Synthesis and stasis theory
Prompt: Analyze your issue through the perspectives of its stakeholders, using synthesis and stasis theory to identify why the issue is unresolved and locate potential places to intervene in the debate.
Project Description: It is easy to oversimplify issues as black and white, dismissing those we disagree with or turning them into the nameless, faceless opposition. In fact, no issue is simply two-sided, left-and- right, blue-and-red, or right-and-wrong, and all issues affect more than the two loudest voices. For this project, you will research the groups most affected by or invested in your issue and analyze their arguments and motivations. Your task is to find stakeholders who represent the full complexity of the issue. While many stakeholders are active advocates, others may be silent stakeholders, unaware of how the issue impacts them or unable to argue on their own behalf. Therefore, you should choose five stakeholders to research, at least four of whom should be active. Your research should reveal their relationship with the issue (e.g., material, philosophical, personal), their arguments, and their values and beliefs. In your essay, you will explain how the stakeholders’ arguments relate to one another, including how they are speaking at cross-purposes, agreeing but drawing different conclusions, and/or misrepresenting one another.
Rather than making an argument about which stakeholders are correct or which ideas and positions you personally like best, you will explore some of the following questions: What are the ideas or reactions of those involved? Why or how do the different parties disagree with one another? Who is or isn’t able to speak? What are their primary concerns or goals for their ideas or positions? Exploring why each stakeholder acts on or reacts to the issue as they do, you will apply stasis theory to better understand the nature of disagreements among the groups who are weighing in on your issue. Your analysis, then, should synthesize these disagreements in order to characterize the nature of the debate and identify a way to intervene in it. For example, after analyzing the arguments of your stakeholders, you might make the case that many stakeholders in Oklahoma deny climate change is real (stasis of fact) because the economy is dependent on the fossil fuel industry. A point of intervention, therefore, might be to address their economic need, which could be a starting point for Project 3.
Learning and Writing Goals: By learning stasis theory, you will be able to identify and describe when and where people are speaking at cross-purposes or focusing on different aspects of the issue. Analyzing the arguments made by your stakeholders will allow you a fuller understanding of the public debate surrounding the issue, as well as prepare you to tailor your argument in the next essay, which must be written to one of your stakeholders. Doing so will ultimately help you locate potential sites of intervention, identifying whom you need to persuade and how you might go about it in any situation, while also helping to clarify and refine your own views.
Requirements: A successful essay will:
- Identify five relevant stakeholders (four of whom must be active advocates) and analyze their positions
- Be effectively organized around a thesis
- Apply stasis theory to the debate surrounding the issue
- Conduct and synthesize relevant research
- Avoid persuasive argument or premature judgment of differing positions
- Cite all sources in MLA style
- Be 1500-2000 words in length
- Be clear, effectively organized, and carefully edited