Community Analysis

Community Analysis

Final Essay
Value: 40%
Due date: 16-Oct-2015
Return date: 06-Nov-2015
Length: 2000
Submission method options
EASTS (online)

Choose one of the case studies from topics 9-12 (rural youth suicide, family transition to rural living, environmental impacts on communities, work in and for communities, and the virtual community) and use the theory you explored in Part B of the second essay to critically analyse and explore the case. You may choose different theory, concepts or ideas, but please make sure that you consult your subject coordinator if you do so. Your subject coordinator will ask you to provide evidence that you have understood the new ideas well enough to apply them to your case.
Your task is to write a well researched essay applying the theory, concepts and ideas you wrote about in Part B of your second assessment to the case study in 2000 words. There is a 10% margin below and above the 2000 word limit. Any more than 2200 words (10% above) or below 1800 (10% below) the word limit will incur a penalty of between 5 and 15 marks depending on the severity of the word limit breach.

In your essay you will need to make a case for how the theory, concepts or ideas can help to explain or solve the problems presented in the case study. You may also choose to argue that the theory, concepts or ideas do not help you to understand the case. Your essay will need to be carefully structured and researched. It is strongly advised that you use the feedback from your first assessment and part B of your second assessment to inform your writing and research for this essay.

One of the main tasks of the community analyst is to apply theory to real world examples. When a sociologist undertakes such a task we look to the existing research about a subject and try to establish what the social and cultural problems are in the context we are trying to understand. When we apply theory, we quite often find that we need to apply or use a combination of theories. Sometimes the theory that we apply can help us not only understand what is going on, but also give us a solution to the problems people in the context (or event) are facing.
Your essay is therefore asking you to think about a particular theory (or theories) and investigate what that theory can and can’t say about a particular case. Effectively, we are asking you to analyse a case study, and think about a theory or theories critically.

Another reason you are asked to write this essay is because sociologists need to have good communication skills, particularly writing skills. We rarely get the opportunity to present our findings to a group of people face to face, instead having to write our ideas, assessments, analysis and conclusions in either reports or journal articles. Sometimes we have to write to the people we are studying in order that they are informed of what we have discovered as well. Therefore, writing skills are very important to the sociologist. We need to be able to argue that what we have discovered is reasonable, reliable and worth hearing; we also need to be able to argue that the solution we have found for a group of people is a better option than what they have now, or might be told by someone else. Therefore, being able to write down our critical thinking and argument in a way that other people can understand becomes very important.

Marking criteria
Your essay will be assessed according to 9 Standards:

1. Knowledge and understanding of theory or theories. This is your chance to show that you have met learning outcomes 1 and 2. That is you are able to understand the structure, processes and factors influencing social life in communities and can examine these sociologically.

2. Knowledge and understanding of the case study. This standard is your opportunity to show that you can identify problems in communities (Learning outcome 3)

3. Application of the theory to the case study. This standard refers to the your capacity to use theory to assess problems in communities and use sociological ideas to solve those problems (learning outcome 4)

4. Capacity to assess the merits of a theory (analysis) and its value to the case (application). Here we are looking for how well you can say you can analyse sociologically (learning outcome 2) and use the theory and concepts (learning outcome 3).

5. The structure of your essay (logic of your argument). In all our involvement with communities, we need to be able to communicate clearly and logically. Thus, writing style and communications skills are important parts of being able to solve problems. This assessment is therefore an opportunity to develop those skills and directly relates to identifying community problems and solving or alleviating the affect of them (learning outcome 3).

6. Quality of your additional research. As sociologists working in communities, we often need to understand a broad range of existing research and ways others have responded to problems. By being able to research widely in quality peer reviewed literature we are better equipped to deal with these problems. It also means we can justify our judgements and make an argument for our intervention or action (analysis and evaluation). Thus it is important to be able to access quality research. Achieving well in your research means you can show you have met learning outcomes 3 and 4.

7. Writing (paragraphing, sentence structure, clarity). Again, communicating with people is important and high level writing skills helps to do that. By developing your writing you are again showing you have met learning outcome 3.

9. Referencing and formatting (APA style, always referenced where and idea is presented that is not your own). As sociologists and community analysts, we need to be able to acknowledge where our ideas came from, therefore good referencing is essential for being a good sociologist, and shows we have met learning outcome 2.

The following Rubric (also available in the folder “Additional information and resources” on the subject interact 2 site) shows how these standards are applied to the grading system.

Additional Info:
I know that many of you will now be looking to Assessment 3 as we approach the final weeks of the semester. Topics 9 to 12 are related specifically to this final assessment. There are two important resources you should read thoroughly in the first instance. The first is the question itself (as provided in the subject outline). This should be read in conjunction with the introduction to Topic 9 which explains how the final weeks of the subject are structured to assist you in developing your final essay.

Each week (Weeks 9 to 12) considers different ‘case studies’ via the required reading for the subject. For example, whilst the general topic of Week 9 is rural communities, the Bourke article specifically looks at youth suicide. The idea is to use one of these readings or ‘cases’ as a starting point for your essay topic. So, in Week 9, the Bourke article provides a ‘starting point’ for considering youth suicide in rural communities. If this happens to be the topic you select for your final essay, you are then required to do further research around this area. You may want to alter the topic slightly to suit your particular interests (narrow or broaden the focus) … for example, rather than youth suicide, you may want to consider suicide in rural communities in another age group – this is up to you – as long as you make it clear in your introduction what your topic is (you don’t want your marker to be half-way through the paper still trying to determine what your focus is).

NOW, the key to this paper is applying theory to make sense of your ‘case’ – that is to explore and explain your case. As is stated in the Topic 9 section of your study guide (and in the question in your subject outline), this essay offers an opportunity and seeks to assess your ability to both understand and APPLY theory. So the theory needs to be a substantive part of your essay. What you need to avoid is writing an essay on the ‘case’ alone – you must apply theory to make sense of the case.

Now, the essay question in your exam was set up to start you thinking closely about theory. That said, there is room to move in terms of your final essay. You may find, after closer reading and research, that you would like to apply a different theory – or another is more suited. The essay is flexible in this respect, just ensure you have a good understanding of the theories you are planning to apply. Of course, I am here to help in this respect.

Reading through the study guide is a good way to understand how the theory can be applied to make sense of a ‘case’. For example, in relation to the youth suicide article, sociological concepts of social exclusion might be utilised, or social capital. Perhaps a theory of individualisation can be considered. As you conduct further research into your chosen area, you may come across other theories – or think back to the many theories that have been discussed in the first half of the course. It is just important that you define and show why the theory is applicable in answering the question (and in terms of community analysis).

Remember to post any questions you may have on the forum. As I said, have a good read over the study guide, read the required readings and look at how the application of theory is being modelled for you over Weeks 9 to 12.

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