Sociology Introduction Essay Samples

This document is intended as an additional resource for undergraduate students taking sociology courses at UW. It is not intended to replace instructions from your professors and TAs. In all cases follow course-specific assignment instructions, and consult your TA or professor if you have questions.

  • DO NOT PLAGIARIZE!  You must cite all sources you use—not only for direct quotations, but also for data, for facts that are not common knowledge, and very importantly for ideas that are not your own.  The UW policy on academic honest explains what plagiarism is, but also the consequences for students found to have committed it: http://www.washington.edu/uaa/advising/help/academichonesty.php
  • It is generally expected that you state your argument (usually called a "thesis statement") in the first couple paragraphs (preferably the first). For theory application papers, this would include mention of the theory or argument you are applying and the case or empirical phenomenon to which you are applying it.
  • Introductions and conclusions are important: they are the first and last impression given to your readers. A good introduction summarizes what the author does in the paper, and sets up ("motivates") the analytical problem or question. It is sometimes referred to as a "roadmap" for the paper.  Some writers find it effective to present an interesting or controversial statement or a quote in the introduction to gain the reader's attention. However, you should make certain that the quote or information is actually relevant to your thesis (your main argument)!
  • A good conclusion almost always restates the argument and the evidence brought to bear.  This is not a place to introduce new evidence or make new claims.  However, you might address unresolved issues, why we should care about the topic of the paper, directions for future research, etc.
  • Once you have completed the paper, you should revisit the introduction and conclusion to make sure that they "match" each other, and that they reflect the argument you make in the body of the paper.
  • Most analytical sociology assignments should not rely upon personal anecdotes, experiences, or opinions as "data" to make an argument.  This varies by assignment—for example, some ask you to incorporate personal experiences and opinions.  If you are unsure, check with your instructor or TA.
  • It is considered appropriate to use subject headers in longer analytical papers, as it helps guide the reader and organize your argument.
  • Unless you are instructed otherwise, it can be helpful to write analytical papers in first person (using "I statements"): this helps you avoid passive constructions, wordiness, and confusion about voice (who is arguing what).  If your instructor prefers that you avoid the first person in your papers, you can write "This paper argues…" in order to distinguish your voice from that of the authors/theories/articles you discuss.

Sample Essay Introductions
1.

Morality is a system of rules of conduct. These rules are constructed by maxims that prescribe the behaviour of the agent in particular circumstances. Whether the people follow these prescribed rules (depends) upon their own conscience. For this particular question, Durkheim and Mead each have contributed a theory to explain the internalisation of social control.
Now let's have a brief understanding of their theories. Durkheim's theory..... (
Mead makes hisfirst appearance 57 lines later)
See Comment

2.

Durkheim and Mead are two famous sociologists. They have their own theories on the topic of internalisation of social control. Their theories are different from each other. It is worthwhile to have a look on the comparison of their theories of the internalisation of social control.
Internalisation is the basis of social control, involving.....(
Durkheim makes his appearance inpara. 5, Mead in para. 10)
See Comment

3.

To start with, we should first explain the meaning of the term "social control".
Social control is the means through which a group or society secures its members' conformity to its expectation. Although the concept of social control has never been defined to the full satisfaction of sociologists, its images have been popularised either in a kind of positivistic empiricism or teleological induction. Social control can be attained through various media like socialisation and coercion. In this thesis we shall discuss the theories of Durkheim and Mead (for) the implication of internalisation of social control.
Durkheim in his essay.....

See Comment

4. Both Durkheim and Mead have discussed the theory of the internalisation of social control. Though the elaboration of their own theories is different, we can see that there are some similarities in their ideas.
Durkheim has stressed the importance of both desirability and obligation of moral acts. According to Durkheim, all ..... etc.

See Comment


Commentary on ‘Evaluating Sample Essay Introductions’
The main problem with all of these is redundancy - a lot of what is written could (should!) have been omitted. The writers did not revise their introductions to reflect the thinking that went into the essay. This is a major advantage of the word processor - you can write your Introduction last!

1.Morality is a system of rules of conduct ... etc.
This is one of the best, but the writer fails to address any differences - which is of course the point of the essay. The point " each … contributed a theory" is redundant - it’s given in the title.

 
2.Durkheim and Mead are two famous sociologists ... etc.
This essay starts with information that is redundant at this level & in this context ["Durkheim and Mead are two famous sociologists"]. In fact, the whole introductory paragraph is redundant, except for the news that they differ - but then that’s implied, & we’re not given any clue here as to how they differ. This woolly introduction shows the value of writing a first draft, of doing it on Word Processor, and of revising the introduction last.

 
3.To start with, we should first explain the meaning of the term "social control"....etc
Like 2., no background contextualisation. Should the starting point be social control or its internalisation, with specific reference to Durkheim & Mead. The reader is left feeling a lack of direct engagement with the question. Avoid this kind of heavy jargon [positivistic empiricism or teleological induction]. There is a rather sudden jump to internalisation in the last line of the paragraph, as if to say: that's what I've been talking about’ - which s/he hasn’t been!.

 
4.Both Durkheim and Mead have discussed the theory of the internalisation of social control...etc.
Like 3. above, the opening paragraph is almost entirely redundant, constituting knowledge that is already assumed in the question instruction ("Compare …"); we need to be given some clue as to how they differ [Given that they were different, it would seem strange to emphasise the similarities between their views].

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