Introduction

These essays in Sociology and Politics (and course notes) could come in handy for those doing Part II SPS at Cambridge in particular, but should make interesting reading for others.

The rating refers to how good I think the essay is (+++=best, +=worst).

PLAGIARISM: I have recently been contacted by a university lecturer informing me about a case against one of his students who was accused of plagiarism (presenting the work of someone else as their own without attribution), because they had copied essays from my website. Plagiarism is a form of academic fraud, and universities take it very seriously indeed. Please, for your own sake, don't copy these essays. They are intended to give you some ideas and suggest some further reading; by copying them you betray the trust I've placed in you as a user of this website.

DISCLAIMER: The Cambridge essay is effectively exam practice, rather than a journalistic article or a genuine academic viewpoint. As such, I don't necessarily agree with everything I've written below...
 

Contents

1. History and Theories of the Social Sciences
Commercial society, Marx, evolution, objectivity, American thinkers...
2. History and Philosophy of Political Thought from 1890
Nietzsche, Weber, Schmitt, obeying the law...
3. The Social Structure of Modern Britain
The post-war consensus, the 70s crisis,Thatcherism, class...
4. Political Economy
Capitalism, finance & industry, states, transition economies, Japan...
5. Politics of North America
President, Congress, interest groups, courts...
6. Sociology and Politics of South Asia
Centre-state relations, Hindu nationalism, Punjab, Pakistan, caste...

 

1. History and Theories of the Social Sciences

Essay title

Rating

What was 'commercial society' seen to promise for politics in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, what to threaten?

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Why did Marx feel that it was necessary to uncover the 'laws of motion' of modern society?

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Why were later 19th century social thinkers attracted to the idea of 'evolution'?

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Did Weber think that the social sciences could be 'objective'?

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What distinguishes the questions that Americans expected a social science to answer in the first half of the twentieth century?

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2. History and Philosophy of Political Thought from 1890

Essay title

Rating

What did Nietzsche think that it was possible to learn from the past?

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What were Weber's fears about socialism?

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How did Schmitt distinguish between liberalism and democracy?

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Do we have an obligation to obey the law?

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3. The Social Structure of Modern Britain

Essay title

Rating

Briefly outline the basis for the consensus politics of the 1950s and 1960s. Why did the consensus break down?

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Is it accurate to describe the 1970s as a decade of crisis? If so, what were the causes?

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Did the Thatcher governments change Britain?

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Is class 'dead' in modern Britain?

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4. Political Economy

Essay title

Rating

Critically discuss any two of the following theories: the flexible specialisation thesis (Piore and Sabel), regulation theory or a variant of New Institutionalism.

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Discuss the relationship between financial and industrial capital in any two European societies and draw out the implications for corporate ownership, control and performance.

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Does the national state still have a role to play in the direction of the economy? Discuss in relation to at least two European countries.

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Has 'transition' in the former state socialist countries been a success? With hindsight, would a transformation of the economy, without a change in the political system, have secured economic prosperity?

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Is it true to say that what were formerly Japan's strengths ultimately became weaknesses?

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5. Politics of North America

Essay title

Rating

Explain why a President can be powerful at one time and weak at another.

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To what extent do the parochial interests of individual members impede the effectiveness of Congress as a whole?

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Does the involvement of interest groups improve US policymaking?

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"Both critics and defenders of the US federal courts tend significantly to overstate their power and independence." Discuss.

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6. Sociology and Politics of South Asia

Essay title

Rating

Why have Congress governments at the centre found it easier
to work with opposition governments in the states?

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'The Congress sowed the seeds; the BJP reaped the harvest.' Is this a credible explanation for the apparent success of Hindu nationalism since 1979?

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How did India's Punjab crisis arise and how has it been resolved?

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Why has Pakistan experienced so much ethnic and sectarian strife since 1947?

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Why has the issue of reservations provoked such bitter conflict in India?

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Course Notes

Areas covered

Size

Data Analysis

81 KB

History and Theory of the Social Sciences,
The History and Philosophy of Political Thought from 1890,
Political Economy

739 KB