Assignment Prompt: The Contested Concept Essay: What Concept is Misunderstood in Our Communities?
In Unit Two, we will be analyzing a contested concept within our communities to investigate why a dispute or misunderstanding exists and to defend the understanding of a concept that is most useful or important.
Step One: identify a contested concept within your community (or communities) and ensure that it will work as a contested concept by asking the questions in the lecture above. You should consider:
Is the concept in a sense an idea? Are there multiple definitions of the concept?
Does it have both a denotative meaning as well as many different connotations?
Do people understand it and its role in different ways, and might these understandings be reasonably debated? Is its meaning evolving?
Are there implications for different understandings of the term?
Step Two: identify what the different understandings of this concept are. You should consider:
Who holds different understandings of this concept? What are the understandings they hold?
Why do they hold these different views?
What is the implication of these different understandings?
How do these understandings impact communication within a community or communities?
Step Three: consider your own understanding of this concept. Knowing all of the ways that others understand this concept, consider the following:
What is it that you think this concept means? What is your understanding of it and why?
Why does your understanding matter?
How might your understanding be useful or important to your community?
This unit asks you to think about a contested concept to construct a paper that:
Explains the different understandings of the concept — show how different groups understand the concept in different ways
Analyzes and evaluates the different understandings — why do different groups have different understandings? where do their understandings come from? why are some understandings less valid or more valid than others? what are the implications, both good and bad, of these different understandings?
Argues for a particular understanding of the concept — convince readers that your understanding of the concept is the most accurate or useful
Explains the important implications of your understanding of the concept for your community
Your essay should be approximately 5-7 pages long. The paper should be presented in size 12 Times New Roman font and double spaced. The margins should all be set at 1” and follow MLA or APA formatting guidelines.
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