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Sociology Analysis on The Rational Society

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Sociology Analysis on The Rational Society

Below you will find some questions to help guide you in your second section essay. Remember, the essay functions as both a personal reflection and an analysis on the material covered. The idea is to demonstrate that you have understood important aspects of the material. There is not any one particular way to approach the assignment beyond making sure that it is coherent (meaning in essay format), relates to the readings for the week, and should be, at a minimum, four pages in length. Note: It is not necessary to use my suggestions.

Potential Ideas for Section Essay #3

1. While Weber details the characteristics of bureaucratic forms, he is wary of the potential impact that bureaucratic rationalism will have on the development of a society. Marcuse, on the other hand is not wary, but alarmed at what he sees as an all-encompassing technological rationalism. Are these concerns warranted? Why or why not? How have your experiences with bureaucratic institutions gone? Do you see parallels between those experiences and other aspects of your life that you normally do not consider to be “bureaucratic”?

2. Marcuse’s text, One Dimensional Man, played a significant role in the student movement’s of the late 1960’s. Why do you think this is the case, especially considering Marcuse’s own lack of belief in the impact of protesting? In your response, be sure to consider the historical context of both Marcuse’s writing and of the student movements of the late 1960s.

3. Based upon the readings of this course, how have you come to understand the notion of “rationality”? Do you think rationality is a problematic concept, and if so why? Furthermore, do you think rationalization is a generally positive or negative process in society, and why?

4. Both Rubenstein’s Cunning of History and Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man posit rationality-based explanations for major societal shifts (the occurrence of the Holocaust and changes in the social order and democracy, respectively). Although both of the authors rely upon a similar framework in their analysis, they each reach what appears to be fairly distinct conclusions regarding the trajectories of “rational society”. Is it possible to reconcile the two perspectives, or does one of the two (or neither) more adequately demonstrate the process of encroaching rationalism?

If none of the ideas above strike your fancy and you are having difficulty determining what to write about, consider the following:

1. Was there something important in the reading/theoretical position that you strongly disagree with? If so, that disagreement may be a suitable topic for the essay.

2. Do you think the theory(s) proposed by Marx or Bourdieu have continued or contemporary relevance? If so, how might that be demonstrated? If not, what evidence do you have to support your argument? Either position might be a suitable topic for the essay.

3. Did you find one reading more compelling than the others? Why is that? Perhaps you should direct your focus of the essay to that specific reading.

4. Have you identified any inconsistencies in the readings which may influence the value of the ideas within? If so, what are they and what implications do these inconsistencies have? This may also serve as the basis for the essay.

5. Do you have an alternative explanation for any of the theories posed? If so, what is it? How would you defend your own theory?

6. Do you think that adopting the theoretical perspective(s) from this section would help to give us a better understanding of a different field? For instance, does Marx’s theory of alienation and production give us a new way to look at mental health? Does Bourdieu’s theories regarding the taste and social class help us to understand the problems of gender in the workplace (e.g. the glass ceiling; unequal pay)?

Think about the questions above. They may spark some potential ideas of what you may wish to write about. If you are unsure, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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