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Write My Paper Advise: Outlining My Paper When I am assigned a paper to write I always make sure that I begin the process by creating an outline. An outline means that when I actually sit down to write my paper, I have a strong idea of how I want to compose my paper and what I want my paper to say. The most important part of an outline, as well as the most important part of a paper itself. Is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is so important because this statement is the argument that the paper is written about. The thesis statement is the focus of the paper, and so basing the outline that I write around the thesis statement makes it much easier for me to actually write my paper when the time comes. I outline my paper with a steady focus on the argument I want to make when I write my paper, and with a focus on how I will support that argument. Supporting my argument means I need to use academically sound research as evidence in favor of my argument. This means that while I am creating my outline, I am researching from at least three academic publications. I use each body paragraph to highlight one piece of evidence from one of these academic publications. Once I have outlined the quotes and evidence I want to pull from my academic publications, I can move onto outlining the conclusion. The conclusion of my outline is essentially a restatement of the thesis statement and the three (or more) pieces of evidence supporting that argument. With that, my outline is completed and the writing of my paper is made significantly easier. Write My Paper Advice: Starting My Paper I always start my papers the same way – I do research out determine the argument I want to make about a given topic. Whether I am assigned a topic by a professor or teacher, or am allowed to choose my own topic on which to write my paper, I make sure that I complete this research. I do my research so that when it comes time for me to actually write my paper, I am prepared with what I want to argue and how I want to state my argument. The thesis statement of my paper is based on the argument that I want to make in my paper. Therefore, I need to write my paper around that argument. In order to do that I need to fully understand not only my topic but also the argument that I am making about that topic. Once I have come upon my argument, the creation of an outline around my topic is significantly easier. This is so because once I have conducted my research, I can understand all the sides of my argument, and am better able to write about it. Understanding the viewpoints that exist in the academic work on the topic for which I am arguing, ensures that when I write my paper, I do so from a sound and academically rigorous perspective. The research that I conduct prior to creating an outline or writing my paper means that when I actually sit down to write the final product, my paper is easier to compose. Capstone papers are probably one of the most difficult papers to write in college, whether at the Bachelor's, Masters or Doctoral level. Some programs make it a requirement for graduation and some professors require a Capstone paper in order to complete a specialized class. These papers are often the culmination of your program of study. Your professor may designate a topic or may require you to choose a topic that meets his or her approval.
Important tip: Make sure to select a topic or thesis statement that has plenty of information and research available on the subject.
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“American Christmas” and the Effects of Consumerism
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as millions of Americans spend their holiday season engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the next-door neighbor over a discounted video game console at WalMart or a sample sale at Prada or Gucci, keeping eyes in the backs of their respective heads, lest someone beats them to the cashier, thereby interfering with their holiday retail therapy. For a modern nation state whose predecessors were originally barred from celebrating the holiday, Christmas has come a long way in America. Indeed, the concept of an “American Christmas” as distinct from the forms of the holiday celebrated elsewhere, has emerged to define the consumerist mentality with which most Americans approach the Christmas holiday. While this socio-cultural branding ensures that Christmas will always be celebrated, at least as long as “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” remain, it is unclear how the materialism with we approach it impacts our physiological and social well-being.
In exploring why we feel the need for a materialized Christmas, we can hopefully arrive at an understanding of American Christmas that either redeems us from the seemingly shallow manner in which we conduct it or simply confirms that it wouldn’t be Christmas if we couldn’t consume the world’s natural and material resources in vast quantities. It is possible that Christmas has evolved within our materialistic social order to represent an opportunity for self-indulgence, as opposed to socio-religious merry-making. In other words, it may be that we have simply determined that Christmas exists as an opportunity to increase our happiness levels through doing those things that make us most happy—giving and receiving gifts, donating to charity and, generally, simply acquiring or providing for things that neither we nor the less fortunate have, but which we all very much want.
For our modern purposes, the increased consumerism with which Americans approach the Christmas Holiday is best illustrated through the American conception of Santa Claus, with a kind of “secular version of Christ” who operates in the “realm…of material abundance” (Belk 83). And Americans have not only sought to derive benefits from Santa Claus’s generosity, but have also rendered “the Christmas season…a key element of the US economy, with an estimated 1/6 of all retail sales occurring due to Christmas.” Indeed, “Americans report spending about $800 on Christmas gifts, and many consumers are still in debt 6 months later as a result of this spending” (Kasser & Kennon 314). And yet, “[N]either spending a relatively large percentage of one’s income or going into substantial debt related to having a merrier Christmas” for the majority of Americans (Kasser & Kennon 322). Why then does this outrageous spending and consumption of natural resources occur in and around Christmas time?
To be sure, Kasser and Kennon did find that “[W]hile apparently at odds with the bulk of messages in America’s consumerist, capitalistic society…well-being is low when materialistic values and experiences are relatively central to people’s lives” (Kasser & Kennon 324). This finding all the more perplexes with regard to why Americans nevertheless pursue such materialistic ills as the Christmas season approaches each year. Belk begins to explain thisphenomenon by pointing to the unique character of American Christmas in that its origins cannot be gleaned or understood from a comparison with various forms of European Christmas celebrations:
“This lack of continuity is partly due to one of the first backlashes against Christmas. This reaction arose among the religious immigrants to the American colonies. As Barnett (1954) notes, Puritan reaction against the "wanton Bacchanalian feast" of Christmas led these colonists to begin shunning the holiday as early as 1620. By 1659, the colony of Massachusetts had passed an ordinance to fine anyone caught observing Christmas by abstaining from labor, feasting, or other celebration” (Belk 3).
As such, the modern materialism of American Christmas seems to have its roots in a kind of rejection of the nation’s Puritan ideals and an embracement of the kind of hedonism that has come to dominate the modern socio-cultural landscape. Is the modern consumerism of Christmas then little more than a means toward a self-destructive Bacchanalian end?
Kasser and Kennon suggest a kind of breakdown in the familial infrastructure of the American Family as having provoked a rise in spending habits, associating this rise with a decline in family values (Kasser & Kennon 324). Belk, however, suggests that something might be gleaned from the evolution of the American conception of Santa Claus, which should function as an amalgam of previously conceived Christmas patriarchs, but which instead amounts to a unique conception of Santa Claus designed toward promoting a “rags to riches” ethos (Belk 329). In this sense, American consumption habits during the Christmas Holiday season may simply be an unconsciousness reflection of American desire to emulate the Horatio Alger “rags-to-riches” narrative. Indeed, Belk even suggests that to fail to spend in overwhelming fashion during the Christmas season is to fail to honor this ideal.
Belk’s research indicates a disturbing trend in American consumerism with regard to Christmas and the manner in which Americans celebrate it: where consumption becomes the ends, as opposed to the means, of celebrating, a kind of destructive socio-cultural phenomenon begins to rear its ugly head (Belk 337). However, though Belk does not state so, there is an extent to which the consumptive impulse is not entirely antithetical to human nature. Marx proposes, for example, that humans must be permitted the opportunity to exercise dominion over natural and physical resources, as only by these means can the human condition evolve within a socio-cultural infrastructure of its own making, thereby distinguishing the human condition from the natural or physical order of things. Then again, however, this exercise of dominion is conceived of by Marx as a means to a human socio-cultural end, whereas Belk seems to suggest that on Christmas, it is treated both as a means and an end.
To this end, Kasser and Kennon suggest that the consumption phenomenon is but a means toward happiness. In describing their finding and its potential implications, we hit upon a difficulty in their approach:
“Consistent with our assumption that the same types of behaviors that benefit the environment are also good for people’s well-being, we found that individuals who engaged in more environmentally friendly consumption behaviors were more satisfied during the holiday. Thus, by diminishing the negative environmental impacts of their Christmas consumption practices, people may be able to experience more happiness” (Kasser & Kennon 325).
This position, of course, simply presumes that the excessive consumption, as opposed to the manner in which this consumption bears upon availability of family time, is itself the source of some Christmas-time unhappiness. Accordingly, consumption should not be viewed as somehow mutually exclusive of that which Kasser and Kennon believe does found happiness at Christmas time; namely, the engagement of socio-familial ties.
As such, Kasser and Kennon seem to miss that which Belk identifies: that spending and the act of gift-giving is itself a means of effectuating the social bonds through which people have come to be associated. While Belk correctly identifies a point at which these means tend to obfuscate their intended ends, the means of spending, consuming and, ultimately, providing for the self and others has evolved into our mode of “merry-making.” Indeed, even Kasser and Kennon recognize that those who attempt to limit their spending during the Christmas season are invariably less happy than their free-spending counterparts (Kasser & Kennon 325). While this phenomenon may be a function of how deeply materialistic we have become, it may also be a function of an anxiousness associated with failing to provide for the people most important in one’s life, especially at the time of the year when such provisioning is most appropriate.
What emerges then is that American Christmas, as per Belk and as celebrated this day in age, is an effectuation of Americans’ impetus to cast off the shackles in which they were socially enslaved prior to the colonization of what is today the United States of America. In other words, after being deprived of the opportunity to celebrate the Christmas Holiday, and thus share in family merry-making, American consumption during Christmas increases as a reactionary response to this previous inhibition; we now spend all the more so, after having been denied the socio-cultural value inherent in celebration for so long. Far from a rebellion against our Puritanical roots, the manner in which we materialize at Christmas time is an expression that serves to reinvigorate and affirm these roots.
Nevertheless, as Kasser and Kennon point out, in the pursuit of Christmas materialism, American consumption of natural resources results in an estimated 5 Million extra tons of trash between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year (Kasser & Kennon 318). To some extent, this reality is an illustration of the manner in which Americans tend to consume, but it is not necessarily an illustration of unhealthy consumption of resources, especially within the context of Marxian philosophy. Moreover, Kasser and Kennon are unable to trace the habit of material consumption directly to some kind of general unhappiness of debauched morality, but only to the point of suggestiveness with regard to shallow impulses. Mankind has felt such impulses since time immemorial. That they would be felt more deeply during the holiday season is possible, but it also may be that the urge to provide for one’s family, as hinted at by Belk, is at the hear of American consumption habits, at least as applied to the Christmas season.
It is inevitable that American Christmas will continue to represent the kind of “Bacchanalia” and general immorality for which our Puritan ancestors saw it. To some extent, the materialism associated with the manner in which we spend and consume cannot be denied as suggestive of a deeper moral dilemma; one partly bearing on the fashion in which we interact with our natural order. And yet, to interact with this order for the purpose of cultivating or better effectuating our socio-cultural mechanisms is to make-merry, as we are expected to do during the Christmas Season. It may be unfortunate that our social connections are now expressed through the giving or receiving of gifts, but this is not to say that we are any less committed to the “true meaning” of Christmas. Indeed, from a purely Utilitarian perspective, this kind of spending is the kind that keeps on giving, even beyond the socio-familial context, in that it strengthens the American economy for many years to come.
Belk, Russell W. "Materialism and the Modern U.S. Christmas," SV- Interpretive Consumer Research, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 1989. 115-135.
Belk, Russell W. "Materialism and the Making of the Modern American Christmas."Unwrapping Christmas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print.