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Draft research paper: guidelines

Building on your literature review, you are required to produce a draft of your research paper. You should find at least two further piece of academic literature, one of which may (but does not have to) be a reading from the fall term if it is relevant to your topic.

The draft should not exceed 2000 words in length and its structure should be as follows:

(i) Title page: this page will have your name, student number and the title of the research paper.

(ii) Abstract: an abstract is a short summary of the whole paper. The best thing is to look at some examples from journal articles. Book chapters sometimes have abstracts, too (see, e.g., the abstract from the chapter of Tom Malleson’s book which we read in week 11 of the fall term). An abstract should not exceed 100 words. Given that the abstract is a summary of your paper, it will be the last thing you write – after you know what you have written in your paper.

(iii) Introduction: the introduction also summarises the paper though it should be a bit longer than the abstract. In the introduction, you tell the reader what to expect from the paper. Your introduction should mention the broad topic of the paper and tell the reader why it is an important topic. It is essential that the introduction contain a roadmap of the paper, i.e. a step-by-step description of how the paper proceeds. The roadmap should contain a clear statement of the thesis of your paper. A thesis represents your opinion on the question of your research paper. Like the abstract, you can only write an introduction when you know the structure of your paper, so an introduction can only be completed at the end of the research and writing process.

(iv) Main body of paper: you should write the main part of your essay with a thesis in mind. Your paper stands or falls with your ability to justify your thesis. To justify your thesis, you require arguments in support of it. Arguments in favour of your thesis rest on evidence which comes in many forms. You may, but do not have to, divide the main body of your paper into sections.

(v) Conclusion: your concluding section recapitulates your thesis and summarises the steps of the paper which led to the justification of your conclusion. Sometimes research papers end the concluding section by mentioning further avenues of research which can be undertaken on your topic but which your paper did not accomplish.

(vi) References: as with the literature review, you should list the sources (alphabetically by author’s surname) with the full bibliographic information.

The following list consists of research questions of which you are to choose one for your research project in the winter term. Choose one and do not change it once you have stared to work on it.

1) In which respects does democracy require equality, and in which ways does capitalism undermine this equality?

2) Why is the rule of law important in democratic countries and how is the rule of law support the functioning of a capitalist economy?

3) Using an example of your choice, describe a country in the contemporary world which is “state capitalist”, and explain why it answers too that description. What are the strengths and weaknesses of state capitalism in the country you choose?

4) What is economic democracy, and is it both feasible and desirable?

5) In which ways do corporations influence government, and is corporate influence a good thing?

6) Capitalism requires that individuals are free. In which sense(s) are individuals in a capitalist society free and in which sense(s) unfree?

7) Using an example, provide evidence that corporate power and lobbying has influenced the policies or laws of a country. Has corporate power and lobbying subverted democracy in the example you choose?

8) Assess the effects of the legal case, Citizens United versus Federal Elections Commission, which came before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, on U.S. democracy.

9) Should non-elected officials and experts rather than elected politicians be allowed to make political decisions? Use one example of a public policy to illustrate your answer.

10) Karl Marx holds that the division of labour in society is anarchic, while the division of labour in manufacturing is despotic. Explain what he means by this.



SOSC 1520 – winter-term lectures on research skills

Abstracts, introductions & conclusions

EXAMPLE I: abstract

Annamaria Artner (2018). “Can capitalism be truly democratic?” Review of Radical Political Economics 50 (4), pp. 793-809.

Notice that I have indented the abstract to indicate that I am quoting directly (see my lecture on academic integrity and indenting long quotations). Please read the example before I make some remarks about it.

This article re-examines the relationship between liberal democracy and the free market with
special regard to changes caused by globalization. It concludes that the logic of market
mechanisms poses a threat to democracy, while the extension of democracy would
inevitably limit the freedom of the market and curb capital accumulation. The globalized
free market and liberal democracy contradict each other, and their tandem may be the most
developed form of capitalism, but not of human society in general (79 words).

EXAMPLE II: Beginning of introduction

Title of research paper: Is global capitalism compatible with democracy?

Whether democracy and capitalism go hand-in-hand or stand in contradiction to one another is an old question which has become an increasingly pressing in the age of globalization. While democracy has remained largely national or sub-national in scope, capitalism is a global phenomenon. Can our current democratic institutions regulate global capitalism adequately?

EXAMPLE III: statement of thesis in introduction

In this paper, I argue that global capitalism should be controlled by binding regulations between democratically-elected governments.

EXAMPLE IIIA: statement of thesis in introduction

In this paper, I argue that pressure placed on democratically-elected governments by multinational corporations (MNCs) prevents governments from carrying out the will of its people as expressed in democratic elections. I demonstrate this through an examination of environmental policy in Argentina which reveals the incompatibility between democracy and capitalism.

EXAMPLE IV: roadmap

In section one, I review arguments which hold that global capitalism has led to a “race to the bottom”, whereby, in response to the demands of MNCs, governments are unable to enact policies demanded by the electorate without the threat of capital outflow. Section two offers an example from environmental policy in Argentina which has faced pressure from MNCs to clear forests to make way for international cattle-ranching operations despite overwhelming public support for the protection of forests. I show how MNCs have systematically undermined democratic environmental policy through the use of threats, bribes and coercion. Section three concludes the paper with ideas for future research on the topic of this essay.

EXAMPLE V: COMPLETE INTRODUCTION

Whether democracy and capitalism go hand-in-hand or stand in contradiction to one another is an old question which has become an increasingly pressing in the age of globalization. While democracy has remained largely national or sub-national in scope, capitalism is a global phenomenon. Can our current democratic institutions regulate global capitalism adequately? In this paper, I argue that pressure placed on democratically-elected governments by multinational corporations (MNCs) prevents governments from carrying out the will of its people as expressed in democratic elections. I demonstrate this through an examination of environmental policy in Argentina which reveals the incompatibility between democracy and capitalism.

In section one, I review arguments which hold that global capitalism has led to a “race to the bottom”, whereby, in response to the demands of MNCs, governments are unable to enact policies demanded by the electorate without the threat of capital outflow. Section two offers an example from environmental policy in Argentina which has faced pressure from MNCs to clear forests to make way for international cattle-ranching operations despite overwhelming public support for the protection of forests. I show how MNCs have systematically undermined democratic environmental policy through the use of threats, bribes and coercion. Section three concludes the paper with ideas for future research on the topic of this essay.

EXAMPLE VI: CONCLUSION

This paper has argued that there is a contradiction between global capitalism and democracy. I demonstrated this contradiction through an analysis of the influence of MNCs on environmental policy in Argentina. I found that MNCs put pressure on the Argentinian government in an effort to prevent policies which restrict land use and private ownership of forest land. This corporate pressure persuaded the government not to enact environmental legislation which was demanded by the electorate; consequently, foreign-run cattle-ranching operations have flourished in Argentina at the expense of forestry conservation.

EXAMPLE VII: CONCLUSION (continued)

The findings of this paper should disturb anyone who values democracy. If foreign corporations can influence the legislation of democratically-elected governments and undermine the will of citizens, it is clear that such corporations have too much power and exercise it illegitimately. Most concerning is that, as in Argentina, the preservation of forests is becoming increasingly difficult in light of corporate demands for the privatization of land and the consequent deforestation which privatization involves. It appears that a pressing human need for environmental protection is being thwarted by corporate interests. In light of this, greater governmental control over corporations is needed, not only at existing levels of government but, more importantly, through multilateral agreements amongst governments.

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