Analyze how laws are applied or created based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and social class

Write a 5–7-page essay comparing the approaches of two U.S. states to either same-sex marriage or immigration policy.

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:

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  • Competency 1: Describe theoretical ideas of power in relation to policy.
    • Discuss how sociological theories of power might explain differences in how state governments address a social issue.
  • Competency 3: Analyze the effects of social policy using aggregated data.
    • Explain how the demographics of state populations might influence the policy decisions of state governments.
  • Competency 4: Analyze how laws are applied or created based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and social class.
    • Compare law, policy, or politics in states with varying approaches to a diversity issue.
  • Competency 5: Apply diversity strategies in professional, educational, and personal contexts.
    • Analyze discrepancies between state and federal law and the strategies used to resolve such discrepancies.
  • Competency 6: Apply in text the standard writing conventions for the discipline, including structure, voice, person, tone, and citation formatting.
    • Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format and with few errors of grammar, usage, and mechanics.

How can sociological research help us understand how laws and policies are made and how they change over time? How might we use the sociological perspective to develop more effective solutions to political and social issues or create policies that are effective and based on sound research? These are questions to consider as you explore the connection between political and economic power and legislative decision making.

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Sociologists studying cultural diversity are also very much interested in how our beliefs about diversity are reflected in the law-making and policy-making process, including laws and policies that pertain to immigration and same-sex marriage. Something to think about is whether the policies and positions maintained by those in power actually reflect the research and data on the topic or issue they address. In other words, does the rhetoric match the evidence gathered through careful research?

As you prepare to complete this assessment, you may want to think about other related issues to deepen your understanding or broaden your viewpoint. You are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of your professional community. Note that these questions are for your own development and exploration and do not need to be completed or submitted as part of your assessment.

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  • Which sociological theory of power best explains the political decision-making process in today’s society?
  • How does cultural diversity influence policy making? For example, how do state policies pertaining to social issues like immigration and same-sex marriage differ depending on the cultural diversity and demographic and socioeconomic composition of that state?
  • Why is the sociological approach to cultural diversity useful for understanding how policy decisions are made and how political debates over social issues are articulated by key stakeholders?

Building on your research and analysis of a diversity issue in relation to policy developments, this assessment asks you to more closely examine the connection between power, policy, and law making by comparing and contrasting how two states of your choosing have handled one of the following policy issues: same-sex marriage or immigration.

To understand the link between power and political and legal decision making, you will place this process in each state in the appropriate context. That means that you need to assess the historical, demographic, cultural, and socioeconomic factors that have influenced each state’s different approach to immigration policy or same-sex marriage. You will also reflect on the consequences of state-to-state discrepancies in policies and laws regarding controversial social and political issues like these.

This assessment combines the key components of studying cultural diversity from a sociological perspective: placing current social issues in historical context, understanding how demographic and cultural trends influence public opinion, and applying sociological theories to determine the role of power in shaping policy-making decisions.

Deliverable

Write an essay addressing each of the following parts:

  • Compare how your two states have approached policy, politics, or law surrounding immigration or same-sex marriage:
    • Policy (principles or methods used to achieve a particular goal or make decisions about political or social issues).
    • Politics (the key political players in the policy-making and law-making processes).
    • Law (rules and standards enforced by a particular institution).
  • Discuss how sociological theories of power might explain the differences between how each state has addressed your issue.
    • Examples of theories of power include power elite theory, the four networks theory of power, pluralism, Marxist theory, and state autonomy theory.
  • Discuss how the demographics of each state’s population might influence how each state’s government has approached your topic.
    • Demographics include age, race/ethnicity, gender, education levels, religious beliefs, political beliefs, and the percentage of the population in urban versus rural areas.
  • Analyze discrepancies between state and federal law and whether and how these discrepancies have been resolved or should be resolved.
    • Consider any historical precedents that provide insight about how to resolve these kinds of discrepancies.

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