for your Research Question, a brief
lay-of the land
narrative that provides a broad
description of the problem at hand. This general comment shows what brings you to the
issue, often by way of setting down the current scholarly debate, or by describing a scene
from a film, book, or news event.
“The themes of
are being discussed in many quarters of the
left today. This is no doubt a consequence of the crisis of class politics and indicates the
growing awareness of the need for a new form of identification around which to
organize the forces struggling for a radicalization of democracy.”
as you see it, which hints at the Research Question itself. This brief narrative
frames the issue at hand so that you can then ask a specific question for your research.
“I believe that the question of political identity is crucial and that the attempt to
identities is one of the more important tasks of democratic politics.
But there are many different versions of citizenship and vital issues are at stake in their
contest. The way we define citizenship is intimately linked to the kind of society and
political community we want.”
which can take the form of a stated problem (“In this essay I want
to interrogate the ways
informs our identity-constructs”), or an actual question
(“In what ways does
determine our identity?) This is the single most important
component of your writing.
“How should we understand
when our goal is both a radical and plural
democracy? Such a project requires the creation of a chain of equivalence among
democratic struggles, and therefore the creation of a common political identity among
democratic subjects. For the term
to actually mean this and function in this
way, what conditions must it meet?”
and a glimpse of your Researched Argument. This optional narrative
shows how you plan to address the question through research, and how your argument will
emerge from your findings.
“These are the problems that I will address, and I will argue that the key task is how to
conceive of the nature of the political community under modern democratic conditions.
I consider that we need to go beyond the conceptions of citizenship of both the liberal
and civic republican tradition while building on their respective strengths.”