SYNTHESIS OF ASSIGNED READINGS

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Answer the essay question below by analyzing and comparing at least eight required or suggested readings of your choice.

Essay Question:

What are the limitations of technological determinism as a theory for explaining the relationship between information technology and society, what is a more appropriate theory for explaining this relationship, and why?

For this essay, you are expected to answer the question above by writing an argumentative synthesis of course readings. This means that you are expected to read and analyze the required readings from the course, and draw upon central themes, concepts, and ideas between them. You are expected to select

eight required or suggested readings from different authors (please note, this does not include module material or the readings from Millar & Schifellite – these do not count for this paper) analyze them, and synthesize your thoughts and

observations about how they answer the essay question listed above. Your essay must include a thesis statement which every point in your essay directly relates to. This thesis statement should be presented as an argument that is defended throughout your paper. You will be graded on your ability to craft a

nuanced argument that demonstrates a close reading of the chapters or articles that you have chosen, as well as your ability to acknowledge and negotiate the different points of view that emerge. Your argument should connect higher-

level abstract sociological theories and themes to a specific example or series of examples that you find in the readings.

While it is up to you to decide which readings you refer to, your paper must directly refer to at least eight different required or suggested readings from different authors (Once again, from eight different authors –not material from the modules). If you wish to refer to multiple chapters from the same author (for instance, David Nye, these would count as one reading). Since you will be graded on the level of detail that you draw out of the

readings, you are asked not to include any additional research, or external material that does not come from this course. Additionally, you must demonstrate that you have actually read the readings themselves, and so you are asked not to include quotations from the readings that already appear within the modules. Keep in mind that while only a small number of readings will directly discuss technological determinism, all the assigned readings in the course (both required and suggested), can be considered

relevant when answering this question, depending on how you discuss them.

Since this paper is designed to encourage you to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the course reading material, students are asked to not include readings from the week of their group project in their final paper. Students are also asked to draw from readings across several modules, rather than select all the readings from two or three modules. Please note that you must go beyond merely summarizing each reading. You must develop a specific argument about how these readings relate not only to the essay question, but to each

other, and bring forward a thesis statement and argument about

what they, collectively, tell us about the relationship between technology and society.

You are expected to articulate a clearly defined thesis statement which you will then use to defend a unique argument that you follow throughout your paper. This thesis statement should respond to the essay question while demonstrating

an ability to connect together concepts and ideas from multiple authors and readings.

Please take the following points into consideration:

  • You must connect the higher-level and more abstract theoretical concepts (which are discussed in Nye, Quan-Haase, Naiman, Starr) to the case studies and examples presented throughout the class. You are expected to understand what it means to treat technology as a system, and your points must always be informed by reference to sociological theories and specific examples from the readings.
  • Your paper should acknowledge how the readings that you have chosen to discuss might relate to each other, reinforce each other, and contradict each other. In comparing and contrasting the readings that you have chosen to discuss, you must always relate each point back to the essay question, your thesis statement and overall argument. This means your essay should always relate back to a critique of technological determinism.
  • Your paper must also not make any broad generalizations about technology, or refer to personal thoughts or experience. This paper is asking you to do a close reading and analysis of the readings and material that is present in the course, not to give your own personal views about the important of a given social media platform or technology. All points that you make must be directly supported by evidence from the readings.
  • For this essay, it is important that you go beyond a simple descriptive account of the readings that you have chosen. Your argument must be analytical, and connect theory to direct examples. You should identify the main arguments and examples that relate to your argument. When appropriate, you should be able to identify the different positions and perspectives on your argument. When relevant, you should be able to acknowledge how the different types of sociological approaches that we have learned in this course (for example, social construction of technology, political economy, the various types of feminisms) take different views on this topic. Any points that you make must be directly related to your

argument.

  • Try to pick an argument that is manageable within the assigned word count, and which will allow you to develop an analytical argument in some degree of detail. Do not leave this paper to the last minute, as it is very obvious when this has been the case. Take notes as you conduct your readings to record any intersecting themes that emerge.

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