What is the basic social issue/event/phenomenon?

Choose a pre-approved documentary film from those listed/linked. Using the information from
your documentary and any relevant class materials (the theoretical perspectives table and course text, for
example), perform a sociological analysis of the issue/phenomenon. Use the theoretical perspectives
(Functionalism, Conflict Theory, and/or Interactionism) as a basis for your analysis. You have leeway to be
creative in your analysis of the issue, but make sure you are addressing questions such as the following:
What is the basic social issue/event/phenomenon? What makes it a social issue/phenomenon?
What statuses/roles, groups, organizations, and institutions are involved? How can the structural or
macro elements of the issue be examined with the sociological imagination?
How would a “macro” sociologist examine this issue for things such as functions/dysfunctions,
equality/inequality, power imbalances, integration/disintegration, cohesion, and agreement or
disagreement on values and norms?
What is the “micro” or symbolic interactionist view of this phenomenon? Can you give examples of
social forces, symbolic meanings, and reality constructions? How do these things shape the actions of
the people involved?
Can the action in the issue be explained in terms of dramaturgy or exchange theory?
Why might this issue be of interest to sociologists? How could a sociologist do further research on the
issue or phenomenon?
A potential outline of your essay, which covers the above bullet points, might look similar to this:
I. Introduction: Describe the issue/phenomenon from your film in sociological terms.
II. How would a Functionalist analyze and explain this issue? (Apply concepts from the
perspective to examples you found in the film)
III. How would a Conflict Theorist analyze and explain this issue? (Apply concepts as above)
IV. How would an Interactionist analyze and explain this issue? (Apply concepts as above)
V. How could a sociologist do further research on the issue in your film? Concluding Remarks
Assignment Guidelines:
Submissions should be a minimum of 3 pages, typed, double-spaced, with 1″ margins. The use of outside,
academic sources (websites, books, scholarly journals) is discouraged, as I want to read your analysis,
not someone else’s. If you name your film, it’s year, and the producer or director in your introduction, you
do not need a separate Works Cited page. Grading will be based on effort, originality, depth of analysis, and
proper application of terms, concepts, and theories to examples from your film. This essay is worth an exam
grade, so be certain that it meets college-level standards and is an example of your best effort to
demonstrate what you’ve learned in Introductory Sociology.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/american-insurrection/
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/trafficked-in-america/
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/shots-fired/
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/growing-up-poor-in-america/

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