Guidelines for the Sociological Autobiography Assignment
Below are the guidelines for the application paper (Sociological Autobiography) that you are required to complete for this course
Length: 1200-1800 words
Plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated. This means that you must submit your own work in your own words. Quotes taken from other authors must be quoted and cited correctly. The penalties for plagiarism are outlined in the Student in the HCC Student Handbook
(Links to an external site.)
, and will be enforced to the fullest extent.
HOW TO WRITE YOUR PAPER
“Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both…. No social study that does not come back to the problems of biography, of history and of their intersections within a society has completed its intellectual journey…. The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two in society…. For that imagination is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another— from the political to the psychological; from examination of a single family to comparative assessments of the national budgets of the world; from the theological school to the military establishment; from considerations of an oil industry to studies of contemporary poetry. It is the capacity to range from the most impersonal and remote transformations to the most intimate features of the human self— and to see the relations between the two.” — C. Wright Mills.
This assignment asks you to write an autobiographical essay describing the intersection between your biography and the historical times in which you live using your “sociological imagination” as discussed in C. Wright Mills’ essay “The Promise” (click link here
). What sociological factors have shaped your life so far? Your goal is to demonstrate your sociological understanding through an application of the sociological imagination to an analysis of your life. The key to showing a sociological understanding is to connect your personal experiences, behaviors, and attitudes to the larger social structure. For example, think about your cultural background, socialization, race, ethnicity, class, gender or sexual orientation. How have any of these factors, or the intersection of any of them, given you advantages or disadvantages throughout life?
Write your autobiography detailing the following:
Identify and consider two or more social forces explored over the course of the semester that have had a significant impact on your life, for example:
Birth, location (LOCATION PAKISTAN, Islamabad)
Family structure (TRADITIONAL)
Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Background (ASIAN)
Social class/education/work history (SOCIAL CLASS= upper class)
Identify and highlight two historical events that have had a significant impact on your life;
explain why you are identifying these social and historical forces, and not some others, as the most significant to shaping your life;
analyze and evaluation how the social and historical forces you have identified have shaped your sociological autobiography, and apply them to an analysis of your life.
Make sure to use sociological concepts and theories throughout your paper, and highlight sociological terms that connect to your life story.
So….Where do I start?
Ask yourself how you got to be the person you are today-now look at it from a sociological view. Wright Mills defined sociological imagination as “the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society”. How can you now analyze your personal life in relationship to society? In other words, how did society shape you into who you are today?
The trick to writing a sociological autobiography is to consider your individual life experiences from a wider perspective. For this paper you are relating how your life and choices are influenced by the times in which you live, and the society you were raised in. Analyze how your culture, race, religion, gender, class, and the like have impacted events in your life and how you might be a part of a larger sociological movement or society.
Usually the more concepts/terminology included (which should be highlighted or underlined) used in your paper the better the grade. But don’t just throw terms in there. You should integrate sociology terms, concepts and theory as it relates to the areas you focus on in your life.
Below are excerpts from various sociological autobiographies. They should give you an idea of how to incorporate sociological concepts into an analysis of your life.
Two major points of study that make up sociology are the distinction of microsociology and macrosociology. These two areas can encompass the difference between an individual’s history and biography, and how these two intersect. I want to take a deeper look into the factors that have influenced my life and made me into the person that I am today. Utilizing a sociological imagination allows me to explore the influence caused by my individual interactions, as well as the effects of social structures on my life. Utilizing my sociological imagination, I will explore the intertwined influences of self and society on my decisions and actions through my life.
…As many of you probably already guessed, the girl I’m speaking about is me. And looking back on my life I can see many sociological concepts at work although at the time I thought it was something else. To begin with, look at the first thoughts that came to my mother’s mind when I was born. What occupations did she immediately think of while holding me, a baby girl? She thought of careers that society has taught us to classify as feminine, a woman’s place. If I had been a boy would she be wondering if I would be a ballerina, nurse, or teacher? Most likely not, instead she’d be thinking of occupations such as a lawyer, doctor, basketball player, or economist. Why is this? Because American society has created a standard of what is acceptable for men and women. They’ve come up with specific roles and statuses that are considered masculine or feminine, for one to deviate from those socially accepted norms results in people raising their eyebrows and most likely more obstacles for one to face.
Following along with the trend for little girls, I was put in ballet classes at the age of four. But why was ballet the sport for me to play? Why didn’t my parents start me off in soccer or baseball? The answer is simple when the concept of gender role socialization is considered. I was being raised and taught to be a girl, and in the society that I was growing up in little girls did ballet, not baseball. And sure enough, my class was made up entirely of girls, as little boys aren’t “supposed” to do ballet. As I got older and continued to dance it became clearer that dance was a girls’ sport, not only were there no boys in my class, but if a boy even thought about taking dance he was picked on, and called a sissy girl. The reason for this clearly is gender socialization. Boys and girls are growing up being taught what is masculine and what is feminine, what they can be/play/wear/etc., and what they can’t. For example, all of my clothes had pink in them, but my boy cousin’s were all blue. My bathing suit was pink with ruffles where my cousin’s was blue and green. I played with baby dolls and Barbies while my cousin played with guns and cars. From the earliest of ages society has shaped our minds of what defines masculinity and femininity.
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