Choose a photograph of an older person (someone unknown to you). Develop an analytical narrative about them that reflects key sociological concepts and knowledge about aging and older persons from the course. An analytical narrative is a fictional account of life experiences and demographic information carefully created to demonstrate key sociological concepts and theory. Drawing on the narrative that you have created and current sociological academic research, write a research paper (5-6 pages double-spaced, not including title page and reference page). The paper will explore the ways in which and reasons why (or why not) your older person’s life experiences fit (or not) with typical patterns, life course trends, and theoretical perspectives for their demographic profile and social positions in society. Please note that this is not an opinion paper. The analysis of life experiences is based on current sociological academic research drawn from the textbook and other academic peer reviewed sources.
Note: The analytical narrative is not based on real information from an older person. You create the narrative to reflect concepts, theory, trends and patterns presented in the course material.
Your paper must include the following sections:
Introduction (approximately 0.5 pages)
The introduction should include a thesis statement, summary of life experiences, and social structures highlighted in the narrative, and the course material (i.e., sociological concepts and theoretical paradigm) that will be used to analyze the narrative.
A thesis statement is one or two sentences in the introductory paragraph that presents an argument or states a position on the topic for the reader. The analysis portion of the paper then presents evidence to support the thesis statement. For more information on how to construct a thesis statement go to http://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
Body (approximately 3-4 pages)
Narrative of an Older Person (approximately 1 page)
Include a demographic profile of the older person
What is the age, gender, ethnicity, social class, education, current living arrangement, marital status, social network, etc. of the older person?
Describe important life experiences
Describe a few life experiences (i.e., major life events) that occurred throughout their life course
Include reflections/exact words (created by you) from the narrative of your older person
Analysis of the Narrative (approximately 2 pages)
Identify and define social structures (1 or 2) that are critical to understanding the older person’s life history (use definitions from the textbook or additional course material) and discuss how social structures shaped the life experiences
Include relevant sociological concepts (in addition to social structures) in your analysis. Concepts you may want to use can be found in the course textbook (and required readings on D2L). All concepts mentioned in the paper must be defined using the textbook and/or required readings on D2L
Choose ONE of the three sociological theoretical paradigms (structural functional OR social conflict OR symbolic interaction), describe the theoretical paradigm generally (e.g., micro/macro, view of society, key concepts) and discuss how the paradigm explains the life experiences
If you also want to include a specific theory within the paradigm please do so, however, this is not required (e.g., life course theory within the structural functional paradigm)
Explain the ways in which and reasons why (or why not) your older person’s life experiences fit (or not) with typical patterns, life course trends, and theoretical perspectives for their demographic profile and social positions in society
Provide evidence from academic peer reviewed sources to support this analysis
Conclusion (approximately 0.5 pages)
The conclusion should briefly summarize the narrative, the social structure(s) and the role it played in locating life experiences, and the theoretical analysis of the life experiences. Also include a statement of how looking at life history from a sociological perspective informs our understanding of the experiences of older persons.
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