Pratt Sociology Paper Topics


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Choose one of the two topics below. Your paper should be approximately 5 pages (double-spaced, 1 in. margins, 12 pt. type, Times New Roman font). You may use a few in-text citations (MLA format) from the readings when applicable, but keep them short

and do not let them dominate your paper. You should sum up the ideas of the authors in


INTERNET and even other articles, chapters, and books from these authors. This paper is worth 25 points or one-fourth of your total grade for the course.



Topic 1: What are the similarities and differences in how Weber and Geertz define and construct a theory of culture as an analytical concept? Compare and contrast the strengths and limitations in Weber and Geertz’s approaches to analyzing culture with regard to the objects of their analyses (i.e. Protestantism/capitalism, the cockfight).


Utilize the following readings:


Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Geertz’s “Thick Description: Towards an Interpretive Theory of Culture” and “Deep

Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”


Topic 2: What are the essential characteristics of the bureaucratic form of organization for Weber? How does Ritzer apply Weber’s theory to McDonaldization? What are the discontents with bureaucracy noted by Weber and Ritzer and evidenced in the literary works of Kafka and Melville? Describe the psychosocial forces that bind bureaucratic organizations together for Weber and Freud (i.e. legitimation, libidinal ties), and explain how they operate.


Utilize the following readings:


My outline of Weber’s ideal-type of bureaucracy

Ritzer’s The McDonaldization of Society

Melville’s “Bartelby”

Kafka’s “Before the Law”

Freud’s “Two Artificial Groups: The Church and the Army”

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