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1000 – 1500 Words (No More, No Less)

Please note: essays on the following topics will not be accepted: Marriage, School, and Prison


Over the last couple weeks we have discussed the work of Emile Durkheim and other structural functionalist in great detail. For this assignment, please choose a formal institution (preferably one that interests you), and analyze it from a functionalist perspective. Specifically, your paper should do the following:

1) Explain why the social institution you are writing about exists (i.e. identify and explain its MANIFEST FUNCTION, or what it was designed to do FOR SOCIETY);

2) Identify, explain, and discuss at least TWO of its LATENT FUNCTIONS or any unintended outcomes it might produce in SOCIETY;

3) Explain the concept ANOMIE. Discuss why it is important and provide an example of your institution in a state of ANOMIE; AND

4) Finally, discuss what you think about Durkheim’s theory. Does it offer an insightful way of thinking about the institution you are writing about? Why or why not?. Please be sure to defend your arguments – i.e. explain why you think what you think about Durkheim’s work.

Please note: A well-crafted essay will do more than just list manifest and latent functions, rather it will IDENTIFY and EXPLAIN each concept and discuss HOW that particular institution fulfills its functions and BENEFITS THE LIFE AND HEALTH OF ALL OF SOCIETY, NOT JUST INDIVIDUALS.

A Few Words of Advice:

When writing this essay don’t assume that your reader is a sociologist and understands the jargon like you do. It is your job to explain what each of the concepts you apply mean. A good strategy is to imagine you’re writing this paper for a friend who knows nothing about sociology and it is your job to explain the concepts, how they work, and relate to one another.

Also, please don’t overthink the assignment. I realize that you are not professional sociologists and that many of these ideas are new to you. The purpose of this assignment is not to test your knowledge or freak you out, but to get you to THINK CREATIVELY AND TRY OUT SOME OF THE TOOLS YOU’RE DEVELOPING IN THIS CLASS. I’m simply asking you to tell me how Durkheim’s theory works using an example of your choice. As such, I suggest that you try to keep things simple. Don’t choose something bizarre, complicated, and subsequently, extremely difficult to write about. The point is, there’s no pressure – just do your best to share with your reader what you’ve learned. The assigned articles by Gans and Eitzen are a good point of reference if you get stuck.

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