English 101, Section 013

D Vilhotti

October 1, 2007              


Project Two: Experience-Based Theory Critique Essay


Purposes:         To practice analytical reading skills in social science theory

To demonstrate your ability to read critically

                        To demonstrate your skills of summary (paraphrase and citation)

                        To demonstrate your ability to respond to the ideas of others in significant

and meaningful ways


Audiences:        Your audience is a group of fellow classmates who are unfamiliar with the

details of the theory or reading you will be summarizing and responding



The Assignment:

In this paper, you will begin by carefully studying a work of social science theory. You can include work from the fields of sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science and so on.


Once you have identified and studied your theoretical frame and can identify its major components, including the pivotal claims and issues discussed, you will offer your understanding of the piece in the form of summary of these major ideas / components.  You will want to show also how these major ideas relate to one another in such a way that they offer a theoretical framework for understanding a particular social or psychological phenomenon. 


Following your summary, you will offer a response to the ideas presented in the work.  In this response, you will apply the ideas of the frame to your personal experience or to the experiences of others.  Following the directions for responding to a work in K&S, you should “do this for each individual point, not just the thesis.  In doing so, note where the theory doesn’t quite fit, where it leaves out factors, or simply where the explanation doesn’t satisfy you.  Write out your dissatisfaction”(127). 


In addition, you will also want to note and explain the places where the theory supports or mirrors your experience / knowledge.  Take care that you are offering a complete and accurate summary.  Also, be sure that you are carrying ideas to their logical conclusions in your responses, and that you develop in meaningful and substantial ways.  For help from your textbook with this, consult “Participating in Theoretical Debates” on pages 125-135.




There are essentially two ways to organize this essay. One of these is to complete a full summary of the theoretical frame, and then to offer a substantial response at the end of your summary.  The other way is to offer a response point-by-point as you move through the summary of the theoretical piece.  No matter which organizational strategy you employ, you will want to be sure to provide the name/s of the author/s whose work you are summarizing along with the title of the piece in the beginning paragraph.


Your ideas should flow naturally from one point or issue to another.  Do not number your points. 


Technical Matters:


·Length:  6-7 pages (at least 1,800 words)


·Formatting:  Following the directions for formatting as specified on the course syllabus.


·Grading Weight:  20% of course average


·Documentation:  Because you are engaging in work typical of that done in the social sciences, you should use the documentation system most often used by professionals in that field—the APA method.  Your handbook provides specific details for how to document according to APA guidelines.