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The fact that sociology is, by nature, a pretty polarizing subject can be an advantage when it comes to choosing a topic for your sociology course essay; that is, since people tend to want to argue many of the concepts involved with the field of sociology, it should, theoretically, be easy to come up with a topic that you can present a point and defend. After all, clearly stating your opinion about a particular point that you feel strongly about is the key to a strong thesis statement.
That said, perhaps you just need a little guidance to get you going in the right direction. Below you will find a range of general topic ideas for your sociology essay. The key is to pick one that you feel passionate about, narrow its focus, and tailor it to your particular needs.
The hypothesis that language either determines or influences our thoughts and behaviors should be discussed with relevant examples. In addressing this topic, you should address whether or not people's psychological faculties are learned or are innate. Does culture and society play a role in how people see the world through the ages? Or are we biologically all the same and react to things as a result of our physiological makeup? Are our thoughts merely our way of speaking internally? Do our thoughts evolve as part of language, or can we develop thought without having learned language first? Analyze the idea that the particular language we speak influences the way we perceive the world around us.
Your essay should include a discussion of the generally accepted socializing agents, such as family, peer groups, the media, education, etc. How do differences in culture affect the way family influences our thoughts and behaviors? Where do we learn our sense of social norms and hierarchies? Besides imparting knowledge, schools influence the way we perceive the world as well as our values. How might school affect the way we see authority figures? Be sure to consider the effect of technology upon socialization; for example, how do online social networking sites change the way we socialize? How have advertising and other marketing influenced people?
The position a person occupies in a society as well as his or her expected behavior in that status contribute heavily upon our social structure. What rights and behaviors have come to be expected of people based upon the status they hold within a society? Consider the obligations and benefits associated with such rolls. Can people fall under multiple statuses and rolls within a society? If so, how might these come into conflict with one another? Discuss some of the ways that people of different statuses interact with one another within a society.
Demographics are an important part of social structure. How have population, age, mortality rate, etc., in crowded areas affected social structure? As urbanization and suburbanization increase, what problems are created, and how does society deal with these issues? Be sure to discuss urban ecology theories as a way to understand how people relate to their city environments.
People in close, regular contact who share similar thoughts, behaviors, and goals can be thought of as a group. Individuals within a group may satisfy each other's emotional needs, they may have a common financial goal, or they may serve some other social function. Compare or contrast various groups in terms of how they cooperate or come into conflict. How might coercion factor into the group dynamic? What is the roll of conformity? A group may be a formal organization with a clear goal, or it may be informal.
Deviant behavior departs from what is considered "normal" by society, though it is hard to define. Who defines what deviant behavior is? Is it a function of societal status? You may try to categorize or give some specific examples of deviant behavior. Deviant behavior could have positive or negative consequences for the society. Think of the criminal justice system; are there inequalities based on who determines what is or is not deviant behavior? Discuss some of the different methods used to discourage what is thought to be deviant behavior (e.g., punishment, incarceration, rehabilitation).
Discuss the differences and/or similarities between various socio-economic social classes, such as upper class, middle class, working class, underclass, etc. People have differing amounts of power and wealth, depending on their social class. What defines a particular social class, and are people born into their class, or do they "earn" it? What are the rewards for upward social mobility? You may want to mention the caste or open-class social systems in discussing mobility, and contrast the two.
You may choose to discuss education, family, sports, religion, political groups, or some other socially relevant institution. What are the various benefits to society of the family (e.g., socializing children, transmitting social values, etc.)? How do schools act as training grounds, and can that be a good or bad characteristic? What social values can sports teach, and how can sports perpetuate certain biases? Be sure to make your point clear in your thesis statement and narrow your topic to one particular institution.
People who make up a minority in terms of physical, cultural, racial or ethnic differences often experience negative attitudes from the dominant group of a society. What are some examples of assimilation (e.g., conformity or acculturation), and what are the costs and benefits to both the minority and majority as a result? Discuss also examples of conflict, such as subjugation or violence. How might a dominant group use prejudice to assume a superior social position over the minority? What aspects of society might you consider "institutionalized discrimination" in a particular society?
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