building an argument
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DESCRIPTIONBuilding an Argument. How to write analytically. Outline. Structure Description vs. Argumentation & Analysis Fact & Evidence vs. Opinion Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research Nuance and Persuasion. 1. Structure. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Skills development lectures
Building an ArgumentHow to write analytically1
What are the overall characteristics of a good essay?
What does a paragraph need?
How do you support your argument?
How do you convince your reader?Class Activity: What makes a good argumentative essay?2OutlineStructure
Description vs. Argumentation & Analysis
Fact & Evidence vs. Opinion
Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research
Nuance and Persuasion
31. StructureHow does Mahmood Mamdani explain mass participation in the 1994 Rwandan genocide? Do you find his arguments convincing? If so, why?
41. StructureOverall structure is important!
Introductions provide an initial roadmap to your argument Introductions should contain:1-2 lead-in sentencesA clear thesis statementA brief outline of your argument5When one is asked to give an example of genocide, they are likely to give the holocaust during World War II as their example. While the holocaust is recognized as one of the most inhumane events in history, it should be known that Rwanda genocide in 1994 was more efficient than the holocaust. The Rwandan genocide took place between April 6th and July 1994 and lasted a mere 100 days, but during those 100 days the death toll rose to an estimated 800,000 (BBC). In mathematical terms, the Rwanda genocide was three times more effective then the Holocaust in terms of deaths during its length of time. This genocide was lead by Hutu Power, a group of Hutu extremists, against the Tutsi. One of the most interesting facts about the Rwandan genocide is the mass participation that the Hutu Power was able to attract in the genocide. In the novel, When Victims becomes Killers, author Mahmood Mamdani argues that the mass participation of the genocide was caused because of politics. Mahmood Mamdani states that the conflict in politics in the past between the Hutu and Tutsi was a continual problem between the ethnic groups, which eventually lead to the Rwandan genocide.
Introductions Exhibit A6Popular mass participation during the 1994 Rwandan genocide has been a topic of great academic debate since the genocide ended. Several theorists have attempted to establish why so many Hutus, who had never killed before, engaged in the mass murder of nearly one million Tutsis. This essay will critically analyse Mahmood Mamdanis argument that the genocide was mainly a result of the political manipulation of Hutu fears of a return to servitude under the Tutsi. Both the strengths and the weaknesses will be highlighted. Furthermore, alternatives to Mamdanis argument, which Mamdani downplays, will be discussed in order to support the critiques. The alternatives which will be explored in this essay are: the effects of the 1970s economic crisis, cultural factors, and finally, the role of Hutu-on-Hutu violence. This essay ultimately concludes that while Mamdani provides a strong explanation for mass participation, his downplaying of several other important factors weakens his argument significantly.
Introductions Exhibit B7Have a look at Exhibit B and make a brief outline of the students essay. What is she going to argue, and what part of her argument is she going to make in each paragraph?
Thesis Statement:Paragraph 1:Paragraph 2:Paragraph 3:Paragraph 4:Paragraph 5:ConclusionClass Activity Introductions and Outlines81. StructureAn Analytical Essay would look like this: Introduction.1. Brief summary of main authors argument.2. Main authors strong points analyse and support with other authors and context/background.3. Point of weakness 1 criticise using other authors, background and context.4. Point of weakness 2 criticise using other authors, background and context5. Point of weakness 3 criticise using other authors, background and contextConclusion91. StructureAvoid descriptive essays! A prime example of a descriptive structure would be something like this:Intro1. The history of the conflict2. Summary of Main Author argument3. Summary of Supplementary Author X4. Summary of Supplementary Author Y5. Analysis Conclusion
101. StructureEvery argument is made up of sub-arguments, e.g. in order to argue that Mamdani has downplayed certain factors, the previous student has to convincingly argue that these factors are importantSub-arguments come in two types:A. Supporting your main argument with logic and evidence giving credibility to your positionB. Supporting your main argument by discrediting someone elses opposing/alternative argument with logic and evidence
11What was the main cause of the RUF insurgency in Sierra Leone?
Thesis statement: pick one cause
Sub-arguments A: Make points supported by evidence in favour of your cause
Sub-arguments B: Make points supported by evidence that discredit alternative causal explanations
Paragraph 1:Paragraph 2:Paragraph 3:Paragraph 4:Class Activity Make an Outline122. Description vs. Argumentation & AnalysisYou need to support every single claim you make in your argument with:Factual evidenceOther authors arguments
In any case, you need to make explicitly clear why any point you make is relevant to your argument. Each point should close off with a magical So What?-Sentence.
NEVER ASSUME YOUR AUDIENCE KNOWS WHY SOMETHING YOU BRING UP IS IMPORTANT MAKE YOUR TRAIN OF THOUGHT, AND EVERY POINTS RELEVANCE EXPLICIT!13Background is required to understand the Rwandan genocide. The social structure that was present prior to the genocide is a by-product of the Belgian colonial system that had been handed down the native people. That of ethnic separation (Mamdani 2001 : 190). Before colonisation, it was a unified community, whereby neither religion nor politics sought to divide Hutu from Tutsi. Economically, they both indulged in pastoral agricultural activities. The emergence of the colonial system was the introduction of a religious and scientifically based domination of the Hutu under the politically powerful Tutsi. Biblical tales sought to justify the divide and rule tactic that was implemented by the Belgians (Mamdani 2001: 191). Moreover, the kingship of Rwabugiri institutionalized ethnicity when prior to that all Rwandans were categorised under the term Badusi. It was also a period of Tutsi power and Hutu oppression. It was believed that the Tutsi were an alien race to the Rwandan topography and not a minority ethnicity. [moves on to next point]
Using factual information Exhibit A14According to Mamdani the Civil War played a pivotal role in not only entrenching colonial ideas of race groups but also creating opposing political identities. The Habyarimana regime entered the war pledged to a policy of ethnic reconciliation and came out of it pledged to a policy of Hutu Power (Mamdani, 2001:185). The Hutu Power radicals in the Rwandan government used the RPF attack in 1990 to reinforce these political identities and it is this foundation which made mass participation possible (Mamdani, 2001:185).
Using factual information Exhibit B152. Description vs. Argumentation & AnalysisA crude example:
NOT a good point: Mamdani underplays the cultural dynamics of the genocide, because Fuji (2008) says so.
A good point: Fuji (2008) has shown the importance of cultural factors in the genocide. For example [case xyz]. Without this dynamic, mass participation would have been a lot more unlikely, because it appears to have been a major factor that pressured people to take part. Mamdani does not give this enough credit.
The good point demonstrates the authors argument with an example/evidence, i.e. it SHOWS that it is valid, rather than just CLAIMING that it is. it explains why it is relevant to the students own argument the magical So What?!-Sentence163. Fact & Evidence vs. OpinionWith defeat looming on the horizon, the Hutu Power tendency differentiated even further: the genocidal tendency was born of the crisis of Hutu Power (Mamdani, 2001: 185).
173. Fact & Evidence vs. OpinionWhen things go terribly wrong students present other authors opinions as facts subscribe uncritically to someone elses weak arguments misrepresent an authors argument and twist it out of shape to support their own viewpoint
Sometimes, this is done inadvertently be careful how you phrase things!
18At the core of the ideology of Hutu Power was the conviction that the Tutsi were a race alien to Rwanda, and not an indigenous ethnic group. The shift in political vocabulary was a return to the vision of the colonial period. That the Tutsi were a race not indigenous to Rwanda was both central to colonial ideology and a key idea that had propelled forward the 1959 Revolution. (Mamdani, 2001: 190).
- What is Mamdani reiterating here? A fact or an opinion?Class Activity Fact vs. Opinion19Student A: Moreover, the kingship of Rwabugiri institutionalized ethnicity when prior to that all Rwandans were catergorised under the term Badusi. It was also a period of Tutsi power and Hutu oppression. It was believed that the Tutsi were an alien race to the Rwandan topography and not a minority ethnicity (Mamdani, 2001: 190).
Student B: The Tutsi were an alien group in Rwanda, so the Hutu felt threatened and oppressed in their own country, which worked as a catalyst leading up to the genocide (Mamdani, 2001: 190).Reiterating Mamdanis point204. Quantitative vs. Qualitative ResearchSome Common Assumptions
Quantitative Research isQualitative Research isMore scientific
More methodologically rigorous
Less methodologically rigorous214. Quantitative vs. Qualitative ResearchWhen looking at Quantitative Research, ask yourselfWhat are the assumptions behind the approach to the issue?What sorts of