A sociological Memoir (Social class, Gender, Race, and Society)


Assignment Description and Instructions: The sociological imagination challenges one to see how an individual biography is shaped by the larger social contexts of the moment in history—including culture, social relations, economy, opportunity structures, and social institutions. This Sociological Imagination Memoir project asks you to analyze your own life from a sociological perspective. An example of this kind of analysis is represented in Honky, in which sociologist Dalton Conley contextualizes his own life experiences focusing on race and class as powerful forces that shaped his childhood and educational attainment in comparison with the other children from his neighborhood. For your memoir, you should develop a core issue or theme from your life that you will focus on using a sociological lens (some examples are educational experiences or attainment, peer groups, opportunity structures, taken-for-granted culture, work experiences, growing up in a rural or urban setting, an important element of your identity or experience in your life, etc.), and discuss this theme in a specific period of your life (childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood.) Your aim in this project is to put your life in its broader historical, structural and/or cultural context. How has your life experience been shaped by the broader society in which you live, and by your social position in that society? Although the theme of your memoir is up to you, there are specific requirements for your analysis. In using a sociological lens to analyze your life you should develop a discussion of your social class, either race/ethnicity or gender, and one other issue or institution we have covered in class. SOCIAL CLASS—Describe how your social class background has shaped the social contexts of your life pertaining to your theme or core issue of focus. Some questions to consider are: How has class limited or enhanced your life chances and access to important goods in society? How has class shaped the communities you have lived in and the institutions you have had access to? How has class affected your social networks, cultural capital, lifestyles, and worldviews? Be sure to contextualize your life in terms of both the objective and subjective dimensions of class. GENDER OR RACE/ETHNICITY—Apply the sociological insights you have gained from our readings and discussions of race/ethnicity and gender to discuss your own experiences, opportunities, and/or identity. How has the social construction of gender/race and/or gender/racial inequality affected your everyday life, your life chances, and your aspirations?  In considering these questions, you might start by comparing your experiences to someone from a different generation, a different culture, or a different gender or race. ADDITIONAL COURSE ISSUE—You should choose and discuss in your paper at least 1 of the following issues that we cover in this course: family, politics, religion, socialization, presentation of self, immigration, deviance and crime, social movements/activism, sexuality, education, groups or organizations, social networks, bureaucracy, urbanization, work and the economy (you may write about more than 1 of these if you wish, and any of these may be used as a core theme if you wish). Include a reference page at the end of the paper that includes course materials cited, as well as any other sources that you use.

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