Making social worlds

In order to survive, human beings live in social worlds which create security, foster stable attachment between individuals and things, and regulate behaviour. This accessible, vocationally relevant module demonstrates how sociological approaches can be applied to make sense of these processes – investigating how they work and how they sometimes fail. Through topics such as medicine, the family, money and reality television, you will explore how social experience is shaped by the material world, and made meaningful through culture. The module is ideal if you have previously studied the social sciences and want to consolidate your understanding of sociology.

TMA Questions to be used as examples for prospective future students

TMA 01

TMA 01 (cut-off date: 30 October 2012)

The assignment

‘Social worlds, including the airport, are made up of complex mixtures of the social and the material that are so interwoven that they’re difficult to separate. Therefore it’s important to take account of the way that humans interact with material objects, and not consider only the extremes of the purely human or the purely material.’

Write a 1000-word essay exploring how the material and the social are interwoven, using the ‘Airports’ and the ‘Passbook’ sections of the DVD-ROM Passports: registering the individual to illustrate your answer.

What to submit: 1000-word essay.


TMA 02

TMA 02 (cut-off date: 11 December 2012)

The assignment

What does examining mediation tell us about the nature of security in social worlds? Illustrate your answer with reference to security in international relations.

What to submit: 1800-word essay.


TMA 03

TMA 03 (cut-off date: 8 January 2013)

The assignment

Note: Before answering this TMA you should read the Building Sociological Skills: Online skills companion section ‘Preparing for TMA 03’, which can be found on the DD308 website.

Part 1 (50%)

You will find an extract from a journal article as TMA 03 Appendix 1  on the module website. This article has been intentionally altered to introduce a number of citation and referencing errors.

Please read this extract carefully and identify and correct as many of these errors as you can.

Part 2 (50%)

Below are some questions related to material you have already covered. We want you to go through the first stages of preparing to answer one of these questions. This will involve using a supplied library of journal articles, book chapters, press articles and policy reports that you will find via the DD308 website.

  • First select the relevant question you are going to answer.
  • Then search through the supplied library of articles and find five that would help you prepare an answer (these should include at least one of each of the following: a journal article, a chapter and a press article).
  • Give a simple two-sentencejustification for each of your choices, with the appropriate reference as it would appear in an essay.
  • Prepare a reference list of your five articlesas it would appear at the end of an essay.

Questions for Part 2

  1. How can sociology contribute to an understanding of security?
  2. What does the passport contribute to the making of social worlds?
  3. Discuss the claim that airports are the modern frontier towns.

Note: You are not expected to attempt an answer to any of the above questions.

What to submit

Part 1: A numbered list of errors including the line number of the error. (50%)

Part 2Five two-sentence justifications of why you have chosen the reference to answer your question, together with an appropriately referenced list of sources. (50%)

Important: Before you start work on this assignment, please ensure that you have read the Social Sciences Assessment Information and the Assessment Guidance specific to this module. Failure to comply with the relevant guidance could result in the loss of marks, and penalties to your studies.


TMA 04

TMA 04 (cut-off date: 19 February 2013)

The assignment

What is the social constructionist account of attachment as described in Chapter 1 of Book 2, Attachment: Sociology and Social Worlds? Assess the strengths and limitations of that account in the light of arguments about ‘matter’ developed in at least one other chapter in the book.

What to submit: An 1800-word essay.


TMA 05

TMA 05 (cut-off date: 19 March 2013)

The assignment

In this assignment we will be asking you to critically summarise one of the provided journal articles in a presentation of no more than six pages. Choose one of the two papers reproduced as TMA 05 Reading 1[Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and TMA 05 Reading 2 on the module website. These two papers are:

Jacobs, B.A. (1997) ‘Contingent ties: undercover drug officers’ use of informants’, The British Journal of Sociology, vol. 48, no. 1 (March), pp. 35–53

Fallon, D. (2010) ‘Accessing emergency contraception: the role of friends in the adolescent experience’, Sociology of Health & Illness, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 677–694.

What to submit: A six slide/page presentation prepared using an appropriate package, for example, PowerPoint or Word.


TMA 06

TMA 06 (cut-off date: 7 May 2013)

The assignment

Critically evaluate the claim that all individual human capacities can be seen as the product of certain forms of social training and practice.

Illustrate your answer in relation to self-service shopping, personal finance, or drunken and/or disorderly conduct using at least three independently gathered sources in addition to the module material.

What to submit: 1800-word essay including reference to three independently gathered sources.



End-of-module assessment (cut-off date: 12 noon, 11 June 2013)

The assignment

Write a 3000-word essay on one of the following questions.


Are the individual and the social two sides of the same coin?


What role does mediation play in social worlds?

(Note that the question title and your final list of references should not be included in the total word count. However, in-text references, subheadings and – where used – footnotes should be included in the final word count.)

What your answer must include

Your answer should be a coherent whole, develop a logical argument, be correctly referenced and make appropriate use of subheadings. However, in addition, it should:

  1. Answer the question chosen via an in-depth exploration of at leastonetopic, issue or example.

This/these should be selected from either:

(a) The following list of topics, issues and examples that appear in the DD308 module material.

  • Personal finance, money or gift/exchange relations
  • Immigration and/or asylum
  • Families and/or thehome
  • Crime, disorderly or violent conduct
  • Boxing, sport and gender


(b) A topic, issue or example that does not appear in the module material and that we would strongly advise you to choose in consultation with your tutor. This topic may, for example, relate to a local or speci fic context that you know.


(c) A combination of (a) and (b) above. It is also acceptable to combine any topic encountered in DD308 with another topic not addressed in the module. You might, for example, relate the discussion of security in the context of Harry Potter novels to the teenage vampire phenomenon in fiction, film and television. There are numerous possibilities and they will all be acceptable provided you relate them to the sociological concern in the question and to the broad themes of DD308.

  1. Think critically and reflectively.

This examinable essay should demonstrate your critical ability to re fl ect back on the module using your evaluative skills. You may want to question and debate arguments presented in the module material, and when supported with proper argument and evidence this is entirely appropriate.

  1. ‘Go beyond’ the module material.

One of your main tasks in answering the question you have chosen is to demonstrate the ability to apply your understanding of arguments from the module to new examples or contexts – that is, to examples or contexts that ‘ go beyond ’ the module material. How should you set about this?

  • If you choose options (b) or (c) above, you will automatically be applying arguments developed in DD308 to new examples or contexts and will have fulfilled this requirement of the question. Make sure that you do not rely on anecdotal stories or evidence in selecting your material. This is not an occasion to describe something that happened to someone you know, for example.
  • If you choose option (a) above (i.e. you select one or more topics from the list provided), you will need to extend your discussion to include a dimension, aspect or instance of the topic(s) selected that is not directly explored in DD308 material. One way of doing this is to extend the topic by considering a new development, for example personal finance could be extended in relation to payday lenders or the current constraints facing first-time buyers.
  1. Cite and reference at least two sources not included in the module material.

Your sources are most likely to be drawn from newspapers, academic journals, books, television, radio or online media. They should be clearly relevant to your argument and should be accurately referenced both in the text and in your list of references at the end of your essay. The more you are able to draw on and integrate the content of these sources into your answer, the more you are likely to be rewarded for your use of them.

Arguments from other academic sources which offer a critical or contrasting approach to those presented in the module material are entirely appropriate if they are well developed. Including material you have encountered in other Open University (OU) modules is also acceptable but you should not rely on this and should still aim to incorporate two other independently gathered sources. You may use more than two independent sources, but you should bear in mind that you will still need to ensure that your discussion bears directly on the sociological concern referenced in the question.

Word limit: 3000.


2 End of Module Assessment (EMA) Guidance

EMA Length

3000 words excluding the title and reference list but including subtitles, references included in the main body of the text and – where used – footnotes.

Cut-off date

To be uploaded onto the eTMA system no later than 12 noon on Tuesday, 11 June 2013.


Module review

Prepared for the module team by Andy Morris


This Module Review is designed to help you revisit the key elements of DD308 – specifically, the themes and the sociological concerns – and, more importantly, to help you think about how these hang together. By this stage in the module you will have digested an extensive range of perspectives, concepts and case studies and you might be forgiven if the sheer volume of information involved seems a little overwhelming. This is, therefore, a timely opportunity to review the structural components of DD308 and for you to clarify your thoughts as you approach the end of the module.

Needless to say, the most significant structural framework of DD308 is provided by the themes: security, attachment and conduct. Consequently, it is these themes to which this Review turns first. Revisiting the themes will provide you with an opportunity to condense and sharpen your understanding of them, particularly important as you approach the End of Module Assessment (EMA). In particular, this Review will explore some of the common ‘threads’ that run through discussion of the themes and, in so doing, will highlight some of the major issues that run through DD308.

While the themes provide a central framework for understanding DD308, you will also want to consolidate your understanding of the sociological concerns, not least because they, too, are relevant to the EMA. In fact, while the themes are important to the EMA, it is the sociological concerns around which EMA questions are organised. As you will by now recognise, matter, mediation and the individual make available some powerful sociological perspectives through which we can ‘flesh out’ the themes and our sociological understanding more broadly. With this in mind, having explored the themes, this Review turns to consider the sociological concerns, emphasising in particular how the themes intersect with, and are illuminated by, them.