Write a critical, expository paper relating the origins of baseball and its development in the 19th and early 20th centuries to the writings of Marx/Engels or Weber. You should make an argument about whether the ideas of one and only one of the writers mainly explain or do not explain some important aspects of the development of baseball during this period, using evidence from early baseball history to critically evaluate their ideas.
There are several key parts to this paper. Your thesis should appear in your introductory paragraph and state whether some specific concepts or arguments of the theorist mainly explain or mainly do not explain the specific aspects of baseballâ€™s history you choose to discuss. In the body of your paper, please demonstrate your understanding of the concepts and theoretical arguments of one of these writers. This will involve identifying, defining, paraphrasing, and illustrating the key theoretical ideas related to your thesis. Please also give empirical examples that support your claims about the theoretical ideas you address, using evidence from the historical readings assigned in class: Rader or Seymour, or both. (You may also use information provided from videos or lecture, but you must address Rader and/or Seymour). If you are making a claim, for instance, that early baseball mainly followed Marx/Engelsâ€™s ideas of class formation, provide direct evidence for this claim.
None of the theories will perfectly explain how baseball developed, or will be completely unhelpful in explaining it. Therefore, after you provide the evidence for your thesis, please provide a counterpoint. If you are arguing that the ideas of Marx/Engels regarding how capitalists compete mainly explain the commercialization of baseball, for instance, please indicate in a paragraph one way or some minor ways in which you think his ideas do not apply or do not help us to understand commercialization in baseball. (If you are arguing that the ideas mainly do not apply, please indicate at least one minor way in which they do apply.) Again, please give empirical examples from the readings on baseball.
Please end your paper with a concluding paragraph that returns to your thesis, but goes beyond it in explaining why you think a theoristâ€™s ideas work well, but only go so far in explaining aspects of baseballâ€™s history, or why you think the theoristâ€™s ideas mainly do not work well to explain developments in baseball, despite the fact that they help to explain or illuminate other social processes. (You can assume that the theorist’s ideas explain other social processes; you do not need to discuss it in your paper.)
Some potential topics include the following: Do Marx/Engelsâ€™s ideas mainly explain the development of baseball as a business, including competition among capitalists, the development of the forces of production, the rise of free labor, and the organization of workers against capitalists? Do Marx/Engelsâ€™s ideas about the labor process, including exploitation, alienation, and impoverishment, mainly explain what happens in the early history of baseball? Do Weberâ€™s ideas about rationalization and bureaucratization help us understand the development and evolution of baseballâ€™s organizational form and playing techniques? Did players mainly become â€œprofessionalizedâ€ according to Weberâ€™s concept of it?