Second Paper and Instructions to Complete Final Project

PS/LJST 74: Norms, Rights, and Social Justice

Second Paper Assignment


            As I have explained previously, the first two papers in the course should serve as the “building blocks” for your final seminar paper.


You should have received your first paper back with my comments. Now, I would like you to begin the second paper by composing a “paper topic” due by Wednesday October 31  (submitted as an e-mail attachment).  This paper topic can directly follow from your first paper or the first paper may serve as background knowledge for your project. This topic should help you set up the parameters for your final paper, including:


1)             Specify an issue or area of study; either defined specifically (e.g., legal rights of the blind; interracial gang rape trials, school desegregation) or broadly (e.g., a comparison of rights-based strategies across multiple identities—race, sex, disability, etc.). Hopefully, (but not necessarily) these ideas will flow from issues explored in your first paper.


2)             Identify a “researchable question” (i.e., a question that can be answered by bringing in new information, in any form, including data, analysis, alternative viewpoints of authors, etc.).


3)             Formulate a hypothesis, and then posit a plausible interpretation or conclusion the paper might offer.


4)             Provide a preliminary bibliography


All four questions above must be answered in an essay format of at least one page.


After you have received comments (and a go ahead) on your paper topic, I would like you to prepare an outline for the second paper. At this point you need to ask yourself, what information will I need? Which course readings will I include and how much outside research will be necessary? Please submit this outline and a revised bibliography to me via e-mail.


Then, please complete an (approximately) 10-15 page essay that addresses your paper topic.


Due:  November 29 by 4 P.M. (also submitted as a file attachment and a hard copy in my mailbox).



First Paper Topic

Rights, Norms and Social Justice First Paper Topic The first paper topic is designed to serve two purposes: first, to ask you to perform a more in-depth analysis of the assigned readings and second, to enable you to provide a foundation for the final twenty-page paper. In terms of the first objective, the paper should carefully develop an argument or position that responds to or reflects upon one or more of the readings. The readings should be referred to liberally and specifically (using both quotes and paraphrases). References should be made to alternative points of view or evidence found in the readings. The final paper should ultimately focus on a major topic covered by the course (civil rights and civil liberties, school desegregation, gender discrimination, same-sex marriage, animal rights, sexual harassment, disability rights, rape, domestic violence, and prisoners’ rights, and immigrant rights) or a variant of one of these topics. Your final paper will focus on a carefully defined question about one of these topics. Depending on your topic, this may require you to do additional research in the final phrases of the project. At this stage, however, please focus on the readings in the syllabus. Please write in response to one of these questions: (1) When are rights powerful and effective means for preserving individual dignity, strengthening identity, protecting self-interests, or promoting social change? When do rights fail to empower? Describe how rights become fundamental to how individuals and groups frame their political interests. (2) How does the legacy of race and gender anti-discrimination provide insight to how rights-based advocacy could be well utilized in contemporary society? How do these legacies enable or inhibit the use of rights in the future? (3) How are rights exercised in everyday life? What insights do we gain from contrasting the symbolic significance of rights from people’s everyday practice and engagement with rights? Are you optimistic about rights as a means to promote a strong democratic culture? These questions are designed to help you start formulating a “perspective” for your final paper. If you already have chosen the topic area for your final paper, you may want to draw connections to one of these questions. Suggested length: 5-6 pages Due: October 12 (please submit your paper via e-mail to by 5:00 PM.)