AS Sociology – how to answer short answer ‘outline’ (6 mark) questions

Question 3 of the topics section of the AS sociology research methods and topics exam will ask you to outline three reasons/ ways/ or criticisms (for example, you may be asked to outline three consequences, possibly). =

Question 3 has a total of 6 marks, and you need to think of this as 3 lots of 1+1* – this is how they are marked – 1 mark for each ‘partial reason’ and then +1 for each of those reasons developed further – so say something, then explain how, develop it further, basically doing what the question is asking you to do!

Outline three criticisms of the Marxist perspective on the family (6)

below are the ‘identifiers’ , add in more explanation to each point to guarantee 1+1

  • Many families don’t just mindlessly consume products (the family is not automatically a unit of consumption)
  • Radical Feminists argue Patriarchy is more oppressive than Capitalism – Patriarchy preceded Capitalism
  • The nuclear family doesn’t ‘fit’ Capitalism as well as Marxists suggest
  • It is economically deterministic – nuclear families existed before Capitalism

Outline three ways in which family life has become more symmetrical (6)

below are the ‘identifiers’ , add in more explanation to each point to guarantee 1+1

  • More couples are live in dual-earner households
  • Men and women share child care and housework more equally
  • Men and women are more likely today to spend their leisure time together than separately

Outline three reasons why family life has become more child centred (6)

below are the ‘identifiers’ , add in more explanation to each point to guarantee 1+1

  • Women have fewer children
  • Parents are more dependent on their children because of increased uncertainty in every other aspect of social life.
  • Parents have more money to spend on children
  • There are more laws protecting children

*NB this IS NOT CLEAR from the ‘outline’ – I’ve heard some teenagers say they think this is because the AQA examiners have a burning hatred of teenagers, and I’ve heard some cynical colleagues suggest that the lack of clear instruction is just because the examiners don’t get out much and thus haven’t had much practice in receiving or giving clear instructions.

However, it’s also possible that this is deliberate and really just all about differentiation – exams are designed to create winners and losers, and not giving clear instructions about what you should actually be doing to get the marks simply makes it more likely that there are going to be clear losers. 

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