Taking a Closer Look at Community: Our last few weeks of readings are focused on different ways of imagining community ties in our increasingly globalized world. These are communities that have global dimensions the readings in our final unit want us to take a closer look at: gender, social networks, political activists, university students, global supply chains. The assignment here is to choose one of the types of community we have looked at: Gender (Lorber, Devor, Blum, Tannen); Social Networks (Gladwell, Friedman); Political Activists (Gladwell, Friedman); University Students (Nathan); Global Supply Chains (Friedman). Choose 2 different articles from this list in order to explore the argument the article makes about how to understand the kind of community it is concerned with.

For each article, you are to write a 2-page summary, focused on the argument the article makes for how we should understand the community it is looking at–and what ties it together. The summary should offer clear explanation of the community the article is looking at. It should also lay out a thorough analysis of the argument, take a look at some of the examples your source uses to better understand the limitations of the argument, and offer a summation of the evidence s/he uses to make his case about how to understand the community it is concerned with (mostly in the form of expert authorities). In other words, this is a summary of a specific community and its real-world complications, in order to best understand the author’s argument regarding the community in all of its complexity and complications. So actually much of your attention should be devoted to looking at where the argument or the concerns it speaks to are more complicated than it might at first seem.

The Elements of Summary: As you sit down to summarize your chosen community concept, you want to keep in mind that the main task is to prioritize what you feel to be the most important aspects for understanding the concept. That is the critical thinking aspect of the assignment; it involves making choices about what to include and why. That means you want to examine closely your author’s priorities in setting up the key concern, looking at what s/he starts with, where s/he takes the discussion, and where s/he ends it. Certainly, the end of his/her discussion (the concluding remarks) will show us most clearly what s/he wants us to prioritize in engaging with the key concern. But tracking his/her discussion along the way can tell us more about why s/he goes that way and looking back at the introduction can help clarify what he thinks we should initially keep in mind as he sorts through his argument. What this also means is that you want to give some attention to when the author goes in surprising directions or shows us where his concerns or related terms don’t work in expected ways.

Definition: we have given a good deal of attention to the process of defining key terms through paraphrasing and quotation from the text. It is also important to consider the different ways the key term gets discussed over the course of the article(s) and potential points of misunderstanding, complexity, or contradiction. You want to give some attention to when the author goes in surprising directions or shows us where his concerns or related terms don’t work in expected ways.

Examples: These help us think about the community in context, as a way to extend ways to define or redefine our understanding of the community through an analysis of real-world examples. Also, an example can show us the limitations of a term’s real-world application: where and how typical understandings of the community work, where and how they don’t work.

Evidence: The use of evidence for this essay is primarily about his use of other sources and their authoritative comments as pieces of evidence (of course, you want to make sure to speak to how your author(s) feels about the evidence–just because s/he discusses it in the article doesn’t mean that he agrees with it). Here, you want to make sure to keep track of the various authorities/sources he uses and his attitude about each of them as he references them. Do not confuse their voices with his; but do take note of how and why he uses them and how they back up his argument. In other words, you are looking at the claims he is making based off of this evidence (based off of these authoritative sources, mostly).

Structure for the essay: A good summary also draws connections from one element to another. In other words, definition, examples, and evidence are the three elements I want you to prioritize in your summary, but they are most effective if you think of them as interconnected and present some of those connections to the reader as you develop.

Grading Rubric: your essay will be scored according to the following five grading elements. Each element will be graded out of a possible 20: Definitions, Examples, Comprehension, Clarity, Organization.

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