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Sociology as an Applied Discipline Discussion

SOC 600 UMASS Sociology Should be an Applied Discipline Discussion

Application at issue across the discipline

On the Compatibility of Applied and Basic Sociological Research: An Effort in Marriage Counseling

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Berk, Richard. 1981. “On the Compatibility of Applied and Basic Sociological Research: An Effort in Marriage Counseling.” The American Sociologist 16:204-211.

What did both sides of the debate add to your understanding of the challenges confronting applied sociology? Which articles and arguments did you find most persuasive? Why?

The primary focus of the debates is to apply ideas in the readings to the proposition to be debated: Sociology should be an applied discipline.

Prepare for the debate by meeting with the other debate participants and choosing a side to argue (oppose) as your particular focus. Conduct a preliminary discussion of points that your team might make—and of opposing points that you may have to refute. Review the reading(s) and jot down key points. Then outline a contribution to your team’s argument that builds on the reading(s). Make sure that both sides are developed, all appropriate readings are covered, and a logical presentation plan is developed.


Plan your debate so that both sides argue for opposing positions. In addition, make sure that both sides begin with opening statements that state their position and the types of evidence they have used. After the opening, the sides must, in turn, present their own arguments and then rebut the other team’s arguments (with planned criticism). Both sides should present a closing statement.

Your primary task in the debate is to review the relevant required and supplementary readings in a way that relates the readings to the question posed in the debate. You can also bring in some case study material, such as articles or reports from newspapers or other media or, if highly relevant, from the experiences of team members.

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