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The joy of essays - any general tips

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
So, I've got my essay and it's coming together really nicely. It's due for hand in wednesday midday so I've left it late (was really elated after exams so didn't get much done on the weekend!). Referencing is a bit of a chore though, because there may be a concept more than one scholar refers to (I've 11 sources for a 2000 word essay!), except from slightly different perspectives, and I don't really have time to discuss all of them. Late night rant.

I'm assuming it's probably better to be critical later on during the analysis and evaluative stages and then draw lots of different perspectives in, and in the introductorary / definition / 'setting the scene' part just rip the guys' descriptions? I've put them in my own word, then after each definition of power (since there are many different perspectives on power) I have about 3 references. It just seems 'reference heavy'. Or is that usual with an essay?

As I may have mentioned, I've not written a proper essay for years so I'm trying to get this one right. Any general tips? In rough breakdown of the paper should it be something like 15% knowledge, 35% analysis and 50% evaluation / implications?


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'd be careful with putting things others have said into your own words if I was you, you don't want to get done for plagiarism. If it sounds too a like to the source that you have got it from then just quote that source in the essay, there's nothing wrong with doing that.

    As for the essay itself make sure you have a plan before you start. That way you will make sure you've maintained a decent structure throughout.

    As for referencing we are always told that a decent bibliography looks a lot better. If you don't have many books or articles then go to the library and write relevant ones down to bulk it up.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    what exactly is the title of your essay? i think most of my essays have always been critical all the way through. in the sense of challenging the views rather than criticising.

    your intro sounds fine - have you included what you'll be discussing in the essay?

    different unis/tutors like different styles to be honest, mine always gave me a lot of detail about what they wanted in the essay so if they have said anything to you definitely listen!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    We got told it's academic misconduct if we put books we don't reference! Anyway, I've got an impressive bibliography for a 2000 word essay:

    Akella, D. (2003). A Question of Power: How does Management Retain It? Vikalpa , 28 (3), 45-56.
    Bachrach, P., & Baratz, M. S. (1962). Two Faces of Power. The American Political Science Review , 56 (4), 947-952.
    Clegg, S. R., Courpasson, D., & Phillips, N. (2006). Power and Organisations. SAGE Publications Ltd.
    Kotter, J. P., & Keskett, J. L. (1992). Corporate Culture and Performance. The Free Press.
    May, T. (1999). From Banana Time to Just-In-Time: Power and Resistance at Work. Sociology , 33 (4), 767-783.
    Poggi, G. (2001). Forms of Power. Blackwell Publishers Inc.
    Skalník, P. (1999). Authority versus power: a view from social anthropology. In A. Cheater, The Anthropology of Power: Empowerment and disempowerment in changing structures (pp. 163-174). London: Routledge.
    Stewart, A. (2001). Theories of Power and Domination. SAGE Publications Inc.
    Thompson, N. (2007). Power and empowerment. Russel House Publishing.
    Watson, T. (2006). Organising and Managing Work. Pearson Education.
    Wilson, D. C., & Rosenfeld, R. H. (1990). Managing Organisations. McGraw-Hill.

    That I've exhaustively read over christmas, I've got a plan but I keep changing it. Basically it's back to front. Normally, the definition is pretty straightforward, i.e. my last essay about scientific management - its got a textbook definition and easy to do.

    What is power? Different scholars from different fields argue about what it is, whether they're socialists who think that power is held by a few to oppress the majority (see marx), or political scientists who have argued that power is distributed between society, and anyone who 'wields' power i.e. those in government must also have legitimacy, otherwise people will ignore them. This gives those at the bottom as much power as those at the top, even if socialists argue politicians / monarchs / managers always get their way - political scientists (as May calls them, anyway) argue that they are prevented from bringing up ideas because they know they will lose their power. Socialists come back to the fact that for generations the same people have been at the top regardless and continue to get to the top where they go to the best schools, get the best jobs and have the most influence while those at the bottom are underpaid and exploited with no chance of escaping the 'rat race'.

    But I could write a whole essay on that, and miss the point which is to discuss this case study with relation to literature on power. It's pretty open ended. No title as such, I haven't come up with one yet. It'll probably be something like 'Conflicts of power in management / organisations'. I want to make an assumption on what defines power but that's the sticky bit - the later bits I can do but even now there is a gap between people's ideas. My brother has advised me to just pick what I can write more about / is easier, but I'd feel a bit like a fraud. ATM I'm just waffling on about all the different schools of thought and I feel a bit like it's out of context, though I suppose it is evidence of wider reading.

    No doubt it won't be the first time I have to talk about some concept that isn't well defined and there are lots of different theories about it...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Just be careful around your definition of what is power man - Socialists may see how power is distributed and how it is used differently to other political views - but they wouldn't necessarily see power itself as different.

    For example a libertarian would probably see power as the ability to control one's own world and economic output - something a socialist wouldn't disagree with, or a capitalist. The disagreement is more likely to come in question of how power, autonomy and freedom are distributed throughout a society.

    But anyway I guess that answers your question from my point of view about what defines power - to me it's ultimately a level of economic control within a country - and I'd be surprised to see a Keynesian economist, an Ayn Rand following objectivist or a staunch Freedman inspired conservative disagree.

    As to how power is gained, how it's distributed... deserved... well that's a different issue.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Though you could probably argue that some political views see power as economic (libertarian, socialist) whereas other see power as the ability to control themselves or others above economic power (possibily fascism? anarchy?)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Shyboy, I notice a curious absence of Foucault in your bibliography... Not a management book, but he's done a lot of work on power from a more anthropological viewpoint. I know it's too late now as your essay is submitted, but maybe for future reference?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've referenced him, but in other books. Essay due in tomorrow ;). I got books over christmas to read, and hadn't heard of him then unfortunately, though he is referenced a lot.

    Anyway, less talk more work. I don't wanna discuss the ins and outs too much lest I get in trouble, more getting my head around all the possible interpretations. There are just so many more angles than the last essay I did which was fairly straightfoward (what is scientific management, how can it be used, should it be used, merits / faults, etc.) I've defined power loosely already, but I really need to go in depth a bit more. But that's my work to get on with ;)
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