Causal Analysis Essay
Overview of Assignment:
You will write a causal analysis, a type of essay in which you either: a) identify a particular phenomenon and discuss the resulting effects, or b) identify a particular phenomenon and discuss the underlying causes. In other words, you can discuss a cause that leads to several effects or an effect that has several causes. In either case, be sure to address the stakes of your analysis, answering the question, “Why should I care?”
In one (or at the most two) paragraph(s) introduce your topic. Give a brief summary of your essay in a few sentences. Remember to include a thesis statement that specifically sets out what you are proving to be true regarding the causes of the situation. This is your enthymeme: your evaluative claim and your causal claim. It should be specific, logical, and clear.
History/Background to Current Situation:
This section should take as much space as needed—a few to several paragraphs. Discuss the significant and relevant history of your topic up to the current situation and how it came to be. Use research as needed to give precise and accurate background for context in making your later causal argument. Comment on your research as well, so that you don’t lose your voice. As you explore other points of view, your own point of view will evolve in significant ways.
Once you have given a brief history/background of the current situation, evaluate the situation as it is at present. Again, use research to support your judgments. While this section of your essay could run anywhere from one to three paragraphs, typically one paragraph is the norm, as you are basically passing judgment on the situation, arguing. This is an argument of pathos and logos, predominantly.
This is the longest portion of your essay, the “meat,” the heart of your work. Once you have detailed the history/background of the current situation and evaluated the current situation, you are ready to present your causal analysis. Demonstrate a link between the current situation and the causes for its condition. Of course, you will use current significant and relevant research to support your causal claim, and you will want to find as many logical causes for the current situation as possible. Remember to use specific supporting detail/examples, and to analyze all of your research thoroughly and with clarity.
Counterargument and Rebuttal:
There will be many who disagree with you so you will want to acknowledge their points of view. What are their assumptions about this topic? What questions do they raise for consideration? Acknowledging other points of view gives your essay credibility and shows that you have been fair and broad in your inquiry and presentation. (You will need at least one credible source to represent at least one counterargument.) Then explain how you have considered this counterargument, but still find your own analysis to be more logical and accurate; this is your rebuttal.
Summarize the meaningful conclusions you have drawn clearly and precisely.
Please also ponder these questions as you progress through your research and project work:
What assumptions did you have about this topic coming into the project?
Have some of those assumptions been challenged? Have some been validated?
What questions do you still have about your issue?
What questions have you been able to answer through your inquiry?
About your audience:
What questions does your audience have about your topic? What points of view do they represent?
What information do you want to provide to help answer those questions?
How has pursuing the best information in a fair and honest, ethical, and logical manner allowed you to show respect for your audience as well as yourself as a thinker?
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