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Political Ideology

Fall 2015
• Leave your name and student ID# OFF your paper. Blackboard will tell your
instructors which work belongs to whom.
• Post your paper on Blackboard, Assignments tab. Click on “Ideology Paper” and
follow the prompts to upload your paper electronically.
• Note! You will not be able to earn any peer review points if you do not submit your
own draft on time.
• Anyone who submits a draft online will be assigned two other papers to review on
Blackboard, giving feedback that should help everyone make effective revisions.
• To review your two papers, go to Blackboard, Assignments tab. Click on “Peer
Review of Ideology Paper Drafts” and follow the directions for reviewing the two
papers posted there.
• Please leave yourself adequate time to read each paper carefully and respond to 13
questions about each one. Use the golden rule of peer review: give your peers the kind
of helpful comments that you would find useful for revision.
• You should be able to access your own feedback by the end of the day on Oct 28th.
Please pay close attention to problems that get raised and revise your paper
accordingly. The peer review process is intended to raise your paper grade!
3. Submit your final draft online by noon on Saturday Oct (20%)
• Post your final paper (again, leave off your name) on Blackboard, Assignments tab.
Click on the “Ideology Paper: Revision 1” link and follow the prompts to upload your
revised and final draft for grading.
4. Once papers are graded (by 2-3 weeks later), find your grade and feedback online. You’ll
find edits on the electronic document and scoring on a rubric that will show you where you
gained and lost points. The best way to see instructor feedback is to go back to the link
under Assignments where you uploaded the paper, click, and hit “View.”
RESOURCES: Please use discussion section to work on your ideas and analysis. You may also
meet individually with me or with your TA. You can find writing support at the SDSU Writing
Center (Love Library 1103, by the circulation desk),
Your assignment will be to engage the course materials on political ideologies. Please write a 3-
page, double-spaced essay that answers the following questions:
1. Which ideology that we have discussed do you think holds the most promise as a
way to organize society? What aspects about it do you think are its particular
strengths, and why? (Paper introduction)
2. What critiques would proponents of other ideologies likely raise, and how would
you answer them? (Body of the paper)
• Consider starting your introduction with a clear first-line thesis statement like: “I think
_____ sets out the best way to organize society” (fill in the blank: conservatism,
communitarianism, liberalism, marxism, anarchism). Please don’t start with empty or vague
statements that are not strictly necessary to what you have to say.
• Your introductory paragraph should also offer the key reasons you are adopting this
position. Your reasons should not be purely personal (e.g. “My father was in the military,
so I’ve always believed x, y, and z”). Instead, you should ground your analysis on what
would be best for society.
• Finally, your introduction will need a “road map” statement that lets the reader know what
to expect about your arguments in relation to other ideological schools of thought (in answer
to the second question above).
• You are advised to organize the main body of your paper into three paragraphs that engage
the THREE other ideologies that would be most likely to disagree with or critique the points
you are making. A strong analysis always addresses counter-arguments. You will need to
figure out what the biggest critiques would be from other ideological perspectives, and then
figure out how (and whether!) you can answer those critiques. Give concrete examples or
illustrations whenever possible.
• As you address counter-arguments, you will also have more opportunities to develop and
support the positions you mentioned in the introduction. Instead of just repeating the same
claims about what would be best for society, try to demonstrate why a reasonable person
should come to the same conclusion as you have.
• As you discuss the potential critiques of other ideologies, avoid statements that exaggerate
or insult (“Marxists are freedom-haters” or “conservatives are all dumb”). Your reader will
wonder, where is the evidence for this claim? Is this a fair, informed statement? A good
paper will demonstrate comprehension not just of the ideas you like, but also those you do
not personally endorse. For this reason, your grade will reflect how well you understand all
four ideologies you engage, and not just the one you like best.
• You should end your paper with a very short paragraph that concludes your argument.
• Give your paper a creative title that previews your position and argument.
Q. What if there is no one ideology that I can stand behind entirely?
The important thing will be to adopt a position that you really believe. If you discover that
your favorite ideology has some key flaws, you might want to make a more nuanced thesis
claim, like: “Despite some key weaknesses, I find ______ most promising for society. If
you find aspects of multiple ideologies promising, you might adopt a thesis like: “While
each ideology has some downsides, I find aspects of ______ and _______ most promising
for society” (fill in the blanks). In this case, it would be wise to explain not only why
certain aspects of these ideologies appeal to you, but also what you see as their failings.
Q. What if I have no response to the kinds of critiques that other ideologies might make of my
positions? Should I assert a strong position no matter what?
If you don’t know how to answer the kinds of critiques you might get from proponents of
other ideologies, then you might need to moderate or change your argument. You are being
asked to come to a reasoned position that reflects some real analysis. If considering
possible critiques modifies your position, then so be it. Just make sure that you make the
whole paper consistent instead of switching arguments halfway through.
Q. Do I need to address all ideologies equally in my paper?
Before starting to write, start with a lot of brainstorming and analysis. As part of that
process, you should certainly think through how someone from ALL FOUR of the other
schools of thought would likely respond to your position and claims. What would they most
likely disagree with, and why? Once you have worked through each ideology’s likely
response, think about which three ideologies have the least in common with yours, and
which of the potential critiques are toughest. Those are the ones you will want to engage.
A good analysis will not just seek out something easy to knock down.
Of course, your paper will not have space for you to include every point that came up in
your brainstorm, and it does not need to give equal time to each of the three ideologies you
decide to address. Focus on the toughest and most obvious critiques. You will not get full
credit if you choose to simply leave out the ideology that would most strongly disagree
with your main points.
Q. May I incorporate outside sources?
No. This assignment should be done solely with the course materials and your brain. There
should be no need to do any additional research or to use any additional sources. However,
if you decide to ignore these instructions and you do end up borrowing someone’s ideas or
phrasing, then of course, you should cite the source in the paper rather than plagiarizing!
Q. Should I try to quote a lot of things from the course readings or lecture?
You should definitely USE course readings and lecture notes to inform your paper,
identifying the source of information when you do. However, your paper should be in your
own words, reflecting the way that you understand things rather than borrowing other
people’s phrasing. If there is some quote that you really want to discuss, then quote it and
refer to it as you discuss. Otherwise, the words should all be yours.
Q. When I use ideas from a text or lecture notes, how should I cite them?
When you draw from ideas that you read or saw in class materials, go ahead and paraphrase
them in your own words, and then afterwards put the name of the source in parentheses,
plus a page number, if there is one.
Example #1: Anarchism is all about decentralizing power, because no one is totally
trustworthy to hold ultimate control (Goodman p. 19).
Example #2: Tolerance for minorities is one of the key liberal values (Liberalism
You could also mention where you got the info as part of the sentence and then skip the
Example: Barash said that liberals have divided into two camps.
Q. Will my grade reflect whether the TA agrees with my opinions?
Nope. It won’t matter what particular positions you take. The grade will be based on how
you present and support your position. The main goal for this assignment will be to have
you analyze and evaluate the ideologies we have discussed in class. As such, your grade
will reflect the extent to which you demonstrate your understanding of the ideologies and
support your analysis with appropriate evidence. Of course, your originality and writing
will also matter.
• Knowledge (35%): Demonstrates a depth of knowledge of course materials and a
nuanced understanding of the differences between ideologies
• Analysis (35%): Takes a clear and consistent position throughout the paper;
Effectively supports the student’s stated position with analysis and examples; Engages
opposing ideas
• Originality (20%): Demonstrates original thought, Expresses ideas in the student’s
own words; Appropriately cites sources of ideas
• Writing (10%): Effective and clear introduction; Uses effective written structure;
Follows rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling
The rubric on the following page provides more detail about the expectations.


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