Sociology Theory Development: Final Paper|| Term Paper


Take-Home Essays



Your papers should be approximately six typed, double-spaced pages. (This is total pages, not per each question.  If you write more, that is fine.)    Each question should be clearly marked so that I know what I am reading!


Remember to pay attention to the form (grammar, punctuation, spelling, and organization) as well as the content (clarity, precision, and accuracy of ideas) of your answers.


If your answers to each question overlap too much, you will lose points.


Upload into Sakai on or before May 8.


Part I:   Choose ONEof the following questions (1 or 2):


  1. Of the following–Marx, Durkheim, or Dubois–which of these theorists do you think is most important to society today?     Why is this person’s work still so relevant?     Are there any aspects of their work that you feel are less important?


  1. With the individual/collective and rational/nonrational graph in mind (Textbook p.16), choose two theorists who fall in different quadrants on the graph and evaluate the differences between their theoretical frameworks. (Hint:  give a brief overview of their perspectives and then evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of their approaches.)


Part II:   Choose any TWO of the following questions (3, 4, or 5):


  1. Use the conceptual tools of Weber, Martineau, DuBois, or Mead to “make sense” of

some aspect of life at Rutgers University.  (Choose TWO of these theorists only.)


  1. First, briefly explain how Jane Addams envisioned social change. Next, choose any ONE

other theorist we have studied this semester.    What commonalities or differences exist in terms of their ideas about the future?


  1. First, compare and contrast Marx’s ideas about class consciousness with Durkheim’s notion of the collective consciousness. Next, explain some aspect of the current health using these concepts.  (There is no right or wrong answer to this second part.  Creativity is encouraged.)





If you were slated to do a presentation that you are no longer are no longer able to complete, these questions are for you.   Choose TWO.    (Answers should be about 2 to 3 paragraphs each.)



  1. Write an essay that explores the current health crisis that we are experiencing. You can focus on any aspect of our global situation.   Just be sure to include the ideas of one or two theorists who we have explored this semester.


For example, if you wish to use shopping during the pandemic as an example, perhaps you could creatively apply Mead’s ideas on symbolic interaction?    You might also consider, using Weber’s ideas on forms of authority to analyze how national and state or local leaders are handling the crisis.    There are also many possibilities in terms of applying Marx’s ideas about labor, Gilman’s ideas about household work, or DuBois on the impact of race.       Be creative.  Just make sure that you demonstrate your understanding of key concepts in their work.



  1. Using Weber’s ideas on bureaucracy and forms of authority, write a two-paragraph analysis of the attached OP-ED piece from the New York Times, “The Stimulus Is Playing Hard to Get” (Tuesday, April 14, 2020, p.A27).https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/opinion/coronavirus-stimulus-relief.html




  1. Explain Mead’s theory of “taking the attitude of the other,” paying attention to how it might be related to issues of race, class, and gender. Discuss the relevance of Mead’s ideas to DuBois’s discussion of the color line and Gilman’s discussion of gender.






Optional Extra credit:  (3 points each possible)

  1. In a couple of sentences, According to Durkheim, when might the division of labor in systems characterized by organic solidarity (advanced, modern) become problematic?


  1. The theorists who we have explored this semester all have underlying views of human nature. For Marx, all people need meaningful work.  DuBois’s belief is that all human beings have souls (that is, deep down we are beautiful, redeemable, valuable, equal). Durkheim’s assumptions include the notion that all people are inherently social, while Addams’s view is that people are not born good or bad,but are shaped through community involvement.


What’s your view?   Is there any inherent quality about our shared humanity?


Part 1:


With regard to Durkheim, Du Bois, and Marx, I strongly believe that David Durkheim is the most important theorist to society today. Much of this can be accredited by the fact that with reference to Du Bois and Marx; Durkheim’s theory highlights both theories. Nonetheless, David Durkheim was a french sociologist who established sociology as an academic discipline. He was particularly concerned with how societies could uphold their coherence and integrity in modernity (Turner, 2003).This is when traditional religious and social ties are no longer followed and new social institutions have come conceived. His theories were founded on social fact concepts defined as social structures, values, and norms. David’s sociologist perspective differed from others as his theories were founded on external things rather than internal ones like individual desire or motivations. Collective consciousness, rules, and values are therefore essential to a functional society. Some of his theories include functionalism and labor division (Turner, 2003). With this, functionalism emphasizes on a societal equilibrium. The society should, therefore, be described and analyzed in terms of functions. This is because society is an interrelated system part where one part must function with the other. The labor division theory focuses on societies shifts from a simple to a complex one. Moreover, the theory states that traditional societies are characterized by homogenous people who shared the same values, backgrounds, and religious beliefs. However, modern societies are characterized by complex beliefs, labor division, and backgrounds. In addition, the traditional society social norms were strong, collective consciousness ruled, and social behavior was regulated (Turner, 2003). The modern society’s social norms are not strong, collective consciousness no longer rules, and social behavior is poorly regulated. The fact that Durkheim’s theories were socially influenced and his theories are being socially applied today makes his work relevant. His work has been used in companies to help in the labor division while functionalism has been used to maintain social equilibrium in countries where people disagree.
Part 2:

  1. To comprehend how Jane Addams envisioned social change, it is important to note what she stood for in the social sector to later on influence change. As a result, she was an activist plus a social reformer who handled different social aspects like peace advocacy, politics, prostitution views, suffrage, education, and social reforms. For instance, in peace advocacy, her work was influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s writings. She advocated for peace stating its better to patiently correct the wrong than battle (Hamington, 2009). This was particularly during the 1st World War when a few progressives opposed the war. Jane found herself in politics in Chicago as she worked to purge out corrupt alderman Johnny Powers who did not recognize the best immigrant’s interests. In addition, she also wrote a book about prostitution hence becoming a custodian of sexual purity. She insisted if women earned steady salary prostitution will not be practiced and that if women were allowed to vote, they would vote against the practice. She also advocated for suffrage and was focused on women’s rights. In educational reforms, she persuaded the city to build a school in the Hull House neighborhood and advocated for educational initiatives (Hamington,2009).In her social reform, she advocated for organized labor and pushed to eliminate poverty. She took the mediator role, spoke, and wrote regarding the labor topic. This was in order to educate the public and not only assisted to improve the immigrant’s condition but African Americans as well. With contrast to Durkheim, similarities can be seen by the fact that all ideologies were focused on the improvement of society. On the other hand, differences are only highlighted by the fact that Jane’s ideologies were choosy but Durkheim was all rounded.


With respect to Marx’s ideology, class consciousness is the set of beliefs that an individual holds about their social class, the class structure, and interests. According to him, it is an awareness that can spark a revolution altering it from a property less man, wage-earning into the ruling class (Laclau, 2012). Durkheim’s ideology on collective consciousness is the shared ideas, beliefs, and moral attitudes that function as a unifying force within society. It, therefore, does not depict moral conscience but rather the shared understanding of social norms. With this, it is essential to note that class conscience deals with an individual belief in society while collective conscience deals with the social beliefs in society. As a result, class consciousness is characterized by people of a common class who come together to push their ideologies or interests (Laclau, 2012). Collective consciousness is characterized by people in the same community coming together to push society’s interests. Some current health aspects can be explained using Marx and Durkheim’s ideologies. For instance, in the health fraternity, class consciousness can be highlighted in the hospital setup. Today, we have private and public patients. Private patients are people who can afford the best room in the hospital and services. Public patients are normal people who have issues getting or paying for health insurance. In the hospital, private patients receive high-quality services, and their rooms are usually separated from the rest to give a distinctive difference between the two groups. Collective consciousness can also be depicted in a health care set up as public patients. This is because the majority of society falls into this category (Turner, 2003).Due to this, people are aware they receive low-quality services as compared to the rich. They, therefore, converge together to fight for their right to high-quality health care services which can be seen in constitutions.
Part 3:

  1. Currently, the world is experiencing a health crisis brought about Covid-19 pandemic. The crisis is a result of less protective gear for health workers, fewer doctors or nurses, and inadequate equipment plus space to treat a large number of infected people. Health resources are therefore being stretched in different countries to try and control the situation. With respect to the David Durkheim theory, the first theory being highlighted is functionalism as it focuses on a societal equilibrium. As a result, if something happens and disrupts the order plus system flow; society must adjust to get a stable state (Turner, 2003).In this pandemic, Covid-19 has disrupted how we normally socialize on a daily basis. The society has been forced to adjust with the pandemic in an effort to prevent the spread and death. In addition, the society could not have effectively done this without the medical fraternity assistance on what to do. The medical fraternity part of the society hereby interrelates to save lives, prevent new infections, and research for a vaccine. Marx’s theory can also be applied with respect to class consciousness. This can be supported by the fact that when Covid-19 started, there were circulating theories that the virus only affects the rich people. The disease was fueled by the fact that when the disease started, it affected the most advanced countries financially. This is a clear indication that people still apply the Marx theory in their daily social interaction worldwide. Nonetheless, this was not the case after the medical fraternity confirmed that the virus does not choose its host. The medical fraternity also advised the society accordingly stating these rumors could increase the health crisis being faced if people do not observe cleanliness, wear masks, gloves, and self-quarantine due to ignorance.

George Mead was a sociologist who believed that people develop self-images via interactions with other people. In addition, he argued that the self-part of an individual personality consists of self-image and self-awareness plus a social experience product. The most important Mead’s work include the pragmatism philosophy and social behaviorism (Côté, 2015). With this, it is essential to note that Mead’s theory can be related to issues of class, gender, and race. All these entities are created by people who are more observant in their inner self that they forget about others. Most of the time than not issues in these entities are created by the lack of people’s patience or interest to interact with others. As a result, people start developing certain mindsets regarding these entities. Moreover, due to the fact that one has not interacted with the opposite gender, race, and class; individuals get to believe anything they are told irrespective of whether it has adverse or positive effects. In return, this brings enmity and trustworthy issues among other examples, if these issues are not seriously addressed (Côté, 2015). Mead’s idea is hereby relevant to DuBois color line discussion as it highlights how race has been an issue since the colonial time to date and its effects. Gilman’s gender discussion is also relevant to Mead’s idea as it highlights gender inequality which has been a controversial topic since time in memorial. Both entities are therefore relevant to Meads’s idea as they highlight the adverse nature brought about people not interacting to understand each other. Individuals should hereby observe Mead’s theory to have a better understanding of how to interact with people from a different race, gender, and class.

Optional Extra Credit
It is important to note that all theorists covered have underlying views regarding human nature. From Marx, Du Bois, Durkheim, and Addams, all these theorists did meaningful work in their respective theories. When generalized in this form, it becomes hard to chose whose theory is useful or meaningful. Much of this is accredited by the fact that all theories serve an essential part in explaining how humans can coexist efficiently and effectively (Giddens, 1971). It will be incorrect to state that all the theorists’ remarks on human nature are existent in every individual worldwide. This is because people differ from one person to the other and so does society. It will, however, be correct to state that the theorists’ views can be found in some individuals and society. This will particularly depend on society’s political, cultural, or religious beliefs which influence most social aspects of people around the world. None of the theories should, therefore, be ignored or looked down upon, as each theory assists us in solving various social problems. We should hereby apply each theory based on where it is socially effective in a positive way (Giddens, 1971). Consequently, there are inherent qualities that we share as humans. The first one is depicted by Du Bois’s belief that all human beings have souls while the last one is highlighted by Durkheim’s assumption that we are inherently social.




Côté, J. F. (2015). George Herbert Mead’s concept of society: A critical reconstruction. Routledge.

Giddens, A. (1971). Capitalism and modern social theory: An analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber. Cambridge University Press.

Hamington, M. (2009). The social philosophy of Jane Addams. University of Illinois Press.

Laclau, E. (2012). Politics and ideology in Marxist theory: Capitalism, fascism, populism. Verso Trade.

Turner, S. (Ed.). (2003). Emile Durkheim: sociologist and moralist. Routledge.