Help With Writing a Thesis Statement for a Sociology Class

Selective focus photography of aristotle's metaphysics book.jpg

The thesis statement is the single most important sentence that you’ll ever learn to write. It is the main argument of any essay, featured right up front in the essay’s introduction, and it tells your reader in no uncertain terms where you stand. Impress your sociology professor with a perfectly constructed thesis statement about social relationships.

1 Be Clear

Too often, thesis statements are full of overly complicated language and jargon. Sociology papers can fall prey to this tendency even more than papers in other disciplines. Sociology has a storied tradition of thinkers behind it, which is positive in that has a rich repository of ideas, but which can be negative in that it can slip into its own language that becomes inaccessible to everyone but experts. Your professor won’t be impressed by the word “postmodernism” unless you demonstrate that you know what it means, so show off your intellect by making a complex argument in simple language.

2 Be Specific About Your Topic

When you study social trends, it can be easy to veer into abstractions and overgeneralize. Overly general thesis statements are difficult, if not impossible, to support. For instance, as a thesis statement, “All women are oppressed” is far too flimsy and broad. However, “Women are not as financially rewarded in the U.S. workforce as their male counterparts are” is a thesis statement that your readers can sink their teeth into.

3 Supporting Arguments

Thesis statements cannot stand alone as arguments in an essay. If you are arguing in a sociology essay that women are not as financially rewarded in the U.S. workforce as their male counterparts are, a watertight thesis might sound like this: “Women are not as financially rewarded in the U.S. workforce as men are in three ways: First, on average, women’s salaries are lower than men’s salaries; second, women are often unfairly penalized for going on maternity leave; and third, women typically receive fewer and smaller financial bonuses.”

4 Don’t Do Too Much

Don’t cram your entire sociology essay into your thesis statement. Unless they are the focus of the essay and essential components of the thesis statement, don’t use quotes from other authors in it (no, not even Marx), supporting statistics or anecdotal evidence. Your thesis statement is not a literature review, a description of a research methodology, a definition or an analysis of competing views. That’s the rest of your paper. Your thesis statement is the main argument -- trying to make it more than that will actually make it less.

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.