Sociology 204 Writing Assignment Option 6: Disaster!

In Unit One we talked about how disasters and accidents often need to be viewed in a broader perspective to understand the causes of the disaster and its effects. In this essay you are going to identify a specific disaster or accident (either one that has happened or one that may happen; please do not use one of the examples we covered in class or section) and write an essay exploring and explaining how cause and effect are connected to a social system and how analyzing that system allows us to better understand what happened (or what might happen). You should feel free to think about a wide range of possible cases to use in developing this essay. It could be something very large and systemic (like the impacts of a tsunami on thousands or millions of people) or something much more localized (the effect of a landslide on the residents of a remote valley). Since it is a disaster or an accident, though, it should be an event that nobody intends to happen but that happens anyway. Also, better essays usually have more specific material to work with, so writing about air pollution might fit the topic but it is so huge that it will be difficult to do the kind of specific analysis you need to in such a short paper.

If you were to write about particulate emissions from ships using the port of Long Beach and their impacts on the health of nearby neighborhoods and workers you can be more detailed in your answer. Some questions you may want to consider (you don’t need to cover all of these, they are just some ideas to get you thinking about the issues) include what social factors, dynamics, processes, etc. have to do with the circumstances leading up to the accident/disaster, and what they have to do with its effects. Why does it happen? Why does it/will it have the effects that it has? Who is impacted by it and why? Why are some people affected by it differently than others? And other questions along those lines. 

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