Friday, December 6, 2013

Final Paper: Reflecting on Your Service Experience (Step3)

Click here for a google doc for the final paper or you can read it below: Looking back at your experiences in community service, reflect on what you did and relate it to sociology. This paper should be about your experiences in general. Do not simply restate what you have already written in your journals. Instead, look at your journals to refresh your memory about what you experienced and then try to make some generalizations about the experience. Apply these generalizations to the three areas below. You do not need to respond to every prompt below, but you should have well-developed and authentic answers to each of the three areas: application, sociological themes and sociological content. Each area should be written from your perspective as an individual. Your paper will be graded on the following components. This is due the second to last Friday before final exams. Journal: Please refer back to your journals to remind you of your experiences as you think about the three areas below: Application of the Experience: Evaluate the importance and value of voluntarism. How has this and will it affect your life in the short term & long term? Do you think that being involved in community (through the service experience) gives you sense of belonging and a feeling of being necessary that teens often lack, and how? Can you see how volunteering and helping others can contribute to the happiness and well-being of the volunteers? In what ways do you think that you have benefited from the experience? Was the experience rewarding/fulfilling? What did you take away from this experience? Sociological Themes: How might your experience reflect the idea of a sociological imagination? How are the private troubles of the people you served, a part of larger social forces? Use your sociological imagination to discuss why the people you served need volunteers. How are their lives (their reality) constructed by social forces? Has this experience helped you to become more sociological mindful? Why? Why not? Has this experience impacted the, “mark that you want to leave?” See Schwalbe’s Sociological Mindfulness for more on this idea. How might your service experience help to show the interconnectedness between people within society? Use examples from your own experiences. You might want to lookup what the organization you volunteered with does. Who do they help? Where does there money go? Sociological Content: Relate your experiences to sociology content. What aspects of class (or our blog) does this encompass? What connections do you see between the content of our class and the community service? Use our class notes, readings, and your blog to review all the ways your service experience might relate. Some ideas might be: What stereotypes were there before starting? Did any of these change? Was there any relation to gender, age, social class, race or any other group we discussed in sociology? Think about how the people you helped (and perhaps yourself) are socialized to think about themselves. Does culture play a part in the service experience? Maybe American values can be used to analyze the service experience. Perhaps you can think of the group as a subculture. Is there deviance involved? Perhaps the group you are working with is considered deviant by society. How might that affect those people? Maybe you are considered deviant for volunteering. Use the suggestions on the back of this sheet for other ideas of how the service experience connects to sociology. Also use at least 4 references to class discussions, activities, readings and videos. If you need help remembering all of the specifics of what we did in class, use my blog. Go through it and refresh your memory. Format: Write in proper format. Use a standard font type, size 10-12, margins .5-1.25, double space. Use proper prose and paragraphs, be cohesive and turn it in on time. Besides proper academic writing, your paper should be authentic. Do not fill your paper with generic clich├ęs. Explain why and how from your unique perspective. Used detailed examples from your own experiences to support your answers. Here are some ways to help you think about how your service experience relates to sociology content: Culture: Identify unique elements in your service experience, such as: material culture, norms, values and sanctions. Consider how these cultural elements aid in the functioning of the organization and how they contrast with mainstream elements of culture. Socialization: Analyze the modes of interaction that you engaged in during your service. Where there differences in the way that you acted towards the clients versus other volunteers versus members of the organization? Did you see any processes of socialization occurring with yourself or with the clients that you were working with? Deviance: Reflect on the whether the organization or clientele of the organization where you were volunteering bears any stigma from the larger community. Often times, community-service organizations have the primary goal of aiding individuals who carry a deviant identity. Whether it is poverty, substance abuse, illness, age, disability, etc. Observe how the clients manage their stigmatized identities. How do the workers at the organization treat the clients? Do the clients manage or reject the label of deviant? How does the work of the organization help change societal perceptions of the stigmatized? Social Class: What role does class inequality play in their organization? How is the organization funded? How do community service organizations in general generate enough interest for people to volunteer their time and donate their money to help others? How does charity fit into the American Dream ideology? Do you believe that most Americans are willing to sacrifice some of their own wealth to help those in need? Why? Why not? Race/Ethnicity: Reflect on the racial and ethnic dynamic of their organization. Is there a difference between the racial or ethnic composition of the staff, the volunteers, and the clientele? Did your experiences of the racial or ethnic composition at the organization parallel your everyday experiences? Have you gained any insight into a particular group? Explain.


  1. I'm having trouble with sociological themes, care to explain?

    1. Themes are:
      Sociological imagination- how are individuals shaped by their surroundings?
      You can write about how the individuals you served are shaped by their social position or why they need volunteer help.
      Social construction of reality - how is the experience of people created by our society? This is not that different from Soc Imagination.
      Soc mindfulness - how do you impact the world? How can you see the world with a new appreciation for individual differences? Can you understand how others are shaped differently?

      Those are the three themes. You can write about any or all of them. Just use specific examples from your own experience.