Section One: Defining the Problem and Introduction
This section of your paper should be 2-3 pages in length. This section will provide a background of the topic that you select as a major social issue. For example, you may want to examine an area of social inequality related to poverty, education, family, crime, immigration etc. This section of the paper will examine the historical development of this problem as it has impacted specific social groups. As you begin to construct this section, consider the basic questions of who, what, when and where? For example:
Who are the groups of people in society that have been affected by the inequality and social problem that you have selected? Have these been specific groups based on age, race, gender, sexuality, ableism etc? What sociological conditions explain why some groups have been more disadvantaged to experience this form of inequality?
What has been the response and reactions to this problem from the group that has been most impacted and from other groups? What has been the organizational or institutional response from various “opposing” groups in response to the concern of social inequality? For example, if you are writing about voter suppression, how have groups responded to being accused of suppressing the vote of marginalized populations?
What precipitating factors led up to this issue of social inequality? In other words, what social, historical, economic and political conditions contributed to this form on social inequality? Areas of social inequality do not merely happen by accident. Inequality patterns are deeply institutionalized and integrated into long standing social arrangements that reflect power, status and authority of dominant groups over minority groups.
Where is this issue most prevalent in society? For example, is the problem more concentrated in the southern, northeastern, western or another section of the United States? In addition, is the social inequality issue more prevalent in urban or rural areas of the United States? How can this issue be analyzed from a global perspective? What explanation can you deduce from the literature regarding why certain geographical areas may have populations that experience this form of social inequality?
When did this form of social inequality gain national or international attention? Who have been some of the instrumental individuals and organizations to give a voice to this form of inequality?
Section Two: Literature Review
This section of your paper should be 2-3 pages in length. This section will provide a review of at least ten sources related to your topic. The review should include a combination of books and journal articles on the topic.
The purpose of a literature review is to:
Review a range of scholarly writings on your selected research topic.
Examine the background of existing research related to your topic. This will include multiple sources. It is not enough to merely read five or six articles. You must become “immersed” in the readings.
Identify the “big ideas” as presented in the literature and make these the sub headings in your literature review. For example, if I am researching the topic of juvenile delinquency, the bold sub headings in my literature review section may include, family background, educational experiences, and labelling. I would then have to include, under each sub heading an overview of scholars whose work discussed those themes. Think of this process as a way of compartmentalizing specific topics that help to explain why something is happening as it relates to your topic.
Identify patterns that stretch across the readings. What do researchers tend to agree upon as it relates to your topic? What are the common themes that you continue to find across many resources on this topic? You know that you are completing a well-structured review when you see common threads that connect the material from author to author. These are the themes that you want to present in your literature review.
Section Three: Theoretical Framework
This section of your paper should be 2-3 pages in length. This section will require you to discuss a specific sociological theory that explains the form of inequality that you have selected. Provide a detailed background of the theory that includes the social theorist associated with the theory and basic premise of the theory. Explain how the theory provides a “frame” through which to examine and analyze the social inequality issue that you have selected. Highlight key concepts, related to the theory, that recount social inequality. There are many theories in the discipline of sociology that extend beyond conflict, structural functional, and symbolic interaction. However, those theories are certainly acceptable for your theoretical framework.
Section Four: Case Study
This section of your paper should be 2-3 pages in length. This section will require you to present information on a specific case related to the pattern of social inequality presented in your report. For example, if you are researching the topic of police brutality, you could examine and present information from the Michael Brown shooting death in August of 2014. Your review of the case should include details regarding the people who were involved and the outcomes of the case. In addition, this section of the paper should highlight the “human” aspect of your selected form of social inequality. Data and statistics are important for good research. However, this section of your report should focus on the individuals and how they became a part of a larger system of social inequality.
Section Five: Policy Review
Just as policies can cause or contribute to forms of social inequality (consider stop and frisk and the three strikes law) new polices can be developed to combat social problems. All forms of social inequality usually result in organized social and political groups demanding social change and justice. Legislation and the development of a specific policy are measurable ways of addressing or attempting to remedy a social problem.
This part of the paper should be 2-3pages. This part of the assignment will give you the opportunity to develop competence in (a) researching and analyzing social policy legislation, (b) developing and articulating a position on a given policy, and (c) designing social work advocacy agendas.
You will write about a related piece of legislation based on the general area that you have selected for this final assignment. For example, if you are writing about health care, you may want to review aspects of the Patient Care and Affordability Act. If you are writing about educational reform, then you may want to discuss No Child Left Behind. This part of the assignment should be factual and evidence-based, and should clearly articulate a recommendation or position on the issue. As you write this part of the paper, consider the following:
Your policy review section should include the following components:
Selecting a policy:
Provide an overview of the policy that you have selected. What is the history of the policy? For whom was the policy intended?
What was the intended goal or purpose of the policy? What government or non-government organizations were involved in making this decision? Which ones were not involved?
Implementing the policy:
What agency or organization implemented the policy? Was the policy implemented according to original design?
Has the agency changed or skewed the policy to reflect its own interests and goals?
In your opinion, could another agency have implemented the policy better?
Evaluating the policy
Provide measurable evidence to indicate the overall effectiveness of the policy. Did the policy achieve its goals?
Section Six: Your Reflections and Recommendations:
This part of your project should be 1-2 pages. After spending a semester completing this project, I am certain that you will have recommendations regarding how to best address the issue that you have researched. This section will provide you with an opportunity to share your personal reflections on your research process. In addition, please provide your list of economic, political or social recommendations that you believe could assist in successfully resolving the problem.
Section Seven: Conclusion:
This part of the report should be 2-3 pages and provide closing comments regarding your research. What was learned during your research development? What were the emerging themes that contribute to this form of social inequality? What groups and organizations are attempting to address this social issue? The conclusion should also include your recommendations for future research and programs to address the problem.
Section One: Defining the Problem and Introduction