Sociology essay | Education homework help

Janis Ian (born Janis Eddy Fink, April 7, 1951) is a Grammy Award-winning American songwriter and singer.



Born to a Jewish family in New York City, she was raised initially on a farm, and attended East Orange High School and the New York City High School of Music & Art. Her parents, Victor and Pearl, ran a summer camp in upstate New York, and, in that Cold War era, were frequently under government surveillance because of their left-wing politics (Ian would allude to this years later in her song “God and the FBI”).  At the age of twelve, Ian wrote her first song, “Hair of Spun Gold,” which was recorded for her debut album. At age thirteen, she legally changed her name to Janis Ian, her new last name being her brother Eric’s middle name.


High School

At the age of fourteen, Ian was signed to a recording contract with Atlantic Records.  Two years later she had a national hit single with “Society’s Child”, but she recalled in her autobiography that her growing fame made her time in high school difficult, as her teachers frequently made snide comments about her budding career and, despite her achieving good grades on exams, failed her in many subjects due to her frequent absences to perform.  She later dropped out of the High School of Music and Art.


Singing Career

Her most successful single in the United States was “At Seventeen,” released in 1975.  “At Seventeen” was a smash, receiving tremendous acclaim from critics and record buyers alike — it charted at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It even won the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female. Ian performed “At Seventeen” as a musical guest on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975.  The album was quickly certified Gold and later earned a ‘Platinum’ certification for sales of over one million copies sold in the US. Another measure of her success is anecdotal – on Valentine’s Day 1977, Ian received 461 Valentine cards, having indicated in the lyrics to “At Seventeen” that she never received any as a teenager. “At Seventeen” can also be heard playing in the background in the 2004 movie Mean Girls.


She still sings; she lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Janis Ian Exercise — “At Seventeen”




Adolescent development

Authority (Milgram)

Beauty Myth


Conformity (Asch)

Cross-cultural sociology

Deviance (Durkheim)



Groupthink (Janis)

In-groups and Out-groups

Labeling theory (Becker)

Peer pressure

Pop culture

Primary Groups (Cooley)

Reality is socially constructed (Mead, also Berger)

Reference group theory (Stouffer)

Role Strain

“Self” versus the “Other” (Mead, Parsons)

Small group dynamics

Social class

Social status and privilege

Janis Ian exercise — Analysis of “At Seventeen”




Integrative Assignment:



Please write a well-organized essay not to exceed three pages using the folk song “At Seventeen” (by Janis Ian) to illustrate and highlight concepts from the sociology theory and discussion we have had in this course to date.


Try to incorporate as many of the sociological concepts and theories (shown on the previous page) that are relevant to the song, and the story told by the song.  Let me know that you know what each theory means and how it fits into, or is relevant to the song.


Do not just list theories.  Do not simply define theories.


Try to marry up a theory or a concept with something from the song – from the “real world”.  Outline your thoughts before writing them up.


Try to do a really good job on 7 or 8 theories or concepts, rather than a poor job on 20 of them.




Hand in your essay, your notes, and all materials for review by the Professor.


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