Words: 2041
Pages: 8
Subject: Essays

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Assignments & Rubrics

SOC 300 Written Assignment, Winter 2013

How to begin: Read the three case studies. Each case study is about a particular country and also relates to some of the concepts that are covered in SOC 300. Each case is based on real-world events in an actual country, with some simplification, but does not identify the country by name.

Task: Select one of the case studies. Write an essay of 500-800 words, in your own words, that accomplishes the following:

Explain how two concepts that have been covered in this course relate to this case. Try to identify as many as you can.

Compare and contrast the case study with the experiences of countries that have faced the same or similar issues, as described in the text and lectures. In what ways is the case similar? In what ways it is different?

Format: This is not a research paper. Write it as if it were an essay on an exam. The essay must be in your own words. Base your answer on information from the lectures and texts. However, if you feel that you absolutely must quote something external from the texts and lectures, then you must use in-text citations in APA format, and provide a separate reference page in APA format.

The reference page or title page will not count towards the expected word count. Please note that 500-800 words are about 1.5 – 2.5 pages of double-spaced text.

Title Page: First & Last Name, class section number-SOC300-092 & date.

Submit: Under Week 8 tab, click on written assignment once you have completed the essay and saved your work as a word document. Upload it by clicking on “Browse My Computer button”. This is due 10:00pm, Monday, Mar. 4, 2013.

Grading: The rubric that will be used to grade your essay is found at the end of this document.

Select one of the case studies:

Case: Country A.

In the 1980’s Country A introduced changes that were intended to change the country’s rural areas. Most subsidies for agriculture were eliminated, including subsidies for agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer. Government programs for agricultural loans and technical advice were drastically scaled back. Moreover, restrictions on imports were phased out. The liberalization of agricultural imports was accelerated in the 1990’s , when Country A entered into a free-trade compact with its nearest neighbors. These imports compete against homegrown commodities.

The basic idea behind these changes was to allow market forces to guide agriculture and to promote modernization and efficiency. Policy makers made the following predictions: (a) small plots would be consolidated into more efficient production units; (b) many farmers would leave agriculture completely; and (c) the domestic production of corn (maize) would decrease. These predictions have not materialized. Despite the fact that it is not economically efficient to grow corn in small plots, the small plots of corn persist. In some rural districts, most of the farmland is still planted in corn.

Rather than leave agriculture completely, families have extended their involvement with non-farming activities, while continuing to cultivate small plots. Cultivation of small plots has increasingly been the work of the women. This is particularly true, because many male head of households have found work in the city or in neighboring countries, sending remittances back home to their wives. This migration-based strategy for livelihood means that men are not available to farm, so the job of farming falls upon the women.

Country A has a strong patriarchal tradition in which the male head of the household makes all family decisions. Such decisions include who will migrate to work in the city, and who will stay behind. In this culture, men are expected to “bring in income”; ; ; , while women are expected to “feed the family”.

In Country A, there is a saying that “all corn that is brought into the house belongs to the woman, because she is in charge of feeding the house”. The primary use of corn is to serve as food for human consumption. From a food-appreciation perspective, homemade food is preferred to pre-processed food, and locally-grown corn is preferred to imported corn. However, the women also sell corn at market to get money for soap and other miscellaneous amenities. In addition, in the poorest households, the corn stalks and the cobs from which the grain has been removed can serve as fuel for cooking and for heating in the winter.

Women without a supply of corn have no choice but to negotiate with their husbands for miscellaneous expenses, sometimes on an item by item basis. The problem is compounded for women whose husbands are absent for long periods while working in the city. One woman said “ He sends money, but isn’t always enough to cover expenses. What if the children need to see a doctor?” Thus, women value corn because it is something that they can control, without permission from their husbands, and because it serves as a kind of safety net for unexpected and incidental expenses.

In large parts of Country A, corn production has been feminized. Yet, official policy and tradition tends to marginalize the contribution of women. Policy makers emphasize that they would like to see more women work outside the home.

Case: Country B.

Under British colonial rule, Country B transitioned from an economy based on subsistence farming to an economy based on large-scale exports of agricultural commodities. After throwing out the British in the 1940’s, Country B attempted to establish a democracy, but conflict between ethnic and political groups severely hampered the central government. The political disorder was so overwhelming in the late 1950’s that the Prime Minister asked the military to temporarily take control to establish law and order. That was merely a temporary measure, but within five years, the military had taken over permanently. Ever since, the country has been ruled by a military junta. The economic outlook has worsened considerably since the junta seized control. The worsening of the economy appears to be due to general incompetence of the government, and to ham-handed attempts to establish a socialist system.

About 70% of the population belongs to “Ethnic Group B”. The remaining 30% is comprised of minority ethnic groups. There are 7 major ethnic minority groups, each of which has retained its own language, customs and geographical location. Country B is comprised of 14 provinces: seven are primarily populated by the “Ethnic Group B” majority; the remaining seven are primarily populated by one of the minority ethnic groups.

The junta has a long history of brutally suppressing all opposition. Huge pro-democracy protests in 2007 were violently broken up by the military. Pro-democracy activists have been jailed and beaten. An unspecified number of pro-democracy protesters have been killed. Subsequently, the junta announced completion of a new constitution, specifying a two-house parliamentary system. It also specifies that at least 25% of the seats must be military appointees. Parliamentary elections for the remainder of the seats are planned for 2010.

In the meanwhile, the army has stepped up attacks on ethnic minorities. For instance, over three dozen villages in the “ Ethnic Group S” region have been attacked and forcibly displaced. Other minority groups have also been attacked. Many refugees are fleeing from Country B into neighboring countries, which has severely strained relations between the military government and neighboring governments.

These attacks seem to be part of a plan to intimidate residents of the minority provinces, or to deliberately destabilize them in advance of the election. Some minority groups have flatly rejected the junta’s constitution. One commentator speculates that the junta is trying to force ethnic minority groups to accept their constitution. He calls for “genuine dialog” between the ruling junta and ethnic and political groups. Unfortunately, there seems to be little hope that any genuine dialog will take place. Yet, the commentator rejects the notion that these minority groups are merely victims of repression. He says that they are “active change agents”. Obviously, there is great uncertainty about what will happen in 2010.

Case: Country C.

For the past 200 years, land ownership in Country C was based on the whims of the ruling monarchy, which treated land as the property of the monarchy. Various kings granted land to relatives, military leaders, and advisors, most of whom were not farmers. Thus, a small group of non-farmer absentee landlords came to own most of the country’s farmable land. The land was farmed by poor tenant farmers. Essentially, this was a feudal system.

In the mid 1960’s, in response to protests by tenant farmers, the monarchy introduced a new law which imposed limits on the maximum amount of land that any one person was allowed to own. Surplus land was then supposed to be redistributed to peasant farmers. However, in practice, the law was not enforced. Very little land was redistributed.

In the mid 1990’s amendments to the original law stipulated that tenant farmers who had farmed a tract of land continuously for at least three years would be given half of the land. This led to a situation in which landlords evicted tenant farmers before the three years had passed. Moreover, claims to land were dependent on filing paperwork with the government, which many farmers were unable to do. Subsequently, under pressure from the World Bank, a program was started to assist poor tenant farmers in buying land from wealthy landlords. The reality was that few poor farmers were willing to borrow huge sums of money to buy land from the wealthy patrons of the monarchy. Moreover, the program was marred by corruption and accomplished little.

In the meanwhile, Maoist rebels were building up support in the countryside. The Maoists portrayed themselves as friends of the poor and vowed to remedy the land ownership situation. Civil war ensued. After 10 years of civil war, the monarchy of Country C reached a settlement with the Maoist opposition, which called for the establishment of an elected government. In 2008, Maoists swept the parliamentary elections, which led the king to step down.

It isn’t yet clear if or how the Maoists will make good on their promise to remedy the land situation. Even if farmers gain ownership, it isn’t clear whether they will have the resources to buy agricultural inputs, such as seeds, fertilizer and so forth. Nor is it clear that their agricultural products can compete on the world market. What will become of the farms and farmers remains to be seen.


Relative Weighting (%age)








Following directions for length and submission procedures


Did not follow directions on length and/or submission procedures.


Mostly followed directions on length and submission procedure


Completely followed directions on length and submission procedures.


Clarity of writing


Essay is not clearly written. Many or most passages are difficult to follow or ambiguously worded so that the meaning is obscured.

— and / or —

Many or most passages are marred by errors in grammar, syntax and/or spelling.


In general, the essay is clearly written, but some passages are difficult to follow or ambiguously worded so that the meaning is obscured.

— and / or —

Some passages are marred by errors in grammar, syntax and/or spelling.


Clearly written so that the reader can easily follow the essay.

–and —

Unmarred by errors in grammar, syntax and spelling.




No relevant course concepts are appropriately applied to the question(s).

— or–

Many or most attempts to use applicable terminology are ambiguous or incorrect.


Some of the relevant course concepts are appropriately applied to the question(s), but obviously related concepts are omitted.

— or–

The relationship between the stated concepts is mostly clear and logical, but suffers from one or more flaws in logic, clarity or correct use of terminology


Many of the relevant course concepts are appropriately applied to the question.

–and —

The relationship between the stated concepts and the case is clear or logically spelled out. Terminology is used correctly


200 Points= 100%