Reading Response Journal

For this assignment, you will construct a reading journal to the required, core readings on
the course. These journal responses to the readings will do the following: summarize the
central argument or point of the article in your own words.
Further, and where relevant, the journal entries will examine the themes discussed,
research aims, methods used, key findings, discussion points.
In short, this is a critical response to the weekly readings to show that you understand
what is being said, in your own words.
Five readings responses are required from weeks 1-6. You cannot pick two readings from
the same week. If you do this, only one of them will be graded, reducing overall marks.
Ensure that the five-reading response are relating to a different weekly topic.
Each weekly response should be between 300-400 words.
The final submission should be in the ball park of 1500-2000 words.
The aim of this is to have a body of material generated mid-semester for incorporation into
your longer essay and to help with the overall drafting process.
Specific Guidelines
To develop the summary, do the following:
→ Identify the author and title of the work and include in parentheses the publisher
and publication date.
→ Write an informative summary of the material.
→ Condense the content of the work by highlighting its main points and key
supporting points.
→ Use direct quotations from the work to illustrate important ideas. When using direct
quotations, do include the page number for the citation in accordance with APA
→ Summarize the material so that the reader gets a general sense of all key aspects of
the original work.
→ Do not discuss in great detail any single aspect of the work, and do not neglect to
mention other equally important points.
→ Also, keep the summary objective and factual. Do not include your personal reaction
to the work.
→ Edit the paper carefully for errors in grammar, mechanics, punctuation, word use,
and spelling.
Examples of Reading Journal Entries/Responses
Frankl, Victor (1966). Man’s Search for Meaning. New York: Washington Square
Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning (New York: Washington Square Press,
1966) is both an autobiographical account of his years as a prisoner in Nazi concentration
camps and a presentation of his ideas about the meaning of life. The three years of
deprivation and suffering he spent at Auschwitz and other Nazi camps led to the
development of his theory of Logo therapy, which, very briefly, states that the primary force
in human beings is “a striving to find a meaning in one’s life” (154). Without a meaning in
life, Frankl feels, we experience emptiness and loneliness that lead to apathy and despair.
This need for meaning was demonstrated to Frankl time and again with both himself and
other prisoners who were faced with the horrors of camp existence. Frankl was able to
sustain himself partly through the love he felt for his wife. In a moment of spiritual insight,
he realized that his love was stronger and more meaningful than death, and would be a real
and sustaining force within him even if he knew his wife was dead. Frankl’s comrades also
had reasons to live that gave them strength. One had a child waiting for him; another was a
scientist who was working on a series of books that needed to be finished. Finally, Frankl
and his friends found meaning through their decision to accept and bear their fate with
courage. He says that the words of Dostoevsky came frequently to mind: “There is one
thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my suffering.” When Frankl’s prison experience was
over and he returned to his profession of psychiatry, he found that his theory of meaning
held true not only for the prisoners but for all people. He has since had great success in
working with patients by helping them locate in their own lives meanings of love, work,
and suffering.
Lijphart, Arend. 1997. “Unequal Participation: Democracy’s Unresolved Dilemma.”
The American Political Science Review 91(1):1-14.
Lijphart claims that low-propensity voters disproportionately derive from lower socio economic backgrounds. He reviews a number of research articles that show a decline in
voter participation across Western Democracies and particularly a decline in this
demographic. This inequity presents a serious problem for democracies where it results
not just in unequal turnout, but also in unequal political representation. The aim for
democracies, he says, “should be not just universal suffrage but universal or near-universal
turnout”. Turnout directly affects who comes to power and how they then exert their
power. Government policy is designed to benefit, and appeal to, the demographic that
voted for them. Whilst not explicitly stated by the author, the resultant government policy
perpetuates socio-economic inequality which in turn leads to lower turnout in that group,
election cycle after election cycle. He presents a number of solutions to the problem but
particularly espouses the use of compulsory voting. The established political elite are,
unsurprisingly in his view, opposed to this mechanism of increasing turnout. Whilst he
agrees that compulsory voting would infringe on liberty, he makes the point that it is no
more an infringement than that of jury duty or compulsory schooling, in fact it is arguably
less so. Indeed, he argues that compulsory voting need not mean a duty to cast a vote: it
requires only that citizens present themselves at the polling station at which point citizens
may choose not to exercise their vote, “the right not to vote remains intact”. Lijphart
presents a thorough review of the important literature relating to low-propensity voters
and compulsory voting. His arguments are in favour of this mechanism as an instrument to
increase turnout are persuasive and a deeper understanding of these arguments will be

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