Popular culture

Report
Be in top form
Key features of essay writing
Learning outcomes
By the end of this session you will be
able to understand:
• the purpose and structure of an essay
• the role of referencing
• that essay writing is a process
What makes an essay an essay?
When you think “essay”, what do you
think?
What’s the purpose of an essay?
What is the expected structure?
The purpose of an essay is to...
• Make an argument
• Imagine you are a lawyer presenting
a case
• Argument: take a position / thesis
statement / answer the question
An argument / thesis statement
For some essays, you can turn the essay question
into a thesis statement.
• Take a position (yes, no, it depends)
• Say why (the “because”)
Example essay question:
Why is human resource planning a good idea for
NZ organisations?
Example thesis statement:
Human resource planning is a good idea for NZ
organisations because…
Come up with thesis statements for
the following:
1. Are cats better than dogs?
Cats are better than dogs because they’re more independent, not as
smelly, and you do not have to take them for walks.
2. Is it possible to eat too much chocolate?
It is not possible to eat to much chocolate because your natural
instincts will guide how much chocolate you need, so therefore how
much chocolate you eat is the right amount.
For more information on thesis statements, see:
http://owll.massey.ac.nz/assignment-types/essay-thesis-statement.php
Understanding the essay question
The question is made of different parts:
– What are you being asked to do? (command words)
• Discuss, analyse, compare/contrast, establish the extent of
something.
– What is the topic?
• The topic is often the big picture view.
– What is the focus (or scope)?
• the focus is the direction you need to take: like a compass
pointing in the right direction or binoculars going into focus
on a particular aspect.
– What will you need to define (or clarify)?
What are you being asked to do?
Common command words
Analyse
Assess
Compare
Discuss
Evaluate
Examine
Review
To break the subject up into its main ideas, and evaluate them
To judge the value of a subject critically.
To show the similarities and differences between two or more
subjects.
To investigate and present the different aspects of a problem or
subject, usually in support of a position or argument.
To appraise or estimate the worth of something, to some extent
an explained personal opinion.
To inquire into, and consider a problem carefully.
To survey and critically examine a subject.
For this list and more, see:
http://owll.massey.ac.nz/academic-writing/command-words.php
Essay question #1
To what extent is there a correlation between the
levels of happiness experienced by cats, and the
dog being made to sleep outside?
What are you
being asked to
do?
Comment on the
extent of the
correlation.
(Is there one?
Is it strong? Are
there any
exceptions?)
What is the topic?
What is the focus?
Happiness in cats.
Whether there is a
correlation between
the happiness in cats
and the dog being
made to sleep outside.
What will you need
to define or clarify?
The concept of happiness
in cats?
What correlation means
(as opposed to causation?)
Cats? All cats? Some
breeds of cats?
Essay question #2
“The Kardashians are the epitome of popular culture”
(Brown, 2011, p.15). Discuss.
What is the topic?
What are you being
asked to do?
What is the focus?
The Kardashians
To discuss: examine
or consider a
subject/topic
Whether the
Kardashians are the
perfect example of
popular culture
Clarify?
Define?
You might need to
clarify who the
Kardashians are
You’ll need to define
popular culture
Essay structure
The introduction and
conclusion mirror each other
The body paragraphs are
where you:
a) Define key concepts
b) Explain your argument/s
(often it’s where you go
through the “because/s”)
Essay structure: the pattern
Broad opening statement
Narrowing topic
Thesis statement
Define core concept
Body paragraphs
- Start with a main or topic sentence
- Followed by evidence and examples
Thesis statement
Summary of key points
Broad statement of significance of
topic
Back to our essay question
“The Kardashians are the epitome of
popular culture” (Brown, 2011, p.15).
Discuss.
Introduction
The first sentence is a broad opening statement that
establishes the context.
Mass media and popular culture have the capacity to shape the
values and norms of society. In contemporary society, the role
of the celebrity is particularly pervasive. The Kardashians are
an American family with their own TV show (“Keeping up with
the Kardashians”). As such, they are an example of the mass
media genre of reality TV and the celebration of celebrity.
Moreover, the Kardashians are the epitome of popular
culture because their show and subsequent lifestyles
reflect consumerist values, trivial pastimes and
superficiality.
This is the thesis statement (the answer to the question). The thesis
statement is the argument you will be making in your essay. The
Kardashians ARE the epitome of popular culture BECAUSE...
These three areas listed (in the “because”)will become the structure of the
essay – each of those would be discussed in turn in the essay.
Definition paragraph
This paragraph is defining the key concept of “popular culture”.
Popular culture is a debated concept (Brown, 2011; Henry,
2008; Smith, 1999). Smith (1999) suggests that popular culture
constitutes values and norms that are promoted by the mass
media and enjoyed by the majority of the population. Henry
(2008) adds that popular culture is the mass publication and
promotion of what is glitzy and superficial. Brown (2011),
furthermore, argues that popular culture is inherently negative
and damaging. “Popular culture sees the death of difference and
in-depth thinking, and is ultimately the celebration of the trivial”
(Brown, 2011, p.19).
Often also a good place for a direct quote.
Conclusion
Can start with “In conclusion…” Nice cue for the marker – and you.
Re-state the thesis statement.
In conclusion, their lifestyle and reality TV show have made the
Kardashians the epitome of popular culture. The consumerist
values promoted in the design of their reality TV series, their
trivial pastimes, and the high level of superficiality all blend
together to reinforce and perpetuate the celebration of celebrity,
which in turn shapes the norms and values of society. Discussion
and analysis of examples of popular culture are vital, as they
lead to a greater understanding of the influences shaping
contemporary society.
Summarise the key points.
End with a broad statement – often highlighting why an important
area of study.
Role of referencing
• You need to make an argument
– not unsubstantiated opinion
• You need to make your argument by referring to
the work of others
• Definitions, facts, theories, ideas
– all need a citation
Body paragraph
The consumerist values reflected in the show and lifestyles
of the Kardashians illustrate how they are the epitome of
popular culture . For example, the short-lived wedding on
the TV show was paid for entirely by advertising revenue.
Furthermore, Harris states that consumerism and popular
culture “are entwined and produce a self-fulfilling
prophesy”. This integrated reinforcement of consumerism
and popular culture is also represented in the Kardashians
lifestyle and TV show in that the clothing worn by the lead
women (in particular, Kim Kardashian) are part of the
Kardashians’ fashion label and available for sale.
Body paragraph – with citations
The consumerist values reflected in the show and lifestyles
of the Kardashians illustrate how they are the epitome of
popular culture . For example , the recent wedding on the
TV show was paid for entirely by advertising revenue
(Kenny, 2012). Furthermore, Harris (2009) states that
consumerism and popular culture “are entwined and
produce a self-fulfilling prophesy” (p.212). This integrated
reinforcement of consumerism and popular culture is also
represented in the Kardashians lifestyle and TV show in
that the clothing worn by the lead women (in particular, Kim
Kardashian) are part of the Kardashians’ fashion label and
available for sale (Laylor, 2012).
Essay writing process

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