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  • 1. AS Sociology: Unit 1: Sociological Theories Essay Writing Frame Note, the size of the boxes on this frame, represent a rough estimate of paragraph length. Step 1: Paragraph 1: Introduction Introduce the theory, set the scene and connect with the question. What is the question asking you to do? What are the key words? What skills does it require? ‘In exploring the family, Feminists refer to…’ ‘From the Marxist perspective, the family…’ Step 2: Paragraph 2: Define the key ideas/theory. Explain theory/perspective and their view of society. Explain and define any key terms. What are the key ideas of the theory? What type of theory is it? How do they explain the key institutions in society? ‘Marxism is a conflict perspective… this means…’ ‘Marxists claim that institutions serve the needs of Capitalism. This is…’ ‘They refer to the working class as the Proletariat…. the minority of society which…’ Step 3: Paragraph 3: Key point 1 & Evidence Now apply the theory to the family and explain the first key point. E.g. ‘Marxist see the Family as a unit of production….’ Try to explain in your own words to show understanding. Is there any examples you can use to illustrate your point? Examples: ‘One example of this is…’ ‘One illustration of this is…’ ‘This is where…’ ‘Another way this can take place is….’ Is there any evidence which supports or challenges the point? Explain the evidence and what it suggests. Finally link the evidence back to your point and explain why it supports/challenges it. ‘This supports… because…’ Link back to the Q using key terms. Use PEEL: Point, Evidence/Example, Explain, Link. Step 4: Paragraph 4: Key point 2 & Evidence Repeat step 3 (PEEL) for your second key point. Point E.g. Marxists also argue that the family promote the capitalist ideology and cushion the effects of exploitation…’
  • 2. AS Sociology: Unit 1: Sociological Theories Essay Writing Frame Step 4, key point 2 continued… Evidence/Example… Explain… Link… Step 5: Paragraph 5: Key point 3 & Evidence (Optional) Repeat step’s 3 & 4 (PEEL) for your third key point. Point E.g. ‘As well as the family acting as a unit of production, the Marxist perspective also argue that the family are a unit of consumption…’ Evidence… Explain…. Link…. Step 6: Paragraph 6: Evaluation: Strengths & Weaknesses Evaluate the overall perspective and theory of the family. Present a range of evaluative points, both positive and negative. Explain why it’s a strength or weakness to add depth. E.g. ‘One weakness of the Marxist approach to the family is that it focuses on the nuclear family. This is a limitation because it doesn’t explain how additional types of families serve the needs of capitalism. For example, the increase in divorce rate has produced more lone parent families, headed by single mums. These types of families do not have a strong male breadwinner who goes out to work for the ruling class. ‘ ‘However a major strength of the Marxist approach is…’ Don’t forget to compare and contrast with other perspectives such as Functionalism & Feminism.! How would feminists criticise functionalism & vice versa! Step 7: Paragraph 7: Conclusion Round up your ideas and return to the core idea. Refer back to the question, producing a concise conclusion. Use the words and terms from the question.
  • 3. AS Sociology: Unit 1: Sociological Theories Essay Writing Frame Key hints, tips, tricks and things to remember! 1) Define and explain all key terms. If you’ve used a key term, you must explain what it means. The examiner will not assume you just understand it. (Pretend you are writing your essay to someone who knows nothing about sociology!) 2) Refer back to the question and use the words from the question at every available opportunity, but especially in your conclusion! Show the examiner you know what the question is asking and what it requires you to do! 3) Use PEEL as much as you can to elaborate on your points and explain in depth. Use your own words and try not to just reproduce your class notes or textbook! Again it’s all about showing you understand. 4) Use examples to help you to explain and illustrate your points. Keep up to date with the news and use contemporary examples if you can. But always explain them in relation to the question! 5) Provide evidence in the form of studies, statistics or arguments from other sociologists. Make links to other parts of the course. E.g. can you present a statistic on changing family patterns and explain it as evidence against a perspective? 6) Make comparisons across theories and perspectives. How would Marxism criticise Functionalist views of the family and vice versa!? 7) Present a range of overall evaluation points, both positive and negative (strengths and weaknesses) and explain why they are a good point or bad point… 8) Use connectives wherever you can to make your essay flow. For example: ‘However…’ ‘Therefore..’ ‘In agreement with…’ ‘In contrast to…’ ‘This supports…’ ‘This suggests…’