Applying a Theoretical Perspective and Locating Blind Spots: Student Cell Phone Cheating


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Length: five pages plus works cited. The paper should be typed, doubled-spaced, paginated. This paper gives you the opportunity to apply one of the sociological theories to a real-world situation and through this analysis discover how different theories create different interpretations as well as how any given theoretical perspective will ignore (or create blind spots) about elements of a situation to which it is applied.

In this case the real world situation has been chosen for you: a 2012 cheating incident at Stuyvesant High School involving students’ use of cell phones.
The process:
First: Read all of following New York Times articles in attachment.
(Baker 2012): “Students Are Suspended in Stuyvesant Cheating.” New York Times, September 7.
(Perez-Pena 2012): “Studies Find More Students Cheating With High Achievers No Exception.” New York Times, September 7.
(Yee 2012): “Stuyvesant Students Describe the How and the Why of Cheating.” New York Times, September 25.
(Baker 2013): “Stuyvesant Principal, Now Retired, Mishandled Cheating Case, Report Says.” New York Times, August 30.

Next: Select ONE of the following three major sociological theoretical perspectives to apply:
Durkheim: Functionalism
Marx and Engels: Materialist Conception of History/Historical Materialism [Note: apply by looking through this materialist “lens” as a sociologist- I do not want you to approach Marxism as an either viable or failed political regime].
Mead, Cooley, and Blumer: Symbolic Interactionism

Then: Apply your theory to the content of each of the articles, sequentially. Your goal is a clear, concise essay in which you both apply your chosen theory to the media coverage of the cell phone cheating scandal and turn your critical eye back upon your theory to identify what your chosen perspective does not let you address.

The paper do not explain or summarize the entire story first – this is not a book report on the Times articles.)
Analysis of the situation using the theory: Discuss how your chosen theoretical perspective would look at the issues and actions of this situation. Use your theory to shed light on and understand the events and accounts described in the articles. What assumptions are the theory leading you to make in understanding the social events described? What questions, concerns, and issues are persistent focuses of your application? [75 points]

What didn’t you get to talk about: Having completed the above, go back and consider the frustrations you experienced when your perspective would not allow you to talk about something you found interesting in the articles: this will help you identify what are the “blindspots” in your chosen theoretical perspective’s treatment of the whole cheating issue. In other words, what does the theoretical perspective you have chosen not help you to explain or even “see?” Here discuss what appear to be the limitations of the theory, what it fails to take into account, or appreciate that you think could be important. For example, a microsociological theoretical perspective can’t see the much bigger macrosociological picture. [10 points]

Reflect on the limitations: Now that you are aware of these blindspots, comment on what this exercise reveals to you about sociological theoretical perspectives “as lenses” in terms of what only one could possibly help you to see. [5 points]

Wrapping it up: In conclusion, provide a candid (and thoughtfully developed) first person narrative discussing how writing this paper has changed your understanding of the culture of cheating? If, by some chance, you contend that this assignment has in no way changed your understanding of the culture of cheating, you can’t get off easy here: elaborate on how it served
to confirm your (past or present) insider view of the culture of cheating, confessions optional. [10 points]

Helpful hints:
Some articles will likely seem to have a particular focus that lends itself more readily to your perspective’s concerns — you can spend more time on those articles. If you believe that the lens of your perspective would not see and thus address something discussed in an article you should ignore discussing it. I appreciate that this requires a certain discipline of purpose that might be
frustrating because you find that part of the article interesting.
Citations and References:

You many use either APA or MLA documentation. Be careful to cite all original ideas not just direct quotes from the article and readings

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