Purpose: To apply the core assumptions of sociology, including your sociological imagination, to the issues of bullying and school shootings to show the ways in which the structure of society shapes our lives.
What is NOT your purpose: your purpose is NOT to summarize the book, Rampage, or the film, Bully. Rather, you are going to use the book and the film to demonstrate our course’s larger point about the societal/structural forces that shape our choices, our lives. If we are using our sociological imagination, we can see 1) how society and its institutions (like small towns and schools) are structured and are, perhaps, flawed, and 2) how this structure influences us. Rampage and Bully will help us to see, in particular, how that is the case with school shootings and bullying.

Structure of the essay:
Paragraph 1 – Brief introduction.
Here lay out the paper’s assertion, your big idea. This is important: what is your assertion? You need to think about what you’re asserting about school shootings and bullying and how they are shaped by both the structure of society and by our own agency. Then make and support that assertion in your paper. Your assertion could be something as simple as, “the structure of society shapes the options available to the people living in the society. School shootings and bullying are made possible because of how society’s institutions, including small town schools, are structured. Our agency to act is shaped and limited by this structure.”
This part of your paper should be 150-185 words.

Paragraph 2-3 – Introduction to “seeing” sociologically, to using the ideas of sociology to analyze the social world.
In the first of these 2 paragraphs, you will lay out what sociologists hold to be true about the world, about what shapes or influences our lives. Make an assertion about what one sees or tries to understand when looking at the world sociologically, when using a sociological imagination. Here you don’t necessarily want to summarize every part of the “core assumptions of sociology” (from the first set of lecture notes) but you do want to set up the idea that, to understand the social world and what shapes the people in it, sociologists look at how society is “structured,” recognizing that that structure shapes the options available to each of us.
In the second paragraph, you will set up the idea that looking at the world sociologically (that is, seeing something through the core ideas of sociology and sociological imagination) helps us to understand even specific phenomena or issues, including school shootings and bullying. Here you want to set up the idea that trying to understand or explain school shootings and bullying by just looking at the flaws of individuals is inadequate; it can only take us so far. Instead, we need to think about school shootings and bullying sociologically – meaning, to see how they are made possible by the way that society is structured or organized, a product of society’s institutions. We need to ground our thinking in the core ideas of sociology and use our sociological imagination because these are more than just the “private troubles” of individuals, these are “public issues” that involve many and are caused (or magnified) by “institutional arrangements,” as C. Wright Mills said. To understand these problems and why they happen when and where they do, an analysis of the social structure must be undertaken, specifically, the social structure of 1) small towns, 2) their schools, and 3) teen culture. [Rampage explores all three of these, and Bully provides supporting evidence, but you will not need to explore all three – instead, you should narrow your focus to one or two of these parts of the social structure. More on this below.]
It is in one of these paragraphs that you should pull in another course reading (beyond Rampage) for support. Perhaps the Mills chapter or another chapter/reading that helps the reader to see what we mean when we talk about “seeing sociologically” and “using our sociological imagination.” Remember to refer to this reading by name (you can quote if you want to, or just paraphrase), but do so following the required citation format (see the yellow page of your syllabus for “in-text citation format.”).
This part of your paper should be approximately 400-500 words.

Paragraphs 4-8 or so (the “body” paragraphs) – Discussion of the “institutional arrangements” that contribute to school shootings and bullying, to show the ways that the structure of society shapes individuals’ lives.
According to Rampage, certain institutional arrangements contribute to school shootings and bullying. Specifically, the book looks at how small towns are structured or organized, how small town schools are organized (their practices and procedures), and the organization of teen culture (especially in small towns where school shootings are more common). The authors (Newman et al. 2005) suggest there are flaws in these structures, in these institutions, that allow school shootings and bullying to happen and may even give rise to them. To write this, the body of your paper, consider the structure of these institutions, how they are arranged (how they are organized, the policies that are in place, the procedures that are followed or not), and the norms that extend from these structures/institutions and become the rules for people’s behavior.
Your focus, then, will be on the structures within which people live, including kids, and how this structure shapes them, contributing to school shootings and bullying. So you will need to be sure to do two things: 1) describe the structure and problems or flaws in it, and 2) demonstrate / provide evidence of how the structure and/or these flaws affect people (leading to shootings and bullying, leading kids to not “tell,” leading teachers to not connect the dots, etc.).
You will need to incorporate details from Rampage and Bully about these structures within which people live and the effects of these structures on individuals’ lives.
I like to see quotes – one or two per paragraph in this part of the paper – because they lend disciplinary authority to your paper.
And you will need to draw from both Rampage and Bully. The best papers use BOTH the book and the film in the same paragraph in the body of the paper – not every paragraph, but sometimes – to help you to make a point about how the social structure contributes to school shootings and bullying. Rampage will be your principle source, but Bully should provide important supporting details.
This part of your paper should be about 800-1000 words.

Concluding paragraph – Reflection on the relationship between structure and agency.
You’ve already talked about the role of structure in understanding school shootings and bullying, but now come back to agency and its place in this analysis. How does agency come into play here? In other words, how are school shootings and bullying also about agency, not just structure? You want to demonstrate here why understanding both structure and agency is beneficial if we wish to truly understand school shootings and bullying (and life in society in general).
This part of your paper should be 250-400 words.

Works Cited page — When you refer to course readings or outside sources (the latter are not recommended) in your paper, you will need to cite those sources using the format provided at the end of the syllabus. Use this format to cite sources in the text of the paper and when constructing your Works Cited page.
Citations within the text of your paper: when you use other authors’ ideas or when you quote them directly, be sure to cite them appropriately within the text of your paper. Since Readings for Sociology is an edited book, you will cite the author of the specific reading, not Massey (he’s the editor, not a chapter author). See the front page of “Citing Sources” later in this syllabus for an explanation of all of this.
Your Works Cited page: be sure to attach a “Works Cited” (i.e., bibliography) page (not included in page limits). The back page of “Citing Sources” (at the end of the syllabus) gives examples to guide you. Specifically, consult the example for listing chapters from edited books (such as the chapters from Readings for Sociology).

Word count:
Right after your concluding paragraph, on the next line, please provide the word count for your paper. Insert something like this: “Word count: XXXX.” Do not include the title or the Works Cited section in your count. To get the word count, highlight the section you wish to count, then, depending on the version of Word you’re using, you can check word count by going to “edit” on the toolbar or, on newer versions, by looking in the lower left corner.
Your paper should be in the ballpark of 1700-1900 words, though I won’t read beyond 2000 words. If you’re not getting close to 1700, it’s because you haven’t talked with enough depth or detail about the social structure and how it contributes to school shootings and bullying (paragraphs 4-8 or so). So, add more discussion, pull in more examples, bring in more quotes.

Bonus reading:
I will give bonus points to anyone who pulls in – in a meaningful way – a reference to a 3rd course reading. The best place to do that might be in paragraphs 2 or 3. Consider the readings from the first week of the course.

Papers must be typed, with 1.5 spacing (or thereabouts), and cite properly using the prescribed format.

You will turn in your paper to the D2L Dropbox. Your paper must be turned in as a Word document. The folks at the computer lab can help you to convert your document to Word if needed.

I will grade your paper electronically and return the graded paper to you via the D2L Dropbox.

The paper due date (and time) is listed in the Course Organization and Schedule (earlier in this syllabus). Any paper that comes in after that date and time is considered late. Late papers will lose 5 points for each day they are late.

Grading will be based on the richness of detail, depth of the argument, use of Rampage, Bully and a course reading to support your assertion, and your ability to tie main points into the essay’s overall questions with strong topic sentences to create strong, focused paragraphs. I will be watching for your assertion.

Structure and Agency Essay – check list / grade sheet

Questions for Grading:
Was the paper organized around the assignment’s questions/focus, exploring how flaws in the social structure contribute to school shootings and bullying?

Did the student show that he/she understands sociological concepts, including the assumptions of sociology, the Sociological Imagination, structure and agency, and did he/she use those concepts in insightful, analytical and useful ways?

Did the student use details from Rampage to set up or support his/her assertion, to lend disciplinary authority to his/her larger point?

Did the student use details from Bully to set up or support his/her assertion, to lend disciplinary authority to his/her larger point?

Did the student use a reading from Readings for Sociology or another course reading to set up or support his/her assertion, to lend disciplinary authority to his/her larger point?

Was the paper written well, with 1) an original argument and supporting details/evidence, 2) an engaging introduction, 3) clear language, 4) thorough, detailed and organized development of points, and 5) proper grammar and spelling? Did the paper have a larger point – did it make an assertion, supported by well-developed paragraphs?

Was the paper turned in on time? (5 points lost for each business day late)

Did the student attach a Works Cited page/section?
Did the student cite appropriately in the paper and follow the guidelines for the Works Cited page (see last page of the syllabus)?

Did the student follow formatting requirements?
Bonus Reading: Did the student use another course reading?
Comments on paper:
Structure and Agency Essay grade (out of 50):

Grade scale: A = 45-50
B = 40-44
C = 35-39
D = 30-34
F = 29 or lower
1 A reminder to start each paragraph with a topic sentence that illustrates how each paragraph ties in to the assignment question. Your topic sentence should make an assertion – make a statement – that the paragraph will then support.

2 Floating quotes: tie quotes in with a sentence preceding and following that introduces the quote (rather than just throwing it out there) and shows the importance of the quote.

3 Close the loop: come back to the paragraph’s point, making it clear to the reader how this all fits into the paper’s larger assertion.

4 Don’t just summarize the reading. Come back to the paragraph and paper’s point. Close the loop. Though you’ll want to be both subtle and explicit about it, your task here is to state for the reader how the reading supports or helps to make the paragraph’s point.

5 Run-on sentences. Break them up into short, concise sentences.

6 INTRO — You must convey the essay’s purpose, the point of the whole thing. More importantly, you should set the stage for your essay and your assertion. This would be the ideal place to frame the paper by introducing the larger framework. Introduce the idea that our personal live, including yours, can be best understood by understanding the influence of the larger structure on our agency to make choices. Make you assertion clear here.

7 Cite the year of the source in which you found the quote. So, citations of chapters from Readings for Sociology would list 2012, the year our edition was published.

8 Even if you refer to the title of the source, you still need to cite the author/s and year, following the format laid out in the “citing sources” guide in the syllabus. For instance, with Rampage, you would add the citation (Newman et al. 2005) right after the book title. (See the first set of examples on pg. 13 of the syllabus.)

9 List your sources alphabetically (by author).

10 Underline or italicize book titles.

11 Use the block quote format: the whole quote is indented and you don’t use quotation marks.

12 You MUST give the page number when quoting – Ex. (Mills 2012:13).

13 List the pages the chapter runs (Pp. XXX-XXX), not just the page/s you used.

IS Incomplete sentence.

Sp Incorrect spelling. Proofread your essays AND do a spell-check.

Fo Formatting: papers must use 1.5 spacing, give the word count, and use the prescribed citation format.

C Citation format: See “Citing Sources” pages in syllabus for how to cite in your paper: p. 13 shows how to cite a source in your paper. P. 14 shows how to list all of the cited sources in your Works Cited page/section.

Q Quoting? If using more than 3 of the author’s words in a row, you must enclose those words in quotation marks (“”) and cite the author and page number of the quote.

¶ Start a new paragraph. Every time your discussion shifts, begin a new paragraph.

Elab. Elaborate
Other remarks:
affect/effect: use “affect” as a verb (Ex. “This event affected Ms. X by…”) and “effect” as a noun (Ex. “One effect of the event was …”).
Citing Sources

The papers written for this course must draw on and appropriately cite sociological sources, including readings from the course and/or outside sources. The idea behind all citation formats is simple: you want your readers to be able to see, and then find on their own, the sources you used to write your paper. So, at the end of your paper (in your “Works Cited” page), you will list all of the sources that you use directly. Then, within the text or body of the paper, you will refer to those sources (by the name of the author) so that the reader knows where to look (in your Works Cited page) for the full citation, that is, for the complete information about the source.

I require that you use the American Sociological Association’s format for 1) in-text citations, and 2) a Works Cited page. Here is a quick rundown of the format for both.
1. In-text citation format:

Whenever using a source’s ideas, you must cite the source. This is typically done by including the last name of the author/s and the year of the publication either within the sentence (such as example A) OR at the end of the sentence (such as example B). When quoting an author, the page number must also appear (if a page number is available; HTML documents, for instance, don’t have page numbers).

Examples using the author name/s in the sentence:

Rampage (Newman et al. 2005) explores the roots of school shootings.

Katherine Newman and her colleagues (2005:229) “propose five necessary but not sufficient conditions for rampage school shootings.”

As sociologist C. Wright Mills (2012:15) observed, “the sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals.”

In these examples, note that the citation information follows the author name.

Examples of parenthetical references at the end of quotes (where author name is not used in the sentence):

“The new global middle classes clearly have access to more opportunities” (Sernau 2012:81).

“When social marginalization and psychological vulnerability are added to a mix that includes weapons and scripts of violent masculinity, the result can be horrific” (Newman et al. 2005:154).

(Use “et al.” to indicate that there are three or more authors. You do this in citing sources in the body of your paper but in your Works Cited page, you will list all authors.)

When citing sources from an edited book (that is, a book in which chapters are written by different authors), cite the author of the chapter.

Quotes longer than two lines should be indented and single-spaced (i.e., use the block format). Quotation marks are not used. Be sure to cite the author at the end of the quote, as you would above.

For more information on in-text citations using the ASA style, consult Purdue’s Online Writing Lab:

2. Works Cited page:

Here’s a rundown of the format for the most commonly used types of sources. Purdue’s Online Writing Lab can provide more info on formatting your references: Note that you may use italics or underline for book/magazine/journal titles. However, all chapter and article titles should be encapsulated by quotation marks. Sources should be listed in alphabetical order by authors’ last name.


1. Books with one author:

Sernau, Scott. 2012. Global Problems: The Search for Equity, Peace and Sustainability, 3rd edition. Boston: Pearson.

2. Books with more than one author:

Newman, Katherine, Cybelle Fox, David Harding, Jal Mehta and Wendy Roth. 2005. Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings. NY: Basic Books.

3. Chapter in an edited book:

Mills, C. Wright. 2012. “Personal Experiences and Public Issues.” Pp. 13-18 in Readings for Sociology, edited by G. Massey. NY: W.W. Norton.

4. Journal article:

Inada, Kenneth. 1995. “A Buddhist Response to the Nature of Human Rights.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 2(9):251-263.

Furstenberg, Frank, Sheela Kennedy, Vonnie McLoyd, Ruben G. Rumbaut, and Richard Settersten. 2004. “Growing Up is Harder to Do.” Contexts 3(3):33-41.

(In the second example, Contexts is the journal name. In 3(3):33-41, the first 3 is the volume, the second 3 is the number, and 33-41 is the article’s pages. This information is usually found on the article’s first page.)

5. Article in a monthly magazine or newspaper:

Theiss, Philip. 1994. “The Book Thief.” Harper’s, January, pp. 37-56.

Schmid, John. 2004. “Hit by a Global Train.” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 4. <>

USA Today. 1991. “Blacks Face One in Ten Thousand Chance of Making it in Pros.” September 17, pp. A7. (This example shows how to cite when an author is not given.)

6. Citing a website: to cite a website, include the following information (if the author of the page is not given, then the organization should be listed as the author):

International Labor Organization. 2013. “Child Labour and Education.” Accessed 01/25/2013.–en/index.htm

7. Public address:
Rees, William. 2006. “The Human Nature of Consumption: Mything Out on Sustainability.” Lecture at University of Wisconsin – Marathon County Wausau, WI.