Sociological Imagination Family Religious or Civil Marriage Paper

Writing assignment


Pick one to two themes that you want to examine in your family (such as marriage, divorce, cohabitation, parenting, child wellbeing). Examine this theme across at least two generations in your family (such as your parents and your grandparents, your generation (older cousins) and your parents/grandparents). Describe the trend across both generations and discuss why you think it has occurred. Do you expect your experience to be different? Why or why not?

Please note that, per the overall theme of this course, you can and should take an inclusive definition of “family”. That is, you may consider whomever you wish to be a member of your family. For example, some students may choose to write about an adoptive family, friends whom they consider family members, or family members living in another country.

Use your sociological imagination.

“The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals … the idea that the individual can understand his own experience and gauge his own fate only by locating himself within his period, that he can know his own chances in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in his circumstances.”

— C. Wright Mills (1959)

Your analysis must be sociological.

In your paper, be sure to address the following:

  • How does your family’s experience relate to broader trends in the family that we have discussed in class?
  • How has your family’s position in the social structure (such as, race, social class, neighborhood) influenced the trends you are discussing?
  • How do you think your experiences will be similar or different to what you have seen in your family?


The assignment should be three to five pages in length, double-spaced, with 12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, and proper citations (both within the text and with a ‘works cited’ or ‘references’ section). At a minimum, your paper must include the following: (1) a clear introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, (2) body paragraphs that support and extend your thesis statement, and (3) a concluding paragraph that summarizes what you have discussed. Additionally, you must use three resources from outside of class. These resources must be from academic journals (not newspapers or magazines). You may use any style of citation (such as, APA or MLA), but please be consistent throughout the paper. The ‘works cited’ section does not count toward the page limit. You will be graded on your ability to prove your main argument or thesis. You will also be graded on spelling and grammar, as incorrect usage can inhibit your ability to communicate your ideas. Put your last name and student ID number on all pages and number your pages.


Writing Assignment

Criteria Ratings Pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeFollows “big” directions.This includes examining the theme across at least two generations and attempting to answer the three questions posed in the assignment guidelines: (1) relating of family’s trends to broader experiences, (2) family’s position in the social structure (can’t just talk about family as isolated in vacuum; need to locate within larger structural forces; geography, class, immigration; acknowledge things going on larger than family), and (3) expectation of similar or different experiences for themselves.

10.0 pts

Full Marks

Address all three questions clearly.

8.0 pts

Partial Credit

Only address two of the three questions.

6.0 pts

Partial credit

Only addresses one of the three questions.

0.0 pts

No credit

Does not address any of the three questions. Paper is off topic.

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeFollowing “small” directionsThis includes length, font, double spaced, margins, references/works cited, etc. -.5/1 point for each direction that is not followed.

10.0 pts

Full Marks

Follows all the small directions.

0.0 pts

No Marks

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganizationThere are body paragraphs that support the thesis statement.

10.0 pts

Full Marks

Body paragraphs that support the thesis statement in a logical order. A strong, cohesive paper. Topic sentences support thesis and body paragraphs support topic sentences.

9.0 pts

Partial credit

Most of the body paragraphs support the thesis.

8.0 pts

Partial credit

Organization needs work.

0.0 pts

No Marks

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeGrammar & spelling.Paper has been proof-read for grammar and spelling mistakes. -.5/1 for mistakes that are distracting to the reader.

10.0 pts

Full Marks

No grammar or spelling errors.

0.0 pts

No Marks

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeUse of readingsAppropriate use of readings from outside of class. Students who do not using readings from outside of class (or who do not use readings from academic journals) will not receive higher than an 80%. 3 academic sources. You must not only cite academic sources but also engage with them throughout the paper.

20.0 pts

Full Marks

Cites at least three academic sources from outside of class and engages with all materials throughout, correctly.

15.0 pts

Partial credit

Includes two academic sources and/or engagement with material is somewhat limited.

10.0 pts

Partial credit

Includes one academic sources and/or does not engage with cited material.

0.0 pts

No Marks

0.0 pts

No credit

Does not use and/or engage with readings from outside of class.

20.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeIdeas, creativity, addressing the questions.

30.0 pts

Full Marks

Essay has great ideas, is creative, and addresses all three questions exceptionally well.

0.0 pts

No Marks

30.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeThesis statementThesis statement is clearly written.

10.0 pts

Full Marks

Clear argument and thesis.

9.0 pts

Partial credit

Good thesis. Argument is mostly clear.

8.0 pts

Partial credit

Overall clear thesis and argument, but need a bit more work.

0.0 pts

No Marks

10.0 pts

Total Points: 100.0

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