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WRT 101S - Downtown (Graham) Writing I: C: Good community for me?

For Essay #3: Documented argument

Assignment 2A

What other communities are you part of?  In this essay, you will have the opportunity to explore one of your communities.

Assignment: Explore a community to which you belong. Why do you think it is a good or bad community for you?

  • Consider the purpose of the community and what the people in the community do. How do these help explain why this community is or is not a good match for you?
  • What do you need to do to function in this community?
  • What are the explicit rules of the community? What are the unwritten rules of the community?
  • Consider the purpose of the community and what the people in the community do.
  • Do these help explain why this community is or is not a good match for you?

 Note: This is a summary of your assignment. Please refer to full assignment from your instructor.

Stage 1: Brainstorm! List the various communities you belong to. Then choose one for this paper.

At the end of this stage, you will have chosen to research one of the communities that you belong to.

Get a piece of paper and brainstorm. See the examples below, and think of groups that apply to you.

"Named" groups that you belong to BBBBBB Non-named groups with a common interest or activity

Pima Community College students

Engineering majors

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Democratic Party

Halo gaming community

Big Brothers, Big Sisters

Checker Auto Parts employee

Creative Anachronism member

St. Cyril's Catholic Church


Hanging out at the neighborhood bar

iPhone users

Kareoke singer

Soap opera fan

Book club

Extreme fighting fan


Arizona Wildcat basketball fan

Motorcycle club

Yoga class

When you've selected a group (at least tentatively), go to Stage 2.

Stage 2: Analyze this community--identify its purpose, parts, and how they fit together as whole.

When you've finished this stage, you will have analyzed the structure and purpose of the community you belong to.

There is no simple cookie-cutter method for analyzing your community. But consider the following aspects of groups, and try to see how they apply to your case.


  • Does your group have a name?  If so, is the name publicly known, or only to its members?
  • Does the group have a reputation in the larger public community, or is it private?


  • Does the group have a specific purpose?  Is it written or unwritten?
  • Is there disagreement within the group on its basic purpose, or only on the details?

Your relationship to this group

  • How did you become a part of this group or community?  What drew you or influenced your choice?
  • Are you close with certain individuals?  Is this because of common group interests, or just because you turned out to be friends?
  • Have you been a leader, or have you contributed ideas, work, or money to the group?
  • Did you join this group as a stepping stone to something else, or just for its own sake?


  • How did the group originally come to be?  Was it a spontaneous association of people, or did it have founders?
  • Did it begin by splitting off from another group (or by two groups merging)?


  • To become a part of the group, do you formally become a member, as in joining the Army? Or is membership strictly informal, as in a group that normally goes to lunch together?
  • Are you "automatically" a member of the group, based on who you are or what you do?  Or do you have to make a decision to join it?

Inclusion and Exclusion

  • How can you tell who is part of the group and who is not?
  • Does the group actively exclude anyone?
  • Does the group actively seek new members?

Benefits of membership

  • What do you and others gain from being in the group?


  • What is expected of the average group member?
  • Do you need to contribute your time? Your talents? Your money?
  • What happens if a member doesn't live up to the group's expectations?


  • How does the group make decisions, allocate resources, prioritize efforts, and resolve conflicts?
  • Is there a formal leadership structure?  If so, how is it chosen?  What powers and responsibilities are involved?

Social structure

  • Does your group have a hierarchical structure, with some members having higher status than others?
  • If so, is this a formal hierarchy, as in the military, or is it informal, as in cliques of jocks and nerds in high school?
  • Is it possible to earn your way to a higher status?  How?
  • If your group does NOT have a hierarchy, does it divide into any sub-groups or have side-conversations?

Threats or challenges

  • Does your group have important internal weaknesses? Lack of purpose or direction?  Lack of resources?  Lack of new members?
  • Are there external threats to your group? Other interests that pull people away? Enemies? Changing environments?

Future directions

  •  Where is your group headed?  Any plans, hopes, dreams?
  • Do you, yourself, have hopes for the group, whether or not these are shared by others?

When you've analyzed the purpose and structure of your group, go to Stage 3.

Stage 3: What about you? What is your function in this community?

When you finish this stage, you will have written about your reason for being in this community and what you hope to accomplish within it.

You have described the community in Stage 2.  Now describe yourself in relation to the community.  You might consider some of the following questions.

Which of the following kinds of personal goals are relevant to this community?  How does this community relate to the goals?  Do they further them or hinder them?  How so?

  • Career/occupational goals
  • Educational goals
  • Social/friendship goals
  • Relationship/romantic/marriage/family goals
  • Political/ideological/charitable goals
  • Recreational/fun goals
  • Other goals

What can you contribute to this community?  What strengths, talents, or interests can you apply to it?

What do you need to "work on"?  What personal weaknesses, deficits or needs do you to have that this community might help with (or make worse)?

When you've outlined your personal relationship to the community go to Stage 4.

Stage 4: How do the community's goals and qualities match your own?

When you've finished this stage, you will have compared what the community requires (and has to offer) with what you are hoping for (and what you can offer the community).

  • Open the Community Match PDF at the bottom of this Stage 4 box.  A modified sample is shown below.
  • Print it out.  Then, fill out the table.

When you've selected a group (at least tentatively), go to Stage 5.

Stage 5: Developing your thesis and argument

Ok.  Look at your Community Match worksheet. What does all this reflection mean for your paper?

What is your thesis?

  • Is this a good community for you, or not?  Your answer to this question basically become your thesis.

What is your argument for this?

  • Why is it a good match (or not)?
  • Your argument should discuss the benefits and downsides, and weigh them.
  • You should also anticipate doubts in your reader's mind, and deal with them effectively.

So far, most of your information has come directly from your involvement with this community.  To make a stronger case, you need to find other objective information that fills in the details or corrects you misimpressions.

Based on your initial sketch of your argument, what questions do you need to answer?


  • For a formal organization, have you researched its history, leadership structure, legal difficulties, financial position, etc.?
  • For an informal association, have you researched alternative groups that might do the same thing--only better?
  • Have you interviewed a long-time member of the organization--to see his or her view on the question?
  • Have you gathered statistics or objective reporting on the accomplishments your community is known for?

Follow up on these questions in Stage 6.

Stage 6: Seek specialized information about your community (or about similar communties) to support your analysis.

By the end of this stage, you will have found specialized sources to support your argument.

Click here to open a hidden tab for MegaSearch

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