SOC 223 Sociology of the Life Course Life Stories Project Final Paper (Week 11)
For this capstone assignment, you have the opportunity to synthesize what you’ve learned about aging across the life course with social research on a rich variety of issues related to adulthood and aging. You will harness this learning and research to explore the life story of one or more older persons with whom you have engaged through a series of interviews, interactions, observations, and other approaches (see additional options below). In your analysis of the life stories you collect or create, you will foreground the life-long impacts of social structures of inequality, and the diverse ways people experience aging because of the impact of inequality, as well as the ways in which public policies and programs influence the aging process and quality of life across the life course.
The overall learning objectives of this course are to:
Use the life course perspective and the bio-psycho-social framework to analyze individual and population aging.
Employ the gerontological imagination to describe how an individual’s life experiences relate to social structures and cultures, specifically through the intersection of age with race, class, gender, sexuality and abilities.
Use social research to analyze the influence of public policies, programs and practices on the aging process and quality of life.
Examine social inequality and systems of power and their impact on individuals, families, communities and societies.
Demonstrate how the life course perspective explains people’s life chances and their quality of life through a Life Stories Project.
The learning objectives of this capstone assignment include:
Use the life course perspective to describe the major life transitions and trajectory of your life stories subject(s).
Employ the gerontological imagination to describe how major demographic and sociocultural characteristics have framed lived experience across the lifespan, specifically addressing the intersection of age with at least two of the following: ethnicity & race, class, gender, sexuality and abilities.
Use social research to analyze how public policies and programs across their life course have influenced aging process and quality of life.
Consider how social inequality and systems of power impact the aging process through at least five major themes of the life course explored in this course.
Reflect on what you have learned about the life course in general and your own life course through this project.
FOCUS AND APPROACH
For your capstone assignment, you will be writing a final report about your Life Stories Project.
You have three options for whose life story(ies) to focus on:
Explore the life course of one or more individuals, preferably 65 years or older. Your subject(s) can be family members, friends, or other persons who are part of your life, now or in the past. You can interview them (safely in-person or remotely) and/or use your experiences and observations of them as the basis for your project.
Create a composite of real and imagined older persons, and use this composite person(s) as the basis for your project.
Center your project on your own lived experiences now and as you imagine them to be in the future as you continue your aging journey.
To prepare your Life Stories Project final report, begin by reviewing, organizing, and reflecting on the various sources of information that will be informing your report: any interviews you conducted or interactions you had with others; your ideas, observations, and reflections that you documented in the Planning Report and Progress Report; text and course materials; and a minimum of 2 outside research-based resources you consulted.
Next develop a profile of your life stories subject(s) — whether real or imagined others, or yourself — that describes major demographic and sociocultural characteristics, specifically addressing the intersection of age with at least two of the following: ethnicity & race, class, gender, sexuality and abilities.
Then, select the five life course topics or themes from Modules 2 through 9 that you feel provide the strongest basis for your project. These topics include: age identity and ageism, significant life transitions, lifestyle and disease impacts on aging bodies, mental health and illness, social supports and relationships, work and retirement, spirituality, social engagement, and passionate pursuits. Develop each topic in rich detail based on your life stories subject(s) and your review of course materials and research.
Your analysis should focus on the impact for your life stories subject(s) of social inequality and systems of power on aging experiences, and diverse responses to that impact. You should also address how public policies and programs across the life span influence aging process and quality of life.
This capstone assignment includes both collective and individual components. In week 3 you will submit a Planning Report, and in week 7 you will submit a Progress Report. You will have opportunities to share your project ideas, research, and insights in the context of the weekly discussion assignments, as well as in the dedicated Life Stories Project discussion forum.
In addition to your interviews and your notes on interactions, observations and reflections about your life stories subject(s), you should draw on course content, material from the text and module notes, and other research-based resources you have discovered throughout the course.
Research-based sources can be in the form of books (or selections from books) or articles and should be scholarly in nature. For example, the articles should come from peer-reviewed academic journals and the books should be written by reputable authors. It is recommended that you use online library databases to find sources. Aim to include a minimum of 2 research-based sources you have discovered, in addition to the readings and other resources included in this course.
Be sure to integrate your take-aways from your sources, as well as in-text citations, in the body of your paper.
Your paper should include the following elements:
An introductory paragraph introducing your life stories subject(s) and the major life course themes your paper will explore.
A rich and detailed profile of your life stories subject(s), including significant intersecting sociocultural characteristics that have shaped their life experiences and the quality of their lives.
A rich and detailed account of your subject(s) life stories organized around the five life-course themes you have chosen as the focus of your project.
Include an analysis of these five themes, drawing upon your interviews, interactions and observations, course content, material from the text and module notes, and other research-based resources you have used throughout the course. Your analysis should address the following:
The ways in which public policies and programs experienced across the life span influence aging process and quality of life, and
The impact of social inequality and systems of power on life chances and well-being.
A concluding paragraph in which you discuss new insights and questions that have emerged for you about the life course through this inquiry process, including changes in how you now view your own life course.
A bibliography in which you properly cite your sources (including course materials) using either APA or MLA documentation format. This link with take you to information for how to correctly your references using either APA or MLA notation
Please use a standard 12-point font, with double-spacing and one-inch margins.
Include the name of this course, the title of your paper, and your name at the top of the first page. Do not have a separate title page.
Include the bibliography at the end of your paper.
Include page numbers throughout.
Save your paper as a Word document or PDF and submit to the Assignment drop-box.
The total page length for your paper should be between 8 and 10 pages.
Exceptional introduction describing the life stories subjects and major life course themes explored
Inquiry is thoughtful and well supported, incorporating interviews and relevant research-based resources in addition to including course readings and lecture materials
Inquiry is thoughtful and adequately supported, interviews and relevant research-based resources, but minimal reference to course readings and lecture materials
Paper lacks adequate thoughtfulness and description of research or is missing relevant research-based resources
Experiences of the life stories subjects are considered in a sociocultural context
Some sociocultural context is included
Social context is unclear or is not included
Thorough analysis of the 5 selected life course topics using applicable concepts and theories
Basic analysis of selected life course topics using some concepts and theories
Minimal analysis of the life course themes, with limited use of concepts and theories
Clear, specific summary of new insights and questions related to the life course
Good, general summary of new insights and questions related to the life course
Paper lacks clear conclusion or is simply a summary of the paper
Writing and Format
Paper is well written, organized, and free of grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting, or citation errors; all required sections of the paper are included
Most ideas are stated clearly, with minimal grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting, or citation errors; all required sections of the paper are included
Unacceptable number of writing and/or citation errors; some required sections of the paper are missing