Sociology 123 Application Paper
The purpose of this assignment is to show that you can apply a theory we cover in class
to a “real world” example and critique it. Specifically, you will be selecting a cultural
object (film, television show episode, song lyrics, book, etc.) that depicts or discusses
criminal or delinquent behavior. You can use one of the cultural objects listed at the end
of this documents, or come up with your own. You cannot use the television or film
scenes that were shown in class. So, you cannot use the stick up scene from of The Wire
used to illustrate rational choice theory, but you can use a different scene/episode/season.
In addition, I have listed two scenes from The Wire below that cannot be used. If you rely
on either of the two scenes you will automatically receive a 0/50 on this paper. Finally,
you are expected to rely only on the readings from class, unless otherwise approved by
However, the paper must
include the following five sections:
1. Introduction (5 points)
Provide a short description of the paper without going into too much detail.
Explain the purpose of this paper and summarize your argument. Example of a
sentence to include in the introduction: “In this paper, I discuss how two scenes
from the television show The Wire illustrate rational choice theory. In doing so, I
outline and define the central concepts of rational choice theory and provide a
brief critique of the perspective with regards to criminal and delinquent behavior.”
See Soci123 — PAPER EXAMPLE on Sakai.
2. Summary of your cultural object (10 points)
Summarize the content of your cultural object. What takes place in the scene(s),
what is the theme of the song, what are key quotes from the book or lyrics, what
are the social/individual circumstances of the characters involved? You do not
have to go into tremendous detail—simply explain enough so that I can
understand how this object is a good example of the theory you will apply in the
3. Application of theory (15 points)
In this section of the paper, discuss the theory you believe is being illustrated by
your cultural object. In doing so, make sure to explain the theory in detail. In
general, how does this theory explain the origins and/or variations in criminal and
delinquent behavior? What does the theory say about why certain individuals
commit crime or have higher propensities to commit crimes than other
individuals? Alternatively, why is crime concentrated in certain neighborhoods or
societies? Does this theoretical perspective make any assumptions about human
nature, the socialization process, etc.? Make sure to define any key concepts/terms
you use and cite any texts/readings if necessary. Key concepts/terms are generally
bolded and defined in lecture slides.
In section (3), you will also need to tie specific details from your cultural object to
the theoretical explanation of criminal and harmful behavior you discuss. Do any
particular scenes illustrate the central concepts? Feel free to integrate this with the
other required content of section (3) (see paper example).
4. Critique of theory (5 points)
What are the limitations and critiques of the theoretical perspective you discussed
in the previous section? Are the limitations and critiques depicted in any way in
your cultural object? Identify and discuss the limitations and critiques not evident
based on your cultural object.
5. Alternative theory (10 points)
Finally, is there an alternative theory that you believe overcomes the limitations
and critiques of the theory you have discussed in sections (3) and (4)?
Alternatively, is there a second theory that compliments or could be integrated
with the theory you have discussed up to this point to provide a more holistic
explanation of patterns in criminal and delinquent behavior? Describe the second
theory in detail and include definitions of the second theory’s central concepts.
You do not need to discuss how this second theory is illustrated in your cultural
object and you do not need to discuss the second theory’s limitations and critiques
(but it is important to know what they are).
Grammar, clarity, and formatting (5 points)
Your write up should be free of grammatical errors. It should be clear that you
proofread the assignment before submitting. Your write up should have a clear
and logical flow to it and should be written in complete sentences. You must
properly cite the sources you draw on. For example, if you use a direct quote you
must include “(Walsh and Hemmens 2014; page X).” If you have any concerns
about your writing I encourage you to visit The Writing Center on campus.
No Reference page needed only in text citations.