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 and evaluate a case study, and think about a theory or theories critically.

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 one or more theories or concepts from Topics 3-8 to critically analyse and explore the case.
The essay word limit is a range (2000-2500) and so the often applied 10% rule does NOT apply. Breaching 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 and second assessments inform your writing, research, and understanding of ideas, concepts and theories.

Rationale
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 and evaluate 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 knowing; 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.

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