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Is Sociology a Science?

– By the definition, science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment (Oxford dictionary). This crude definition is elaborated further by a world-famous sociologist Anthony Giddens as ‘the scientific study of human social life, groups, and societies. It is dazzling and compelling enterprise, as its subject matter is our own behavior as social beings. The scope of sociological study is extremely wide, ranging from the analysis of passing encounters between individuals on the street to the investigation of global social processes such as the rise of Islamic funda…   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1959 words | (5.6 pages)
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The Three Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

– Introduction Sociologists develop theories to explain and analyze society at different levels and from different perspectives. Sociologists study everything from the micro level of analysis of small social patterns to the “big picture” which is the macro level of analysis of large social patterns. Sociologists employ three major theoretical perspectives in sociology today. They are the structural-functionalist perspective, the conflict perspective, and the symbolic interactionism. The structural-functionalist perspective is done at a macro level and its focus is on the relationships between the parts of society….   [tags: Sociology ]


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1966 words | (5.6 pages)
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What is Sociology?

– What is Sociology. After reviewing the article titles given for this first assignment, I believe they indicate that Sociology, generally speaking, is not only a study of diversity or commonality in traits among people; it is also a science about factors in a person’s life and how these factors culminate responses. Interestingly enough, its topics of concern seem to be directly determined by current and common events of the world. Through the invention and expansion of new ideas, popular trends and fashions through time, Sociology adapts to responsibly to service the very subjects of interest it studies; for, even the slightest change of a person’s daily experience can have an insurmountable…   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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676 words | (1.9 pages)
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Sociology and Religion

– We all have some experience with religion. Whether our parents are religious, our own religious views, or others who try and convert you to a religion, we have all come in contact with a religion. But what do sociology and religion have to do with each other. The answer to this question is that religion meets sociology in the affects that it has on an individual or society (Schaefer, Richard T, 2009, pg 323). What is a religion. A religion is defined by Richard Schaefer as a unified system of beliefs and practices that relate to what is believed to be sacred (Schaefer, Richard T, 2009, pg 323)….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1155 words | (3.3 pages)
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Theories of Sociology

– There are many theories in sociology to get the better understanding of a society. Many things impact an individual’s behaviour, lifestyles, relationship and much more. Technology is one of the many things that affect the people. Internet is used worldwide and we can use sociology to determine what importance and place it holds in the society. To understand this invention and implication the society better, this paper will cover upon the three well-known theories which are’ Conflict, functionalism, and symbolic internationalism theories….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1465 words | (4.2 pages)
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Poverty and Sociology

– In 2010, about 46.2 million people were considered poor. The nation’s poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent, whereas in 2009, 14.3 percent of people in America were living in poverty (Censky, 2011). That is an increase of 2.6 million people in 2010. In the United States, the federal poverty line – an absolute measure of annual income – is frequently used to determine who is categorized as poor (Ferris & Stein, 2008, 2010). Currently the government defines the poverty line as an income of $11,139 for an individual and $22,314 for a family of four (Censky, 2011)….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1330 words | (3.8 pages)
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The Argument of Sociology is Based on Relationships

– Creating a good argument, this is an argument which will persuade the opposing side into accepting that the claim which was made, as well as the grounds of the claim, is different for each social science. It is usual for individuals to pull from their personal experiences, their views, morals, and interpretation of things when formulating an argument. The same goes for the various social sciences. Each social science approaches an argument in a different manner, and gives different aspects of an argument a higher regard….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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Emile Durkheim and The Science of Sociology

– Introduction Emile Durkheim was born in France in April of 1858 and died in November of 1917. He was from a close Jewish community that he continued to be close to even after breaking with the Jewish church. Having come from a long family line of rabbis, he had planned to follow in that profession. Durkheim was known as the Father of Sociology. He was a liberal, a modernist, and a nationalist. He was a very ambitious man; this ambition was illustrated by the accomplishments he made over the course of his life….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1278 words | (3.7 pages)
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The Whos and Whats of Sociology

– 1. The study and science of Sociology is a comparitively new pursuit, as opposed to the general sciences such as physics, archeology and chemistry, that is now being used to explain and help improve our way of life and behaviour. Many benefits are derived from the study of sociology; understanding the social dynamics within communities or certain groups give clarity on why problems and conflicts arise within them, and how those can be solved, as well as impinging upon our individual day to day existence….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1645 words | (4.7 pages)
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Sociology and The Natural Sciences

– Sociology is the study of society as well as the pursuit of knowledge regarding human social activities however, the entity’s legitimacy as a science is a concept worth discussion. Although sociology is different at face value than the natural sciences, the two possess fundamental similarities by which problems are recognized and explained. With the explanation of why sociology is a science, the next step would be to specify what type of science sociology is and how it relates to the natural sciences….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1069 words | (3.1 pages)
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The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

– Sociology of Scientific Knowledge is a relatively new addition to sociology, emerging only several decades ago in the late 1970’s, and focuses on the theories and methods of science. It is seen as a notable success within the fields of sociology and sociology of science. In its infancy, SSK was primarily a British academic endeavor. These days, it is studied and practiced all over the world, with heavy influences in Germany, Scandinavia, Israel, the Netherlands, France, Australia, and North America….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1217 words | (3.5 pages)
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Sociology of Family

– “A family is a small social group of people related by ancestry or affection, who share common values and goals, who may live together in the same dwelling, and who may participate in the bearing and raising of children. They have a physical or emotional connection with each other that is ongoing” (Vissing, 2011) and is the foundation of all societies. They can be formed by a grouping of father-mother-children or even more complicated combination of relatives. In the primary stage of family life in the United States, everyone from every generation lived together in one house….   [tags: Sociology, Family Values ]


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1149 words | (3.3 pages)
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The Dancer’s Gift and Sociology

– “The Dancer’s gift” is a love story between a young man and woman, Marcel and Samantha. But this novel was written not only to call feelings about love and passion; the main goal was to introduce students to sociological concepts. Overall, the book includes more than 180 sociological terms that flow with the story and closely connected to happening events. Marcel, a black man, arrives from Martinique (an island in the Caribbean Sea), and Samantha, a rich American girl, meet each other in college and fall in love….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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904 words | (2.6 pages)
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John Braithwaite’s Influence on Sociology

– I chose to examine John Braithwaite and analyze his major theory on restorative justice and to a lesser extent, peacebuilding in fractured societies. I conducted internet research on Braithwaite and his theories. I found information regarding Braithwaite’s early life and progress into sociology to be scarce. I believe this is not uncommon when dealing with living and active persons who desire privacy in their private lives. Information in regards to Braithwaite’s work, however, is more than ample….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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2070 words | (5.9 pages)
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Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Sociology

– The theoretical works of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber still influence sociological theory. Though their works are decades old they still are a major part of what sociology is today. Though their theories can seem very different, there are some similarities. To become a great sociologist one most learn and understands how to use all sociological perspectives. To do this one must understand and use the different theoretical perspectives created by Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. Karl Marx theoretical perspective on conflict is by far one the most interesting theories in sociology….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1667 words | (4.8 pages)
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The Major Theories of Sociology

– Symbolic Interactionism In the field of sociology, sociologists use many different theories to base their ideas and observations on; however, the three major theories that are used are symbolic interactionism, functional analysis, and conflict theory. It is these three theories that will be the focus of this paper. To begin with, we will start with symbolic interactionism. Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead developed symbolic interactionism. In order to understand what this theory is all about though, we will look at the definition….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1216 words | (3.5 pages)
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What Makes Sociology Different?

– Before commencing a discussion on analyzing the article “What makes sociology a different discipline” from the other sciences we should have the know-how about sociology. In the words of modern thinkers of sociology namely Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim “Social fact should be the subject matter for the study of social life and can provide explanations for human thinking and behavior (p19)”. What we infer from the above definition is that man is born as a social animal. Man cannot live alone….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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842 words | (2.4 pages)
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Sociology vs. Cultural Anthropology

– The research methods in sociology and anthropology are similar yet follow a specific set of guidelines for each. Each field approaches research in a similar fashion but the methodology and intentions can differ. The differences reflect the distinct differences that are present in sociology and anthropology. The way that an anthropologist approaches a problem and attempts to solve it is different than a sociologist because of the discerning basis of their knowledge. Some of the research methods require a researcher to be up close and personal with subjects while in other methods the subject don’t even realize they are being observed….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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943 words | (2.7 pages)
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Sociology and Common Sense

– Explain the difference between a “common sense” and a “sociological” view of human behaviour, giving relevant examples. Sociology is a social science that enables people to understand the structure and dynamics of society. By using a scientific approach, and by critically analysing society using qualitative and quantitative methods, sociologists can find patterns and connections within human behaviour to provide explanations of how society affects people. Sociological views are based on theories that have been tested through unbiased research and attempt to take all values into account….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1536 words | (4.4 pages)
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Urban Sociology: The Underclass

– What does the concept of the underclass refer to. Pay particular attention to the work of W. J. Wilson or similar contributions to urban sociology. The following essay will examine various analyses on the concept of underclass, particularly in relation to American society. It will put forward the main definitions and characteristics of the theories that are attempting to define and understand underclass. A historical definition will be given introducing the concept, followed by factors that help identify underclass….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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2168 words | (6.2 pages)
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The Sociology Analysis of Food and Food Ways

– Sociology is the study of society and people. Food and food ways are often elements associated with particular societies and therefore, studying such a topic can offer valuable insight into the ways of that society and the people who live in it. Although eating is a vital part of survival, with whom, how and where we eat are not. Studying such ways can illustrate and represent the identity of a person or group. The nature of people and their beliefs can be indicated when analysing their food habits….   [tags: Sociology, Commensality]


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1827 words | (5.2 pages)
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Simmel and Benjamin’s recipe for Sociology

– Apparently modernity isn’t all that bad – not all doom and gloom as some would have you believe. Simmel and Benjamin think so anyway. Their approach to sociology is a little different to others. Sure, there are still some Marxist and Weberian notions in their recipe, but they throw in some ideas from intoxicated artists, aesthetics, and find significance in the chaos of modern life. This essay will look at these notions, first by examining the formulation of Simmel and Benjamin’s theories and secondly examining how these differ from other approaches….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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2188 words | (6.3 pages)
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Why Should We Study Sociology?

– We should study Sociology because it can affect all aspects of our lives, each and every day and learn valuable lessons from the studies and improve our living. We can use Sociology change our lives today, so that tomorrow will be better for ourselves, children, and so on. Not only is Sociology good for our lives as a person, but it is useful to our neighbors, co-workers, government, state, country and in fact, the entire world benefits from the study of human behavior. Once a person has studied Sociology, they can consider and appreciate other human’s perspectives instead of believing that your own perspective is the only answer….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1825 words | (5.2 pages)
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Sociology as a Science

– Sociology emerged in the eighteenth century after a period of intense cultural, social and economic changes. As people began to try to understand these changes, there came a period called the Enlightenment. This is also considered by Hamilton (1992) to be a “time characterised by the development of distinctively modern forms of thought about society and the realm of the social.” The Enlightenment encouraged a new way of thinking marked by application of reason, experience and experiment to the natural and social world….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1143 words | (3.3 pages)
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College Entrance Paper to the Department of Sociology

– In early part of my undergraduate classes of sociology, for the first time, I understood the distinction between routine work and passion-driven involvement. While attending the classes, I started to learn gradually to look at my known surroundings in a totally different light through the sociological lenses. In my childhood, my grandfather once told me something laconic: everyone sees, but a very few observes. In the embodiment process of my graduation, I experienced in sociology classes, I could finally begin to realize what actually he meant by those words….   [tags: observe, university, sociology]


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701 words | (2 pages)
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Sociology of The Simpsons

– Sociology of the Simpsons The definition of what consitutes a “family“ has definatly changed over time. Usually, what constitutes making up a family is relative to a specific culture, but as always, there are exceptions to the rule. Ever since the golden age of television had sprung upon American culture, it has tried to mimic the “ideal” American family through it’s programming. Even as early as the 1950’s, television producers made programming that would represent what exactly the ideal American family was….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1416 words | (4 pages)
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Environmental Sociology

– Development processes is connected with environmental degradation and use of natural resources. Rudel et al. (2011) assumes the present of two distinct waves of development power which control environment. The first wave of political economy deals with the power of capitalism as the main agent for environmental degradation, while the second wave concern with the social power (community) to control the use of natural resources. In this first wave scenario, the idea is that capitalism is a significant power for shaping the performance of environment….   [tags: Sociology of Natural Resources]


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2375 words | (6.8 pages)
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The Influence of Jacques Derrida’s Deconstruction on Contemporary Sociology

– Throughout the development of sociology as a discipline, the main backdrop to both sociological field-work and theory has been the distinction between Self and Other – or subject and object – expressed more broadly through the study of the interplay between individuals and institutions. With the advent of poststructuralist thinking, also known as postmodernism, the preference toward this distinction has come under suspicion by some contemporary sociologists and philosophers. Critics typically charge postmodernism with holding subjectivity to higher ground than objectivity, that postmodernism is exclusively relativist in that it questions the unity of an objective reality….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1120 words | (3.2 pages)
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Perspectives of Sociology

– 1. Compare and Contrast the three perspectives in Sociology. Functionalism- A theoretical perspective, associated with Emile Durkheim, based on an analogy between social systems and organic systems. The character of a society’s various institutions must be understood in terms of the function each performs in enabling the smooth running of society as a whole. Stable and made of intellectual social structures that work in harmony. Against change and believes changes reinforces the death of society….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1858 words | (5.3 pages)
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Sociology and Globalisation

– Many historians and sociologists have identified a transformation in the economic processes of the world and society in recent times. There has been an extensive increase in developments in technology and the economy as a whole in the twentieth century. Globalization has been recognized as a new age in which the world has developed into what Giddens identifies to be a “single social system” (Anthony Giddens: 1993 ‘Sociology’ pg 528), due to the rise of interdependence of various countries on one another, therefore affecting practically everyone within society….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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2154 words | (6.2 pages)
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Medicalization of Sociology

– Medicalization of Sociology Sociologist utilizes several perspectives to explain individual motivations of deviance with an emphasis on biological, psychiatric, psychoanalytic, and psychological terms. The emergence of these ideals temporarily displaced social disorganization theory, which stresses a rapidly changing environment as the cause of deviant behavior. Social pathology seeks to explain deviance by evaluating conditions or circumstances, uniquely, affecting the individual. Sociological theories recognize the existense of social conditions that produce deviant behavior and how society identifies it….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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442 words | (1.3 pages)
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Sociology and Religion

– This paper is from a catholic feminist’s perceptive that the church, as an institution, is structured as a pyramid modeled on the patriarchal family with the custom of father-right. The patriarchal decision-maker has the power to shape, form and control the “poor of the world” (McCormick, pg. 240) mirroring the aspect of the conflict theory. The poor of the world are the people who work for the institution of the Church controlled by the patriarchal power elite. These established masses of people feel no control, which cause anxiety and they continue to perform their means of production as a formed unit….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1043 words | (3 pages)
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Sociology: The Study of Humanity

– However new you are to sociology it is probable that you have an idea, however vague and general, regarding what sociology is supposed to be about. It may be that you have an idea that sociology is ‘about’ people. And you would be right to think so. We might start then by noting that sociology is one of the human sciences and as such it is a subject to be distinguished from the so-called ‘physical sciences’. Sociology is the study of humanity. However this description of sociology is only partially correct….   [tags: Definition of Sociology]


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1468 words | (4.2 pages)
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Sociology and the Education System in America

– The definition of Sociology is that it is the study of human societies through the synthesis of theoretical analysis and controlled research, focusing on the social patterns and forces that influence humans. The study of sociology is the issues, concepts, investigations, and more importantly, the systematic study of relationships among people. While the study of sociology focuses on groups, or society as a whole, it should not exclude an emphasis on individuals because individuals forms groups and groups produce individuals….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1140 words | (3.3 pages)
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The Impact of Sociology of the Social Divisions

– The Impact of Sociology of the Social Divisions Examine critically some of the ways in which the sociology of the social divisions have impacted on your own personal and family history, and assess the implications for your professional practice as a social worker….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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553 words | (1.6 pages)
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Sociology’s Role in Understanding Important Social Phenomena

– According to Holmes, Hughes, and Julian (2012) “at its most ambitious, sociology attempts to understand human societies from a wholistic point of view – what they are composed of, how they are reproduced over time and how they might differ from other societies”. Viewing society in this context, allows sociologists to understand the foundation of a society; and the motivations / values that underpin its function. Social phenomena, such as ‘sex, gender, and sexuality’ and their respective dominating themes [and inequalities] shape society as a whole….   [tags: social phenomena, gender, sociology]


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858 words | (2.5 pages)
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Weber’s Approach to Religion and Sociology

– Weber’s Approach to Religion and Sociology Weber’s general approach to sociology is known as <‘verstehen’ sociology; that human action is directed by meaning and that action can only be understood by appreciating the world-view of the social actor concerned. Since religion is an important component of the social actors’ world-view, religious beliefs can direct social action, and hence bring about social change….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1690 words | (4.8 pages)
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The Contribution of Feminists to the Sociology of the Family

– Feminists have played a major part in the ideology of the family, as they provide an alternative view to the traditional sociology of the family. There are many different types of feminists; the main ones are Radical feminists, Marxist feminist and liberal feminists. Although they are categorised separately, they fundamentally believe in the same idea, which is the dominant functionalist assumptions are inaccurate and should therefore be challenged. Functionalists believe that in the family, the role of the woman is functional when she plays a necessary ‘expressive’ role, providing care and affection for members in a more subordinate role than that of the breadwinner husband….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1183 words | (3.4 pages)
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The Founding Fathers of Sociology

– The Founding Fathers of Sociology The founding fathers of sociology all happen to be dead white European men because each one of them sought to explain the changes that took place around them at different times and stages during the time that they were alive, even though some of them died before their views were realized….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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954 words | (2.7 pages)
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Invitation to Sociology: A Classic Overview

– 1. What kind of a person should a sociologist be. A sociologist should be able to observe and understand the realities of human behavior and the social settings in which it happens without being influenced emotionally or personally. What does Berger mean when he refers to sociologists as “Professional Peeping Toms?” When Berger refers to sociologists as “Professional Peeping Toms”, he means to “unmask the pretensions and the propaganda by which men cloak their actions with each other.” An example would be: observing how a family really interacts with each other, responds to their environment, etc., behind closed doors without them knowing so that they cannot fake the way they reall…   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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627 words | (1.8 pages)
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Tacot Parsons’s Contribution to the Sociology of Health

– In this essay I would analyse the concept of health and illness, I would critically examines the contribution of Parsons Theory to health and illness and the criticisms of Parsons model of sick role. In addition, the paper will discuss inequality in health and the findings of black report. I would also discuss sickle cell disease and coronary heart disease. Talcott Parsons has revolutionised the way to deal with the disease and he structured his ideas in to practice and interlink with core issues that the utilitarian society must have….   [tags: sociology, heath, Tacot Parsons,]


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Invitation to Sociology by Peter Berger

– In Peter Berger’s “Invitation to Sociology”, the sociological perspective was introduced. Berger asserts that it is important to examine new or emotionally or morally challenging situations from a sociological perspective in order to gain a clearer understanding of their true meanings. This perspective requires a person to observe a situation through objective eyes. It is important to “look beyond” the stereotypical establishments of a society and focus on their true, hidden meanings. Consideration of all the hidden meanings of social customs, norms, deviations and taboos, allow one to establish an objective image about the truth behind it….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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922 words | (2.6 pages)
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Sociology: Are People Just Puppets?

– Are people puppets of society. Do we control the social system or does it control us. Society is said to mould individuals, but to what extent. Questions no one can properly answer, although different sociologists have different perspectives. We could argue `Yes, we are puppets of society’ or `No, we have free will and can make our own decisions’ Although the most preferred theory is that `We are influenced by society but our fate is not determined by it.’ All three argue whether we are puppets of society or not….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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929 words | (2.7 pages)
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Sociology: The Study of Culture

– Many times I have attempted to comprehend the actions of other people. I always wanted to know why people of different genders, descents, and colors had certain cultural, societal, and religious beliefs. It became apparent to me that all persons are a direct reflection of their environment. In other words, all persons unconsciously, and sometimes consciously, reflect and imitate their environment and the things that they see. Every culture has their own individual stereotypes and belief systems….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1310 words | (3.7 pages)
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Sociology of the Workplace

– Working in today’s society has changed in the last few decades. The economy and technology are the main reasons for this change. The type of job and environment where one works has also changed. The fact that many people work from home via the internet has drastically changed the workforce and the environment surrounding it. With this change have come new demands, expectations, and opportunities for employers. Everyone deals with these demands differently, affecting the employee’s quality of life and job satisfaction….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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917 words | (2.6 pages)
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Sociology Being Value Free

– Sociology Being Value Free There have been many assumptions that sociology is a science because of the assumption that science is objective or value free. In sociological research a problem arises when unconscious researchers bias enter the hypothesis and research topic. Robert Bierstedt stated that the results of an investigation or inquiry are independent for external variable such as race, gender, occupation etc. Bierstedt is quoted saying that ‘if his research is truly objective, it is independent of any subjective elements that he may have’….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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Karl Marx’s Influence on Sociology and Political Thought

– There can be no doubt over the wide-ranging influence of Karl Marx’s theories on sociology and political thought. His concept of communism overcoming the socioeconomic pitfalls of capitalism has not been a theory that has seen the light of day in the way that he may have hypothesised. There have been many throughout history that have misrepresented Marx’s writing, which begs the question, if pure communism in the original Marxist sense is at all possible given that humanity appears to have an innate ‘need’ for hierarchy and a thirst for power….   [tags: Karl Marx, politics, communism, sociology]


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2596 words | (7.4 pages)
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Durkheim’s Work in Sociology

– Durkheim’s Work in Sociology “Some studies maybe more recent, but Durkheim’s work remains the most significant Sociological analysis of Suicide in modern societies” Assess the extent to which Sociological arguments and evidence support this claim. In regards to Suicide it would seem perhaps more realistic to consider the subject as an individual and personal act, a job which might seem more suitable for Psychologists to explain, it may not seem an obvious subject for a Sociologist to study….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1485 words | (4.2 pages)
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Sociology Research and Comprehension

– Sociology Research and Comprehension The phrase ‘the welfare state is the nanny state’ would be inaccurate in M’Calman’s view, as she regards welfare as an important aid to underprivileged people who are finding it difficult to survive in current social and economic conditions. M’Calman states that ‘the welfare state has been derided as the nanny state.’1 She is saying that ‘nanny state’ is intended as a derogatory term used to ridicule the welfare state, whose job is to assist people who genuinely require financial assistance in order to better the quality of life for themselves and their children….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1972 words | (5.6 pages)
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Sociology: Identifying Social Problems

– Identifying Social Problems The definition of a social problem varies greatly depending on whether an objectivist approach or a constructionist approach is taken. This is because sociologists that adopt these unique perspectives will differ in how they view the nature of a social problem. The objectivist definition of a social problem is perhaps more common sense because it “suggests that the essence of social problems lies in objective social conditions and that some conditions are problems.” [1] This definition focuses around the evaluation of conditions in society to decide whether they are harmful to either individuals or society, and then defining them as social problems….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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1687 words | (4.8 pages)
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Sociology question on Marx

– Sociology question on Marx 1. Briefly outline the relationship between, Hegel, Feuerbach and Marx Hegel who was an idealistic philosopher he developed the theory of dialectical. Hegel applied the dialectic theory to the history of human society; he used idealism instead of materialism. Hegel moveable variables in his dialectic were human ideas and thoughts. He came to a conclusion that society is essentially an expression of people’s thoughts. Hegel also claimed that when a conflict occurs between an idea or thoughts, new ideas or concepts are created and adopted by society so that improvements can occur and society can progress forward for the good of everyo…   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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899 words | (2.6 pages)
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Sociology Principles of College

– Sociology in Familiar Places: Expectations Norms are found in all societies. Colleges are subcultures. There is a specific way of doing things and all campuses are different. Everyone has expectations on how college life will be and the standards that come with it. “More than a wish or a hope, an expectation is something a student believes will happen, anticipates doing or experiencing. Expectations are grounded in a student’s self-understanding and in knowledge about the college or university at which he or she plans to spend the next four years or more.” This superior justification of what a college student foresees by Robert Gonyea, really depicts what a scholar looks forward to in his o…   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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896 words | (2.6 pages)
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The Values on Sociological Research of Value Free Sociology, Value Laden and Committed Sociology

– The Values on Sociological Research of Value Free Sociology, Value Laden and Committed Sociology Sociologists vary in their opinions on the effect of values on research. Value free sociology is an opinion in sociology, started by Emile Durkheim, that states that sociology should be seeking to use methodology similar to that used in the physical sciences. One of the key elements in their methodology to make it similar to the physical sciences is objectivity. These positivists state that their values have no effect on their research and that this should apply throughout sociology….   [tags: Sociology Essays]


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675 words | (1.9 pages)
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John J. Coakley on the Sociology of Sport

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Sociology

What this handout is about

This handout introduces you to the wonderful world of writing sociology. Before you can write a clear and coherent sociology paper, you need a firm understanding of the assumptions and expectations of the discipline. You need to know your audience, the way they view the world and how they order and evaluate information. So, without further ado, let’s figure out just what sociology is, and how one goes about writing it.

What is sociology, and what do sociologists write about?

Unlike many of the other subjects here at UNC, such as history or English, sociology is a new subject for many students. Therefore, it may be helpful to give a quick introduction to what sociologists do. Sociologists are interested in all sorts of topics. For example, some sociologists focus on the family, addressing issues such as marriage, divorce, child-rearing, and domestic abuse, the ways these things are defined in different cultures and times, and their effect on both individuals and institutions. Others examine larger social organizations such as businesses and governments, looking at their structure and hierarchies. Still others focus on social movements and political protest, such as the American civil rights movement. Finally, sociologists may look at divisions and inequality within society, examining phenomena such as race, gender, and class, and their effect on people’s choices and opportunities. As you can see, sociologists study just about everything. Thus, it is not the subject matter that makes a paper sociological, but rather the perspective used in writing it.

So, just what is a sociological perspective? At its most basic, sociology is an attempt to understand and explain the way that individuals and groups interact within a society. How exactly does one approach this goal? C. Wright Mills, in his book The Sociological Imagination (1959), writes that “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” Why? Well, as Karl Marx observes at the beginning of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), humans “make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.” Thus, a good sociological argument needs to balance both individual agency and structural constraints. That is certainly a tall order, but it is the basis of all effective sociological writing. Keep it in mind as you think about your own writing.

Key assumptions and characteristics of sociological writing

What are the most important things to keep in mind as you write in sociology? Pay special attention to the following issues.

Argument

The first thing to remember in writing a sociological argument is to be as clear as possible in stating your thesis. Of course, that is true in all papers, but there are a couple of pitfalls common to sociology that you should be aware of and avoid at all cost. As previously defined, sociology is the study of the interaction between individuals and larger social forces. Different traditions within sociology tend to favor one side of the equation over the other, with some focusing on the agency of individual actors and others on structural factors. The danger is that you may go too far in either of these directions and thus lose the complexity of sociological thinking. Although this mistake can manifest itself in any number of ways, three types of flawed arguments are particularly common: 

  • The “individual argument” generally takes this form: “The individual is free to make choices, and any outcomes can be explained exclusively through the study of his or her ideas and decisions.” While it is of course true that we all make our own choices, we must also keep in mind that, to paraphrase Marx, we make these choices under circumstances given to us by the structures of society. Therefore, it is important to investigate what conditions made these choices possible in the first place, as well as what allows some individuals to successfully act on their choices while others cannot.
  • The “human nature argument” seeks to explain social behavior through a quasi-biological argument about humans, and often takes a form such as: “Humans are by nature X, therefore it is not surprising that Y.” While sociologists disagree over whether a universal human nature even exists, they all agree that it is not an acceptable basis of explanation. Instead, sociology demands that you question why we call some behavior natural, and to look into the social factors which have constructed this “natural” state.
  • The “society argument” often arises in response to critiques of the above styles of argumentation, and tends to appear in a form such as: “Society made me do it.” Students often think that this is a good sociological argument, since it uses society as the basis for explanation. However, the problem is that the use of the broad concept “society” masks the real workings of the situation, making it next to impossible to build a strong case. This is an example of reification, which is when we turn processes into things. Society is really a process, made up of ongoing interactions at multiple levels of size and complexity, and to turn it into a monolithic thing is to lose all that complexity. People make decisions and choices. Some groups and individuals benefit, while others do not. Identifying these intermediate levels is the basis of sociological analysis.

Although each of these three arguments seems quite different, they all share one common feature: they assume exactly what they need to be explaining. They are excellent starting points, but lousy conclusions.

Evidence

Once you have developed a working argument, you will next need to find evidence to support your claim. What counts as evidence in a sociology paper? First and foremost, sociology is an empirical discipline. Empiricism in sociology means basing your conclusions on evidence that is documented and collected with as much rigor as possible. This evidence usually draws upon observed patterns and information from collected cases and experiences, not just from isolated, anecdotal reports. Just because your second cousin was able to climb the ladder from poverty to the executive boardroom does not prove that the American class system is open. You will need more systematic evidence to make your claim convincing. Above all else, remember that your opinion alone is not sufficient support for a sociological argument. Even if you are making a theoretical argument, you must be able to point to documented instances of social phenomena that fit your argument. Logic is necessary for making the argument, but is not sufficient support by itself.

Sociological evidence falls into two main groups: 

  • Quantitative data are based on surveys, censuses, and statistics. These provide large numbers of data points, which is particularly useful for studying large-scale social processes, such as income inequality, population changes, changes in social attitudes, etc.
  • Qualitative data, on the other hand, comes from participant observation, in-depth interviews, data and texts, as well as from the researcher’s own impressions and reactions. Qualitative research gives insight into the way people actively construct and find meaning in their world.

Quantitative data produces a measurement of subjects’ characteristics and behavior, while qualitative research generates information on their meanings and practices. Thus, the methods you choose will reflect the type of evidence most appropriate to the questions you ask. If you wanted to look at the importance of race in an organization, a quantitative study might use information on the percentage of different races in the organization, what positions they hold, as well as survey results on people’s attitudes on race. This would measure the distribution of race and racial beliefs in the organization. A qualitative study would go about this differently, perhaps hanging around the office studying people’s interactions, or doing in-depth interviews with some of the subjects. The qualitative researcher would see how people act out their beliefs, and how these beliefs interact with the beliefs of others as well as the constraints of the organization.

Some sociologists favor qualitative over quantitative data, or vice versa, and it is perfectly reasonable to rely on only one method in your own work. However, since each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, combining methods can be a particularly effective way to bolster your argument. But these distinctions are not just important if you have to collect your own data for your paper. You also need to be aware of them even when you are relying on secondary sources for your research. In order to critically evaluate the research and data you are reading, you should have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the different methods.

Units of analysis

Given that social life is so complex, you need to have a point of entry into studying this world. In sociological jargon, you need a unit of analysis. The unit of analysis is exactly that: it is the unit that you have chosen to analyze in your study. Again, this is only a question of emphasis and focus, and not of precedence and importance. You will find a variety of units of analysis in sociological writing, ranging from the individual up to groups or organizations. You should choose yours based on the interests and theoretical assumptions driving your research. The unit of analysis will determine much of what will qualify as relevant evidence in your work. Thus you must not only clearly identify that unit, but also consistently use it throughout your paper.

Let’s look at an example to see just how changing the units of analysis will change the face of research. What if you wanted to study globalization? That’s a big topic, so you will need to focus your attention. Where would you start?

You might focus on individual human actors, studying the way that people are affected by the globalizing world. This approach could possibly include a study of Asian sweatshop workers’ experiences, or perhaps how consumers’ decisions shape the overall system.

Or you might choose to focus on social structures or organizations. This approach might involve looking at the decisions being made at the national or international level, such as the free-trade agreements that change the relationships between governments and corporations. Or you might look into the organizational structures of corporations and measure how they are changing under globalization. Another structural approach would be to focus on the social networks linking subjects together. That could lead you to look at how migrants rely on social contacts to make their way to other countries, as well as to help them find work upon their arrival.

Finally, you might want to focus on cultural objects or social artifacts as your unit of analysis. One fine example would be to look at the production of those tennis shoes the kids seem to like so much. You could look at either the material production of the shoe (tracing it from its sweatshop origins to its arrival on the showroom floor of malls across America) or its cultural production (attempting to understand how advertising and celebrities have turned such shoes into necessities and cultural icons).

Whichever unit of analysis you choose, be careful not to commit the dreaded ecological fallacy. An ecological fallacy is when you assume that something that you learned about the group level of analysis also applies to the individuals that make up that group. So, to continue the globalization example, if you were to compare its effects on the poorest 20% and the richest 20% of countries, you would need to be careful not to apply your results to the poorest and richest individuals.

These are just general examples of how sociological study of a single topic can vary. Because you can approach a subject from several different perspectives, it is important to decide early how you plan to focus your analysis and then stick with that perspective throughout your paper. Avoid mixing units of analysis without strong justification. Different units of analysis generally demand different kinds of evidence for building your argument. You can reconcile the varying levels of analysis, but doing so may require a complex, sophisticated theory, no small feat within the confines of a short paper. Check with your instructor if you are concerned about this happening in your paper

Typical writing assignments in sociology

So how does all of this apply to an actual writing assignment? Undergraduate writing assignments in sociology may take a number of forms, but they typically involve reviewing sociological literature on a subject; applying or testing a particular concept, theory, or perspective; or producing a small-scale research report, which usually involves a synthesis of both the literature review and application.

The critical review

The review involves investigating the research that has been done on a particular topic and then summarizing and evaluating what you have found. The important task in this kind of assignment is to organize your material clearly and synthesize it for your reader. A good review does not just summarize the literature, but looks for patterns and connections in the literature and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of what others have written on your topic. You want to help your reader see how the information you have gathered fits together, what information can be most trusted (and why), what implications you can derive from it, and what further research may need to be done to fill in gaps. Doing so requires considerable thought and organization on your part, as well as thinking of yourself as an expert on the topic. You need to assume that, even though you are new to the material, you can judge the merits of the arguments you have read and offer an informed opinion of which evidence is strongest and why.

Application or testing of a theory or concept

The application assignment asks you to apply a concept or theoretical perspective to a specific example. In other words, it tests your practical understanding of theories and ideas by asking you to explain how well they apply to actual social phenomena. In order to successfully apply a theory to a new case, you must include the following steps:

  1. First you need to have a very clear understanding of the theory itself: not only what the theorist argues, but also why he or she argues that point, and how he or she justifies it. That is, you have to understand how the world works according to this theory and how one thing leads to another.
  2. Next you should choose an appropriate case study. This is a crucial step, one that can make or break your paper. If you choose a case that is too similar to the one used in constructing the theory in the first place, then your paper will be uninteresting as an application, since it will not give you the opportunity to show off your theoretical brilliance. On the other hand, do not choose a case that is so far out in left field that the applicability is only superficial and trivial. In some ways theory application is like making an analogy. The last thing you want is a weak analogy, or one that is so obvious that it does not give any added insight. Instead, you will want to choose a happy medium, one that is not obvious but that allows you to give a developed analysis of the case using the theory you chose.
  3. This leads to the last point, which is the analysis. A strong analysis will go beyond the surface and explore the processes at work, both in the theory and in the case you have chosen. Just like making an analogy, you are arguing that these two things (the theory and the example) are similar. Be specific and detailed in telling the reader how they are similar. In the course of looking for similarities, however, you are likely to find points at which the theory does not seem to be a good fit. Do not sweep this discovery under the rug, since the differences can be just as important as the similarities, supplying insight into both the applicability of the theory and the uniqueness of the case you are using.

You may also be asked to test a theory. Whereas the application paper assumes that the theory you are using is true, the testing paper does not makes this assumption, but rather asks you to try out the theory to determine whether it works. Here you need to think about what initial conditions inform the theory and what sort of hypothesis or prediction the theory would make based on those conditions. This is another way of saying that you need to determine which cases the theory could be applied to (see above) and what sort of evidence would be needed to either confirm or disconfirm the theory’s hypothesis. In many ways, this is similar to the application paper, with added emphasis on the veracity of the theory being used.

The research paper

Finally, we reach the mighty research paper. Although the thought of doing a research paper can be intimidating, it is actually little more than the combination of many of the parts of the papers we have already discussed. You will begin with a critical review of the literature and use this review as a basis for forming your research question. The question will often take the form of an application (“These ideas will help us to explain Z.”) or of hypothesis testing (“If these ideas are correct, we should find X when we investigate Y.”). The skills you have already used in writing the other types of papers will help you immensely as you write your research papers.

And so we reach the end of this all-too-brief glimpse into the world of sociological writing. Sociologists can be an idiosyncratic bunch, so paper guidelines and expectations will no doubt vary from class to class, from instructor to instructor. However, these basic guidelines will help you get started.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing the original version of this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find the latest publications on this topic. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

Anson, Chris M. and Robert A. Schwegler. The Longman Handbook for Writers. 2nd ed. New York: Longman, 2000.

Hairston, Maxine and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers. 4th ed. New York: HarperCollins College Publishers, 1996.

Lee, Cuba. A Short Guide to Writing about Social Science. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 2002.

Lunsford, Andrea and Robert Connors. The St. Martin’s Handbook. 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995.

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