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Focusing on the topic - conclusions

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More often than not, the conclusion is the last thing that you write (often in great haste the night before it is due!). However, it is worth allowing some time for careful revision of your conclusion. Remember that it is the last thing the marker will read and will leave a strong impression regarding whether or not you have addressed the question and provided a clear response. (Remember also to review your introduction at the same time that you write your conclusion, to ensure continuity.)

Your conclusion should tie all the threads of your discussion together and refer back to the central question. It can broaden the discussion (briefly) to include wider implications or questions for future research, but should not include any new aspects of your argument.

Remember, in your first-year Sociology subject, you are not required to provide solutions or make suggestions for dealing with social problems. Your conclusion, therefore, should not contain recommendations.

Question 1

Now examine the following student's conclusion to her essay on this topic:

Examine the ways in which the mass media construct and reinforce social stereotypes around gender, ethnicity, and age.

Sample conclusion 1

The modern media of communication are central to an individual's life, providing many necessary information services as well as offering possibilities for self-enlightenment and entertainment. The media constructs and reinforces social stereotypes around gender, ethnicity and age around the images that are produced, and by the way they are capable of shaping the individual's attitudes and beliefs. Despite such interpretations, it is the choice of the individual what they decide to consume from the diverse amount of information that is served openly to the public, and to eliminate misleading representations concerning members from diverse cultural groups.

Can you identify particular words and phrases that tie this introduction to the topic question? If so, tick the boxes of the important words below.



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Compare the words and phrases you have identified with the following:

Sample conclusion 1

The modern media of communication are central to an individual's life, providing many necessary information services as well as offering possibilities for self-enlightenment and entertainment. The media constructs and reinforces social stereotypes around gender, ethnicity and age around the images that are produced, and by the way they are capable of shaping the individual's attitudes and beliefs. Despite such interpretations, it is the choice of the individual what they decide to consume from the diverse amount of information that is served openly to the public, and to eliminate misleading representations concerning members from diverse cultural groups.

This conclusion is somewhat bland. It refers to the topic, but superficially and does not draw through any themes which may have been discussed in the paper.

The last sentence also contradicts the previous sentence. "Real" choice is difficult when individuals have already internalised particular stereotypes from their social environment.


Question 2

Here is an example of a different type of conclusion to the essay.

Sample conclusion 2

[1] In conclusion, the mass media use stereotypes to provide truncated, fast and simple information to its audiences. [2] Profit is a major influence in the use of these stereotypes; "Give them what they want" rather than provide in-depth individual information based on reality. [3] Advertisers in particular want safe representations of the dominant culture's ideology to represent their product. [4] Mass media's use of stereotypes is clearly based on the dominant culture's ideologies. [5] Issues of power and profit are significant in the construction of images that reflect the society's ideological beliefs and values - a safe context. [6] However, Grossberg, et al (1998: 234) suggest that because of the increasing influence of the media in constructing people's identities, people seem to have developed a much more fragmented and fluid sense of themselves. [7] With less commitment to any single identity, sociologists debate whether people's identities are changing as a result of the growing power of popular culture and the mass media. [8] This question of whether mass media can bring about social change must come from outside that framework before it is reflected in it, is a debated one. [9] The only possible answer is a combination of both.

Which sentences summarise the argument and which draw further conclusions? Type the numbers into the comment box below:



Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 4

Sentence 5

Sentence 6

Sentence 7

Sentence 8

Sentence 9

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Sentences 1 - 6 summarise the main points of the essay, while sentences 7-10 draw implications from this.


Question 3

Here is another example of a different type of conclusion to the essay.

Sample conclusion 3

The sense of naturalness with which the media portray the "reality" of the modern world allow them to create oversimplified assumptions in the minds of their audiences. The formulaic use of labels, symbols and binary codes, coupled with omissions or over-exposure of various images and construct patterns of characterisation, and thereby objectify groups into the distinct boundaries of a stereotype (Elliot, 1996:3). Ultimately, the continuous recycling of particular ideas and visual representations influences audiences to internalize these portrayals as their own, and to thereby validate the values and attitudes disseminated by the media (Thwaites, Davis, and Mules, 1994: 170). As Walter Lippmann wrote, " Whether right or wrong, ... imagination is shaped by the pictures seen...Consequently, they lead to stereotypes that are hard to shake" (Elliot, 1996:3).

Does it address the main themes of the topic? Can you identify words and phrases that tie the introduction to the topic? If so, tick the boxes of the important words below.



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This conclusion focuses quite specifically on the topic question; that is on the ways in which the mass media creates new or strenghtens existing stereotypes.

Sample conclusion 3

The sense of naturalness with which the media portray the "reality" of the modern world allow them to create oversimplified assumptions in the minds of their audiences. The formulaic use of labels, symbols and binary codes, coupled with omissions or over-exposure of various images, construct patterns of characterisation, and thereby objectify groups into the distinct boundaries of a stereotype (Elliot, 1996:3). Ultimately, the continuous recycling of particular ideas and visual representations influences audiences to internalize these portrayals as their own, and to thereby validate the values and attitudes disseminated by the media (Thwaites, Davis, and Mules, 1994: 170). As Walter Lippmann wrote, " Whether right or wrong, ... imagination is shaped by the pictures seen...Consequently, they lead to stereotypes that are hard to shake" (Elliot, 1996:3).

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