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Essay 1: Argument/Exemplification
Social Media and Activism
Final Draft Due: Tuesday 2/19
Rough Draft for Peer Editing: Thursday 2/14
Periods of social unrest can be difficult to understand and especially to live through; still, the
right to organize and protest is fundamental in American society. For generations, protest and
social activism have taken on many shapes and forms and have helped to create the world we
live in today. In recent years, social activism has taken on a new form. Much of social
organizing and protest seems to done online, often through social media networks such as
Facebook and Twitter. Social media can provide a powerful tool for organizations to spread their
messages and unite individuals toward a common purpose. However, it can also elicit
complacency and what is often referred to as “slactivism.”
With this assignment, we will continue to look at and participate in academic conversation
between scholars as they, and we, attempt to discuss and analyze the role of social media in
political and social activism and our search of justice.
Reading and Writing Skills
Over the course of this assignment, we will continue to work on developing key academic
reading and writing skills, which you will use throughout your career as a student and which
constitute the basis of most scholarly writing. We will be annotating and close reading texts,
dissecting parts of argument, analyzing and critiquing opposing points of view and finally
creating our own arguments by developing strong thesis statements, incorporating sources into
our argument and thoroughly explaining and analyzing evidence.
Academic scholars do not write in a vacuum—their arguments are typically in response to other
arguments about the same topic. With this assignment, you will get the chance to participate in
the academic conversation once again. We will begin by reading Malcolm Gladwell’s article
“Small Change,” which discusses strong and weak ties and their effect on activism. We will then
read criticism of his ideas, in the form of published articles by other scholars, so that we can see
this idea of “academic conversations” in practice. After considering all of those viewpoints, you
will enter the conversation about the role of social media in activism a social justice and write an
essay explaining your argument about the topic.
Now that you briefly understand what we are doing with this assignment and why we are doing
it, I will now introduce our guiding questions. Through our reading and writing over the next few
weeks, we will be considering and discussing the following: What role does social media play in
organizing political and social protest? How successful are social media organized campaigns?
Your essay should clearly answer the following question: Is social media, overall, beneficial
or harmful to modern day activism?
The section below outlines the specific requirement of this assignment.
The purpose of this assignment is to:
1. Read and respond to a college-level text.
2. Compose college-level writing.
3. Produce an academic summary of an article.
4. Respond to a topic with an original argument.
This assignment will help students meet the following Student Learning Objectives, as stated on
the course syllabus:
1. Use active/critical-reading strategies to produce accurate, concise summaries
of college level/academic texts.
2. Synthesize researched material from multiple texts to create and support an
argument in response to a prompt. Draw direct evidence from texts in support
of claims and analyze how that evidence supports the claim.
3. Utilize the various phases in the writing process—prewriting, writing
revision, and proofreading—to produce clear, articulate, well-supported,
4. Avoid plagiarism by properly citing quoted, summarized, and paraphrased
material using MLA format.
Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change.” The New Yorker. 4 Oct. 2010
Stone, Biz. “Exclusive: Biz Stone on Twitter and Activism.” The Atlantic. Oct 19, 2010.
Berlatsky, Noah. “Hashtag Activism Isn’t a Cop-Out.” The Atlantic. 7 Jan 2015.
Essig, Kate. “Activism or Slacktivism? How Social Media Hurts and Helps Student
Activism.” St. Louis Public Radio. 2 Jan. 2014.
Zeynep, Tufekci. “Online Social Change: Easy to Organize, Hard to Win.” Ted Talk.
Compose an essay, between 800-1000 words in length, which presents an argument about the
topic of social media activism. Again, your essay should clearly answer the following
question: Is social media, overall, beneficial or harmful to modern day activism?
• Your essay must include cited evidence from at least three of your assignment texts.
Your essay must also include your argument about the effect of social media use on
political and social activism. That means you need a thesis and topic sentences, which
state your claim and reasons why. You also need support for your argument in the form
of cited material and personal experience. You will be using PIE paragraph structure
o Your argument should include at least one counter-argument, or point your
opposition could raise, to which you respond with a refutation.
NOTE: Since you are citing the article, and possibly your own sources, don’t forget your
Works Cited page.
1. Rough Draft for Peer Review (30 points)
2. Final Draft (100 points)
Final Draft Rubric
Define the Problem
definition of the
problem, and a
and states the
thesis of the
e problem is
details are a
not related to
logical and well
for change or
Three or more
main points are
in one or
material is used
the text. All
and in the
on the Works
All sources are
but a few are
not in the
format on the
but many are
not in the
Punctuation and Sentence
one or two
are three or
four errors in
four or more
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