Identity – Text #5 and Adler & Adler
Overview. Each student is required to post 6 journal entries in which you define and apply concepts from the readings to your past or present everyday life (each of the first two are worth 3% of final grade, each of the last 4 are worth 4%). All entries must be formatted according to the directions below. Due dates are listed in the schedule at the end of the syllabus. The 3 concepts for each journal entry must be found in the required readings scheduled on the same day that the journal entries are due. For example, if you were scheduled to post your first entry on the same day you are supposed to read Chapter 1, you must chose concepts from Chapter 1 to write about. Importantly, each journal entry must contain 3 concepts, 3 stories, and 3 interpretations and must be formatted correctly (see below).
No late journals will be accepted (unless you meet the requirements for makeup work, as explained toward the end of the syllabus). You can write and post journal entries early, before your deadline, so make sure you do so if you know you are going to be busy or away. Note, it is important to write out and save your entry in a word processing program before you paste it into your online journal—otherwise a glitch in your Internet connection will erase all your work.
How do I format a journal entry? Each journal entry MUST be formatted as follows:
At the start of your entry, you must in bold write:
“CONCEPT 1: NAME OF CONCEPT HERE:” Then, write at least one paragraph (5-6 sentences) in which you define it in your own words, explain its nuances or variations, give examples, link it to the reading or give an example from the reading. The more in depth you get, the more likely you will receive full credit.
Then have a blank line, and on a new line write in bold:
“STORY 1:” And then paste your detailed story, which should be at least two paragraphs. Your story should be written in the first person (e.g., “I first noticed he was sort of odd when… I wondered if something was troubling him…”). It should be an account of a social situation, relationship, event in whatever setting you may have experienced and want to write about (family or work, college or elementary school, athletic teams or musical groups, religious organizations or party scenes). Write about what you saw, what you thought about it, how you felt, what you remember saying and how others reacted, what others said or did, and how you or others reacted. Your stories will be the data that you will—in the next section—use your concept(s) to analyze.
When you finish the story, insert a blank line. On a new line, write in bold:
“INTERPRETATION 1: NAME OF CONCEPT HERE” and then write one or two paragraphs in which you explain how the concept helps you understand something you discussed in the story. This involves stepping back and interpreting or analyzing your experience and explicitly referencing the concept and conveying it’s meaning. It’s NOT enough to use the concept name in passing; you must demonstrate your knowledge of it. So, for example, you might start this by saying something like, “My experience is a pretty good example of the looking glass self because when X happened, I took the perspective of my friend, imagined s/he thought I was cool, and then felt proud of myself. But then later I took the perspective of my boss, imagined s/he thought I was a fool, and felt embarrassed. Both of these different feelings were part of the same kind of looking class process because they went through three stages, which are… This shows that I can often change my feelings just by deciding to take a different perspective. Now that I think about it, I can think of other times something like this has happened, including on time when… I see from these examples that I often change how I act due to how the looking glass process unfolds. If I feel embarrassed or could imagine feeling ashamed by acting one way, I try to avoid acting that way… In some ways, this process is connected to social control or power because it shapes how I act and people with authority…” In this example, the interpretation is a good one because it does the following: points to details in the story that are particularly relevant to the concept (e.g., took the perspective, imagined she thought I was cool, then felt proud), explained why it was an example of the concept and brought up it’s three stages, alluded to or brought up additional examples, discussed consequences or possible consequences for interaction (e.g., tried to avoid acting like that), and linked it to other sociological concepts or larger issues (e.g., social control and power). Try to do something similar when writing your interpretations.
When finished with your interpretation using your first concept and story, insert a blank line and
start your second one by writing in bold:
“CONCEPT 2: NAME OF CONCEPT HERE:” After defining it, move on your second story and interpretation and then your third story and interpretation using the same format. In other words, each journal entry MUST contain a total of three concepts, three stories, and three interpretations.
What are concepts? Concepts refer to terms or phrases, such as “the looking glass self,” “joint action,” or “othering,” “the religion of civility,” that sociological social psychologists have created to label and better understand basic internal, symbolic, and/or interactional processes. These concepts make up a symbolic interactionists’ tool kit for helping us understand how and why things happen, and they can help everyone make sense of their own lives. If you are not sure what constitutes a “concept,” ask yourself what the main point of the article or section of a textbook chapter is (e.g., managing emotions, parenting styles, etc.) and use those concepts or their variations (e.g., in the article about parenting styles, for example, it discusses two variations including “concerted cultivation” and “natural growth”). It is also very useful to look at the reading guide questions, as these often use or point you to key concepts in each reading (appropriate concepts in the reading guide have been highlighted). Because these journal entries are designed to help you learn key concepts that you will be tested on, try to choose main concepts from the readings, rather than ones that are only addressed in passing.
How do I know what kinds of stories to write about? Sometimes students are not sure what kinds of stories to write about. There are two basic ways you can approach writing a journal entry if you are unsure. First, reflect on your life experiences, whether good or bad, memorable or almost forgettable, and ask yourself “How might a concept from today’s reading help me understand this event/interaction/relationship.” Second, review the definition of a key concept from the reading and ask how the authors apply it and then ask, “Have I ever thought/felt/talked/interacted in a similar way?” You are free to write about your relatively distant past (things that happened when you were growing up or in high school), more recent past, or things going on in your life right now. Try to make the assignment useful by writing about things you want to reflect on, things you don’t want to forget (how you experienced family life, your favorite college memories, the birth of a child, etc.). A good story provides details surrounding who/what/where/how, paints a scene of what occurred, mentions what you were thinking and feeling, and is usually a couple paragraphs long. It should come from your own experience if possible. But if you really can’t come up with anything, feel free write about something that you have witnessed or observed or heard about form others.
What if the readings are about groups I have never been a part of? How am I supposed to use concepts from those readings to interpret an experience from my own life? Remember that when applying concepts used in an article about a group that you yourself have not participated in (e.g., college basketball players’ “gloried self” or transgender support group’s “emotion work”), that the concepts in those articles likely help you explain some other aspect of your life (e.g., having a gloried self as part of a successful chorus or debate club or doing emotion work in a church group or work setting). In other words, when writing about concepts, do not get hung up on the particular group studied, but think about how the process of what the authors are addressing (emotion work, gloried selves, etc.) can be applicable to other types of experiences. If you are doing it right, your application or interpretation should explicitly address your reasoning about why you believe what happened in your story is an example of the concept (and how it is, perhaps, slightly different).
How do I go about posting journal entries? You can locate the journal through the “Private Journal” link area of the course website. From there, click on the appropriate journal number; for example, the first journal will be listed as “Journal 1.” To post a journal entry, once inside the corresponding journal (e.g., “Journal 1”), click on “create journal entry” which is at the upper left of the screen. Then in the “title” box, enter “Journal 1.” Note: do NOT attach files, make sure the text appears in the text box. Also, it is your responsibility to make sure that the journal entry is visible, appropriately formatted, submitted, and available to grade; if weeks after the due date you claim to have posted it but it has “disappeared,” we cannot give you credit.
How do I avoid technical difficulties when posting journal entries? To avoid problems, you may need to (1) use FIREFOX web browser, make sure you update it and turn off “block pop ups” and instant messaging; (2) do not type directly into the journal entry form as you could lose what you write if your lose your connection or accidently hit the “back” button; instead (3) use a word processing program to write and save your entry, and then paste it into the text box. Note, to add bold or otherwise format your text after pasting it into Blackboard’s textbox, make sure the you have clicked “editor” located in the upper right hand corner of the text box, and then a window will appear to change the font, etc.
How are journal entries graded? Each journal entry is worth 5% of your final grade. They will be graded with the following rubric, based on a 100-point scale:
30 pts: Each concept is clearly defined in own words. This should be at least one full paragraph and not only include a definition, but a discussion of the nuances of the concept (if it has sub-processes; e.g., types of emotion work) and examples from chapter/article/the larger culture.
30 pts: Stories are at least two paragraphs long and detailed and well written; no major spelling or grammatical errors.
30 pts: Use the concepts to interpret your experience. Explicitly link concept to experience, talk about consequences, link to related issues, examples, etc.
10 pts: Directions followed, formatted correctly, and grammatically correct.
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