How to Write a Sociological Essay: Explained with Examples

This article will discuss “How to Write a Sociological Essay” with insider pro tips and give you a map that is tried and tested. An essay writing is done in three phases: a) preparing for the essay, b) writing the essay, and c) editing the essay. We will take it step-by-step so that nothing is left behind because the devil, as well as good grades and presentation, lies in the details.

Sociology essay writing examples

Writing is a skill that we learn throughout the courses of our lives. Learning how to write is a process that we begin as soon as we turn 4, and the learning process never stops. But the question is, “is all writing the same?”. The answer is NO. Do you remember your initial lessons of English when you were in school, and how the teacher taught various formats of writing such as formal, informal, essay, letter, and much more? Therefore, writing is never that simple. Different occasions demand different styles and commands over the writing style. Thus, the art of writing improves with time and experience. 

Those who belong to the world of academia know that writing is something that they cannot escape. No writing is the same when it comes to different disciplines of academia. Similarly, the discipline of sociology demands a particular style of formal academic writing. If you’re a new student of sociology, it can be an overwhelming subject, and writing assignments don’t make the course easier. Having some tips handy can surely help you write and articulate your thoughts better. 

[Let us take a running example throughout the article so that every point becomes crystal clear. Let us assume that the topic we have with us is to “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”.]

Phase I: Preparing for the Essay  

Step 1: Make an Outline

So you have to write a sociological essay, which means that you already either received or have a topic in mind. The first thing for you to do is PLAN how you will attempt to write this essay. To plan, the best way is to make an outline. The topic you have, certainly string some thread in your mind. They can be instances you heard or read, some assumptions you hold, something you studied in the past, or based on your own experience, etc. Make a rough outline where you note down all the themes you would like to talk about in your essay. The easiest way to make an outline is to make bullet points. List all the thoughts and examples that you have in find and create a flow for your essay. Remember that this is only a rough outline so you can always make changes and reshuffle your points. 

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”. Your outline will look something like this:

  • Importance of food
  • Definition of Diaspora 
  • Relationship between food and culture
  • Relationship between food and nation
  • Relationship between food and media 
  • Relationship between food and nostalgia 
  • How food travels with people 
  • Is food practices different for different sections of society, such as caste, class, gender ]

Step 2: Start Reading 

Once you have prepared an outline for your essay, the next step is to start your RESEARCH. You cannot write a sociological essay out of thin air. The essay needs to be thoroughly researched and based on facts. Sociology is the subject of social science that is based on facts and evidence. Therefore, start reading as soon as you have your outline determined. The more you read, the more factual data you will collect. But the question which now emerges is “what to read”. You cannot do a basic Google search to write an academic essay. Your research has to be narrow and concept-based. For writing a sociological essay, make sure that the sources from where you read are academically acclaimed and accepted.  

Some of the websites that you can use for academic research are: 

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”

For best search, search for your articles by typing “Food+Diaspora”, “Food+Nostalgia”, adding a plus sign (+) improves the search result.]

Step 3: Make Notes 

This is a step that a lot of people miss when they are preparing to write their essays. It is important to read, but how you read is also a very vital part. When you are reading from multiple sources then all that you read becomes a big jumble of information in your mind. It is not possible to remember who said what at all times. Therefore, what you need to do while reading is to maintain an ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Whenever you’re reading for writing an academic essay then have a notebook handy, or if you prefer electronic notes then prepare a Word Document, Google Docs, Notes, or any tool of your choice to make notes. 

As you begin reading, note down the title of the article, its author, and the year of publication. As you read, keep writing down all the significant points that you find. You can either copy whole sentences or make shorthand notes, whatever suits you best. Once you’ve read the article and made your notes, write a summary of what you just read in 8 to 10 lines. Also, write keywords, these are the words that are most used in the article and reflect its essence. Having keywords and a summary makes it easier for you to revisit the article. A sociological essay needs a good amount of research, which means that you have to read plenty, thus maintaining an annotated bibliography helps you in the greater picture.  

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”

Annotate and divide your notes based on the outline you made. Having organized notes will help you directly apply the concepts where they are needed rather than you going and searching for them again.] 

Phase II: Write a Sociological Essay

A basic essay includes a title, an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. A sociological essay is not that different as far as the body of contents goes, but it does include some additional categories. When you write a sociological essay, it should have the following contents and chronology: 

  1. Title 
  2. Subtitle (optional)
  3. Abstract 
  4. Keywords 
  5. Introduction
  6. Main body
  7. Conclusion 
  8. References/ Bibliography 

Now let us get into the details which go into the writing of a sociological essay.  

Step 4: Writing a Title, Subtitle, Abstract, and Keywords 

Title 

The title of any document is the first thing that a reader comes across. Therefore, the title should be provocative, specific, and the most well-thought part of any essay. Your title should reflect what your essay will discuss further. There has to be a sync between the title and the rest of your content. The title should be the biggest font size you use in your essay. 

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: A title preferably should not exceed 5 to 7 words.  

Subtitle 

This is an optional component of any essay. If you think that your title cannot justify the rest of the contents of your essay, then you opt for a subtitle. The subtitle is the secondary part of the title which is used to further elucidate the title. A subtitle should be smaller in font than the Title but bigger than the rest of the essay body.  

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: Make the font color of your subtitle Gray instead of Black for it to stand out. 

Abstract 

The abstract is a 6 to 10 line description of what you will talk about in your essay. An abstract is a very substantial component of a sociological essay. Most of the essays written in academia exceed the word limit of 2000 words. Therefore, a writer, i.e., you, provides the reader with a short abstract at the beginning of your essay so that they can know what you are going to discuss. From the point of view of the reader, a good abstract can save time and help determine if the piece is worth reading or not. Thus, make sure to make your abstract as reflective to your essay as possible using the least amount of words.  

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: If you are not sure about your abstract at first, it is always great to write the abstract in the end after you are done with your essay. 

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”

Your abstract should highlight all the points that you will further discuss. Therefore your abstract should mention how diasporic communities are formed and how they are not homogeneous communities. There are differences within this large population. In your essay, you will talk in detail about all the various aspects that affect food and diasporic relationships. ]

Keywords 

Keywords are an extension of your abstract. Whereas in your abstract you will use a paragraph to tell the reader what to expect ahead, by stating keywords, you point out the essence of your essay by using only individual words. These words are mostly concepts of social sciences. At first, glance, looking at your keywords, the reader should get informed about all the concepts and themes you will explain in detail later. 

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: Bold your Keywords so that they get highlighted.

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”

Your keywords could be: Food, Diaspora, Migration, and so on. Build on these as you continue to write your essay.]   

sociology essay format

Step 5: Writing the Introduction, Main Body, and Conclusion 

Introduction 

Your introduction should talk about the subject on which you are writing at the broadest level. In an introduction, you make your readers aware of what you are going to argue later in the essay. An introduction can discuss a little about the history of the topic, how it was understood till now, and a framework of what you are going to talk about ahead. You can think of your introduction as an extended form of the abstract. Since it is the first portion of your essay, it should paint a picture where the readers know exactly what’s ahead of them. 

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: An apt introduction can be covered in 2 to 3 paragraphs (Look at the introduction on this article if you need proof). 

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”

Since your focus is on “food” and “diaspora”, your introductory paragraph can dwell into a little history of the relationship between the two and the importance of food in community building.] 

Main Body 

This is the most extensive part of any essay. It is also the one that takes up the most number of words. All the research and note-making which you did was for this part. The main body of your essay is where you put all the knowledge you gathered into words. When you are writing the body, your aim should be to make it flow, which means that all paragraphs should have a connection between them. When read in its entirety, the paragraphs should sing together rather than float all around. 

The main body is mostly around 4 to 6 paragraphs long. A sociological essay is filled with debates, theories, theorists, and examples. When writing the main body it is best to target making one or two paragraphs about the same revolving theme. When you shift to the other theme, it is best to connect it with the theme you discussed in the paragraph right above it to form a connection between the two. If you are dividing your essay into various sub-themes then the best way to correlate them is starting each new subtheme by reflecting on the last main arguments presented in the theme before it. To make a sociological essay even more enriching, include examples that exemplify the theoretical concepts better. 

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: Though there is no word limit to the length of the paragraphs, if you keep one paragraph between 100 to 200 words, it makes the essay look more organized. 

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”

The main body can here be divided into the categories which you formed during the first step of making the rough outline. Therefore, your essay could have 3 to 4 sub-sections discussing different themes such as: Food and Media, Caste and Class influence food practices, Politics of Food, Gendered Lens, etc.] 

Conclusion 

This is the section where you end your essay. But ending the essay does not mean that you lose your flair in conclusion. A conclusion is an essential part of any essay because it sums up everything you just wrote. Your conclusion should be similar to a summary of your essay. You can include shortened versions of the various arguments you have referred to above in the main body, or it can raise questions for further research, and it can also provide solutions if your topic seeks one. Hence, a conclusion is a part where you get the last chance to tell your reader what you are saying through your article. 

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: As the introduction, the conclusion is smaller compared to the main body. Keep your conclusion within the range of 1 to 2 paragraphs. 

[Explanation through example, assumed topic: “Explore Culinary Discourse among the Indian Diasporic Communities”

Your conclusion should again reiterate all the main arguments provided by you throughout the essay. Therefore it should bind together everything you have written starting from your introduction to all the debates and examples you have cited.]

Step 6: Citation and Referencing 

This is the most academic part of your sociological essay. Any academic essay should be free of plagiarism. But how can one avoid plagiarism when their essay is based on research which was originally done by others. The solution for this is to give credit to the original author for their work. In the world of academia, this is done through the processes of Citation and Referencing (sometimes also called Bibliography). Citation is done within/in-between the text, where you directly or indirectly quote the original text. Whereas, Referencing or Bibliography is done at the end of an essay where you give resources of the books or articles which you have quoted in your essay at various points. Both these processes are done so that the reader can search beyond your essay to get a better grasp of the topic. 

There are many different styles of citations and you can determine which you want to follow. Some of the most common styles of citation and referencing are MLA, APA, and Chicago style. If you are working on Google Docs or Word then the application makes your work easier because they help you curate your citations. 

How to add citations in Google Doc: Tools → Citation

How to add citations in Word Document: References → Insert Citations 

But for those who want to cite manually, this is the basic format to follow:

  1. Author’s Name with Surname mentioned first, then initials 
  2. Article’s Title in single or double quotes
  3. Journal Title in Italics 
  4. Volume, issue number 
  5. Year of Publication
  6. Pages 

Example: Syrkin, A. 1984. “Notes on the Buddha’s Threats in the Dīgha Nikāya”, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol. 7(1), pp.147-58.

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: Always make sure that your Bibliography/References are alphabetically ordered based on the first alphabet of the surname of the author and NOT numbered or bulleted. 

Phase III: Editing 

Step 7: Edit/Review your Essay

The truth of academic writing is that it can never be written in one go. You need to write, rewrite, and revisit your material more than once. Once you have written the first draft of your essay, do not revise it immediately. Leave it for some time, at least for four hours. Then revisit your essay and edit it based on 3 criteria. The first criteria you need to recheck for is any grammatical and/or spelling mistakes. The second criteria are to check the arguments you have posed and if the examples you have cited correlate or not. The final criteria are to read the essay as a reader and read it objectively. 

Pro Tip by Sociology Group: The more you edit the better results you get. But we think that your 3rd draft is the magic draft. Draft 1: rough essay, Draft 2: edited essay, Draft 3: final essay.

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