Instructions How to Write

Memo Argument on Sidewalks

In the preliminary assignment, you chose one of two options for the topic of your memo:

1) Option One was to conduct further observation of the public space you analyzed on the discussion board, this time with an eye to how social inequalities affect their use.

2) Option Two was to view the documentary, Sidewalk, about street vendors in New York City, and use the film to analyze how inequalities shape vendors’ lives and local debates over the legitimate uses of sidewalks.

If you have already completed the first four steps for the preliminary assignment, then you are well on your way to completing the memo! (If you have not yet done so, make sure to complete the preliminary assignment first). Now, follow the remaining steps to turn your initial ideas into a polished academic paper.

Step 5: Read the feedback you received on the preliminary assignment, and think about what aspects of your initial ideas for the memo you want to change, remove, or clarify in the final version. If you are not sure how to incorporate the feedback you received, attend virtual office hours or email me as soon as possible.

Step 6: Draft a memo of between 800-1,100 words (not including the reference page). The memo should be written in well-structured paragraphs using formal, academic prose. It must have the following five components:

a) an original title that hints at what you will present in the memo.

b) an introductory paragraph that introduces either the site you observed (for Option 1) or the documentary you viewed (for Option 2) AND establishes a thesis statement (i.e. the overall sociological argument you will be making in the memo).

c) two to four body paragraphs in which you clearly establish and explain the two ideas or concepts you are using from the readings; apply them to the film or the public space you observed; and provide evidence from your observations to illustrate your application of the concepts. [Note: The simplest way to organize this is in two body paragraphs, each of which presents one idea from the reading, and applies it to your observation along with supporting evidence].

d) A concluding paragraph that explores how your own analysis focusing on inequalities of race, class, and/or gender, either fits into, challenges, or changes Jane Jacobs’ classic theory of urban public space.

e) A Reference page that includes full citations for the article(s) that you used. Make sure to use Chicago Style (Links to an external site.) for your citations.

Step 7: Go back over your memo to make sure that you have cited your sources internally. Use the (Author Year, Pg#). For example, if you paraphrased or used a direct quote to express an idea from page 113 of the article by Kristen Day, this quote should be followed by (Day 2001, 113).

If you are not quoting directly, but are summarizing a general idea or argument from the article, a citation is still required, but no page number is needed. For example: “Day argued that men and women perceive public space in different ways (Day 2001).”

Also, make sure that all internally cited sources are included in the reference page at the end of the memo. For example, if you cited Kristen Day’s article in your paper, your reference page should include the following full citation:

Day, Kristen. 2001. “Constructing Masculinity and Women's Fear in Public Space in Irvine, California.” Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 8(2): 109-127.

Step 8: Proofread carefully before submission! In particular, you should check for two things: a) typos, incorrect punctuation, missing words, spelling and grammatical errors; and b) overall coherence of the memo – Do I have a clear argument? Does my writing make sense? Does the body of the memo match what I said I would show in the introduction?

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