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My Sociological Autobiography

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(50 points)

Purpose:  The purpose of this assignment is to encourage you to think sociologically about your own life.  This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate cumulative knowledge of sociology from throughout the course and to apply this way of thinking to your own experiences.

Assignment:  Write a professional 5-7-page paper typed and double-spaced.  The paper should cover the topics below.

We are who we are because of our experiences in the social world.  Think back on your own life experiences.  Write about one or more aspects of your life and interpret from a sociological perspective.  You don’t have to tell your whole life story; most effective papers focus only on one or more specific aspects of your life.  Try to distance yourself and approach your life as a detached observer might.  Your job is to examine the role of external social forces in shaping your life.  You may also discuss your own individual agency, but this should be in reference to social forces and how agency and social forces work together. Be specific, using concrete examples and social events/occurrences. You should discuss personal events, but focus on how these events illustrate sociological concepts and tie into bigger social issues.  Use concepts from class to explain how your life is shaped by society. In other words, narrate your life story using sociological language.  Your goal is to make connections between private experiences and public issues. You should conduct additional research to see if you are an outlier or if your experiences are similar to other patterns noted by social scientists.  Cite all your sources. 

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Drafts:  I expect a well written, sociologically thoughtful paper.  How the writing is organized, style, and grammar will all be important parts of making this paper successful.  I highly encourage you to write more than one (and probably several) drafts of the paper, read and re-write, before submitting.  If you would like feedback, I would be very glad to review your paper in advance of the deadline and to provide detailed comments and suggestions. (please submit at least one week early) Details & Grading:  The details of what I’m looking for in this assignment are noted in the rubric (Links to an external site.).  The paper will be graded according to this rubric. I encourage you to carefully consider this rubric (Links to an external site.) as you write and edit your paper.


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Additional Resources to help you with your brainstorming: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Sample Papers



Sociological Autobiography Rubric


The rubric below should provide direction for your sociological autobiography.  This rubric will be used to grade your paper.  Note, in order to get an A on this paper, you will need to receive almost all Excellent ratings.  I encourage you to consider this rubric as you write and edit your paper.

  Poor Fair Good Excellent
Specifically explains how life experiences are shaped by social forces giving clear, specific and relevant examples.


Demonstrates deep understanding of at least 3 specific theories or concepts introduced in class (e.g.,  functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interaction, norms, values, stigma, looking glass self, status, power, conformity, social control, etc.).


Demonstrates deep understanding of at least 3 specific social institutions (e.g., family, marriage, race, gender, religion, education, government, economy, work, sexuality, class, crime, etc.).


Makes explicit connections between private experiences and social issues.


Explains why it is important that our individual lives are shaped by social forces.  Why does this matter?  What are the implications?


Exhibits creativity and makes a unique contribution


Displays excellent professional writing style, grammar, and organization        


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