers and the larger society. Which account is more convincing? Why?
2. Consider a job that you or someone close to you has worked at. Now discuss and analyze that job using Marx’s
concept of alienation. In what ways and to what extent does Marx’s analysis of alienation help you understand the nature
of that job? Include in your analysis a discussion of how Marx’s ideas on alienation are connected his analysis of the
larger division of labor. What do you think Smith would have to say about this sort of Marxist analysis of alienated jobs
and the division of labor?
Section B: Answer 3 or 4
3. Both rational choice theory (RCT) and Marxist theory are understood to be “conflict” theories. That is, both put power
at the center of their analysis of how social order is achieved and how order works. Compare and contrast the two
perspectives’ understandings and uses of the concept of power, including how they relate to the individual—society
question. Illustrate your essay with examples and discuss which usage of the term you find more compelling and why.
4. We are in the midst of a great national debate about the extent to which the government should intervene in a free
market economy. Some have argued that unregulated capitalist markets have produced the incredible amount of
inequality we currently see in the U.S. and the world, and the political instability across the globe. Therefore, these critics
say, the government should step in with rules and regulations that protect people from the unchecked greed of rich Wall
Street bankers and speculators and that the government should provide all Americans with access to affordable health care
insurance. Others, however, still maintain a faith in unregulated markets and believe that such interventions in the market
are harmful to both individuals and society. In your essay, analyze this debate using rational choice concepts and claims
(about the invisible hand, the role of the state, human nature) and Marxist theoretical concepts and claims (about class
conflict, surplus value, and the role of the state). Conclude by discussing where your own beliefs and preferences fall on
these theoretical issues.


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