A brief description of the person and their contribution to social theory (this does not equal a list of publications!).


The paper will be a critical analysis and application of one of the classical theorists. You will apply the perspective and concepts of ONE of the “fab four” – Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel to a regional phenomenon or problem. Pick a current phenomenon or problem here in the community or region and describe and analyze the problem using their point of view. You will need to apply the overall perspective, the terminology and the concepts of the chosen theorist to the issue you picked.

In your paper you need to include:

  1. A brief description of the person and their contribution to social theory (this does not equal a list of publications!).
  2. A brief description of a local or regional social phenomenon or problem.
  3. An explanation of the phenomenon or problem using the theorists’ terminology and concepts. What is happening and why? What are the causes and consequences of the observed phenomenon? (THIS IS THE WHERE YOU EARN THE BULK OF YOUR POINTS!)
  4. ….and how the theorist would suggest to remedy the problem or phenomenon.
  5. A critical reflection on where the theorist would fall short in explaining the phenomenon, e.g. where the theorist might be out-of-date, which new developments he did not account for, etc.

Examples of applying the theorists to a contemporary phenomenon or problem would be: how would Durkheim’s theory of suicide applied to the known high rates of suicide in Idaho, what would Marx say about fights over irrigation rights, what would Durkheim say about bullying in schools, what would Marx have to say about the high rate of domestic violence or the high unemployment rates in Southeast Idaho, what would Simmel say about the music scene or poetry scene in Pocatello, how would Weber judge the influence of Native American religion on the economic situation in Fort Hall, how would Weber analyze the role of the major in Pocatello?

I will post a list of additional current phenomena online.


The paper should be at most 6 pages long (I will not accept any paper longer than 6 pages – that excludes references!). The paper will count 40 points towards your final grade and will be graded according to the evaluation criteria listed below.

All papers have to be type-written, spell-checked, and proofread. The fond should be 12, line-spacing 1.5. You are expected to use an appropriate format for citations and references (ASA style – a brief outline of ASA style is posted on your Moodle). Students should retain a copy of the paper. Put your name and the title of the course on the paper.

Here is a list – not exhaustive – of possible topics for your paper. Remember, the paper is an application of one of the 4 main theorists to a local or regional issue/topic. You will need to research some more on these topics and think how you can apply a theorist to explain the issue!

Northgate development in Pocatello

Rapid population growth in Boise and rising housing costs

High rates of domestic violence in Idaho

Meth and other drug use in SE Idaho

The low quality of public education in Idaho

Problematic behavior of some Yellowstone visitors, e.g., petting Bisons

Restoring the “I” on Red Hill at Idaho State University

New phosphate mine with 5 open pits to be built in East Idaho

Public land in Nevada opened for oil and gas drilling

Tax breaks and public support for solar energy in Pocatello

The debate about dam removal in Idaho

A proposal to merge Pocatello and Chubbuck

Living in a community with one predominant religion

Mexican agricultural workers in SE Idaho

Lack of health care facilities and providers in rural Idaho

Gun ownership in Idaho

Rural poverty in Idaho

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