Posted in General Sociology

A level – writing in a critical style

Sumera has asked me to write a quick post about writing essays in a more analytical and precise style. Hopefully, this will help you adopt a more effective and concise essay writing style particularly when under the pressure of timed exam conditions. Here are my tips:

  • Try to analyse and/or evaluate the information that you are discussing. A quick and easy way to do this is by using adjectives such as: comprehensive, exhaustive, perceptive, thoughtful, limited, outdated, deterministic, persuasive, presumptuous, authoritative etc. For example:                                                                                                                    There is much contemporary evidence to support Neo-functionalist, Robert Bellah’s perceptive argument that the United States has “an elaborate and well-instituted civil religion”.
  • The first sentence of every paragraph should often link to the last paragraph using connectives: , such as ‘however’, ‘consequently’, ‘moreover’, ‘a contrary explanation is that’, ‘although’, ‘as a consequence’, ‘as a result’, ‘accordingly’, ‘an equally significant aspect of…’, ‘another, significant factor in…’, ‘by the same token’, ‘but we should also consider’, ‘despite these criticisms’, ‘consequently’, ‘correspondingly’, ‘conversely’, ‘despite these criticisms’, ‘evidently’, ‘importantly’, ‘notably’,  etc…
  • Link the first sentence to the question. This will immediately demonstrate that you are not merely presenting information, you are applying it. For example, if the essay was asking you to evaluate the contribution of Marxism to our understanding of the role of religion in contemporary society, you might write something like:                       It is perhaps easy to dismiss Karl Marx’s analysis of the role of religion as overly deterministic and unable to understand the complexities of a late or postmodern society such as the UK. However, Neo-Marxists offer a more relevant and all encompassing model…
Posted in A2 crime and deviance, A2 Sociology: Religion, AS Sociology: Family, General Sociology

Y13 trip to University of Sussex

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Hopefully everyone will agree that the trip to the University of Sussex gave you all a taste of university life but most importantly, two fantastic sociology lectures. Personally, I was particularly riveted by the first lecture by Dr Ben Fincham. Using Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler and in particular, Iris Marion Young (who he claimed is a “genius”), he really broke down gender to highlight how masculinity offers males an advantage in life and conversely femininity imposes limits on what most women can achieve. For Young the example of how many girls throw is the perfect example of how females are socialised into acting in an inferior way – throwing a ball badly. There is nothing genetically predisposed that means a female should throw a ball like a shot put but this is something that is taught.

Another good example of this is how males and females sit. Many males stretch out or sit with a wide posture, they effectively own the space around them. On the other hand, females often sit with their legs crossed or together, so unlike the men, they are inhibited and are filling as little space as possible. Again, this is an example of gendered learnt behaviour and cleverly encapsulates the limitations of femininity.

Here is the Vice magazine article that Ben (The Professor of Fun!) mentioned:

The second lecture delivered by Dr Paul McGuiness was also very interesting. Discussing Bentham’s panopticon prison he utilised Michel Foucault to help him consider how these ideas could be applied to contemporary society. For example, it could be argued that with greater governmental powers to monitor internet usage many British modify their behaviour for fear of being watched. This is crucial to Bentham’s panopticon prison idea with the central guard station being positioned in the centre of the prison with very small slits for the guards to look out of. Thus the prisoners could not know for sure if they are being watched, therefore they would have to regulate their behaviour just in case they were.

Also, remember that Jaques Donzelot applied the ideas of Foucault to the family. He argued that government policy could be considered a form of state control over families because surveillance is taking place. For Donzelot, a policing of families is taking place because doctors, teachers and social workers are all implementing these policies and to control and change families.

Dr McGuinnness also considered the role of prison. Is it there to punish or rehabilitate inmates or does it exist to deter the public at large. Interestingly, using a Marxist perspective he argued that if capitalism was replaced by socialism perhaps prison would be unnecessary…



Posted in A2 crime and deviance, A2 Sociology: Crime and Deviance, A2 Sociology: Religion, AS Sociology: Education, AS Sociology: Family, GCSE Sociology, General Sociology, Uncategorized

Essay writing: critical links

#In addition to discursive markers, critical links help you evaluate the previous point/views/theories/evidence (A02 at A level). These will illustrate that you are attempting to evaluate. You could also use some of the following expressions to help you structure your essay answers:

  • An alternative theory to…view…was developed by…who…stated that…..
  • A major criticism of the…view is….
  • A major weakness of the…theory is….
  • Whereas the…view focuses on…the…view explores….
  • Analysis may stretch further when examining….
  • Although the…theory is supported by a variety of evidence, certain evidence contradicts the theory
  • A different explanation of…. Has been offered by…
  • A major strength of the…theory is….
  • Once a paragraph has been introduced, the following points may help you structure the paragraph. A paragraph must contain the following features…..
  • It should be attempting to make one point
  • It should begin with an opening sentence, which expresses the main point; the opening sentence might well link with previous paragraphs.
  • Support sentences should follow. These support sentences should include…. An example if applicable. In addition, a brief mention of further examples could be included to broaden the scope of the main point.
  • Finally, the paragraph should end with a concluding sentence. This may well clarify your main point and can help lead into the next paragraph.