Test Information Page - Perspectives on Human Nature  

Mid-term and Final Test format
Sample Test Responses

Mid-term and Final Test Format
Both the mid-term and final tests in the Perspectives on Human Nature course will have the following format:

• You will receive an exam sheet with 5 concepts, from which you will select 4 to write on.
• For each concept, you need to address the following two elements (keep the two parts separate):

1. Short, concise definition of the concept (1-3 sentences). ( 1 point )
2. An elaboration of the concept, giving the author of the concept, the context of use of the concept, at least 2 other concepts with which the concept under definition clusters and, if possible, a concrete example of the concept from the course readings, lectures, or from everyday life. ( 3 points )

The following two pdf. files contain a list of all the concepts for the fall and spring tests respectively (there may be a few changes announced in class a few weeks prior to the tests).  From these lists five concepts will be selected for each test.
Additional Fall Concepts.pdf

Sample Exam Responses
These are actual answers from a mid-term exam in another course in Sociology. The authors of the responses have kindly given their permission for their answers to be anonymously reproduced here. In general, the answers are a little on the lengthy side, but they do cover the three elements of the answer well. They are reproduced here to give you a sense of how to go about preparing and answering the exam questions.


Student X

3. Ideology

a) Marx defines ideology as the integrated system of ideas that is external to and coercive of individuals. It is made up of people's beliefs and values and makes up how people perceive things in life.

b) Marx believed that because the capitalist controlled and owned the means of production, that meant that they also owned the mental production in a society. Therefore, the ideology in a capitalist society was one that benefited the capitalists therefore the ideology's function within a capitalist society is to repress the ideas and emotions from the working class. Ideology does this by creating a false consciousness. A false consciousness is an incorrect idea of how capitalism works and how the individual fits into capitalism. Ideology needs to create this false consciousness in order to prevent the working class from seeing the injustices within capitalism and to prevent them from overturning it.

c) An example of an ideology that helps maintain capitalism is the idea that it is horrible and people are lazy if they are unemployed. If people do not have a job our immediate solution is to go out and look for one because it is not hard to get one. However, people commonly fail to realize that capitalism creates unemployment. Capitalists depend on a reserve army of labour that they can hire and fire according to business fluctuations.




- the short definition is accurate and clear


- the concept is elaborated and explained

- the related concepts of mental production, false consciousness, and 'overturning' ('revolution') are discussed and explained as concepts related to ideology.



- the example focuses on a concrete example of an idea, and explains how this idea is ideological


Mark: 4/4

Student Y

4. Division of labour

Division of labour is defined as the process whereby general tasks and roles become increasingly specialized. It is a concept that has been touched on by all sociologists, but in particular Karl Marx elaborates on it. It ties in to his theories involving alienation and exploitation. He claims that the division of labour can be traced back to early family ties where "the wife and children were slaves to the husband." This introduces his stand of gender relations and roles and feminism. As the process of industrialization occurs in societies, tasks become more specialized and individuals become more dependent on each other. These tasks function to materialize wants and needs of individuals.

An example of division of labour can be found at my workplace. I work at McDonald's and usually when we are faced with a lunch rush, we divide the tasks among the workers. One person would be in charge of fries, while the other would be in charge of the burgers, and so forth.

- definition is short and concise; could be elaborated just a tad more

- two related concepts of Karl Marx are connected to the concept being defined. Related concepts from Durkheim could also have been used instead of Marx.

- the concept is further elaborated, with the notion of 'dependency'

- the example is clearly presented and explained.

Mark: 3.5/4

Student Z

5. Religion

The concept of religion comes from the works of Emile Durkheim. Durkheim defined religion as "...a unified system of beliefs and practices that unite in one single moral community, called a Church, all who adhere to them." Durkheim suggested that three requirements were needed to develop a religion: a set of religious beliefs, a set of religious rites and a church. Durkheim studied the Arunta tribe of Australia. He saw them as a primitive society and religion. He felt it would be easier to gain insight into this society because it was more open. It was also less developed and confusing since it was not overshadowed or affected by modernities. He also felt this religion was in its most pristine form and would give insight into modern religion.

Durkheim saw society as the source of religion and saw society forming religion by labeling phenomena as either sacred or profane. Sacred meaning set apart or revered and profane meaning everyday or mundane. He saw Totemism as the most primitive form of religion. Totemism is the idea of seeing plants or animals as sacred. He also believed collective effervescence to play a part in religion. Collective effervescence refers to great moments in history when the collective has raised or heightened the level of collective exaltation to where it impacts and/or changes society and religion. Examples of this would be the Reformation or the Renaissance.

There are many forms of religion today. I agree with Durkheim who stated that while religion was once all-encompassing in society, as society has grown and modernized religion has become more specialized and occupies a more narrow domain. This is especially true of Toronto where Catholic, Christian, Islamic, Greek and other religions exist side by side.


- again, the definition is short, concise, and accurate
- in an exam, citations are not exactly required
- the definition of religion for Durkheim should mention most, if not all, of these elements

- the definition is elaborated, introducing other concepts Durkheim uses to analyze religion

- this is one of Durkheim's main points when he analyzes religion

- another main point
- this distinction is quite central
- the difference between 'sacred' and 'profane' is explained accurately; Totemism and 'collective effervescence' are mentioned and explained

- the example applies Durkheim's analysis to the variety of religions in modern-day Toronto

general comments: This answer covers much more ground in the contextualization section than is necessary. However, all of the information presented is accurate.

Mark: 3.5/4


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