Municipal Waste Disposal As Social And Ecological Issue Sample Paper


Nowadays, when the volumes of produced waste emphasize the need for the use of appropriate solid waste disposal techniques, it is considered that waste incineration serves as a good alternative to landfill methods as it decreases the volume of waste and takes smaller space (Hu, Li, Nguyen, & Kavan, 2015). Nevertheless, it has some serious disadvantages including air pollution and excess production of ash, which can adversely impact the health of city residents. Therefore, the selection of proper locations for waste incineration plants is of great importance as it can be argued that their situation in the city area is highly detrimental. The suggested study will aim to ban the location of the waste incineration industry within the urban zones. Since the topic covers both social and environmental issues, the core disciplines employed during the research will include sociology and environmental/natural science.


“Sociology is a discipline that makes it possible to see how individual experiences…are connected to the wider society” (Eastern Kentucky University, 2018, para. 1). It studies specific social processes such as distributive relations, interactions between different people and population groups, etc. What is especially important for the proposed study is that within the given discipline it is possible to investigate the processes that take place not only in the society but also in other spheres of life, including ecological situations. There is a plethora of sociological research methods aimed to capture a process of interest. They may be exploratory, analytical, and descriptive. The main tools include surveys, interviews, experiences, participant observation, field research, and case study (Little & McGivern, n.d.).

Environmental Science

One of the main goals of ecology as a science is to study the basic laws and the development of the theory of rational interaction between individuals, society, and nature, considering human society as an integral part of the biosphere. At the present-day stage, environmental science primarily aims to provide evidence that would help bring the society out of the global ecological crisis and allow it step onto the path of sustainable development, in which the needs of the present generation will be met without depriving future generations of an opportunity to fulfil their own vital needs. The methodology employed within the discipline aims to meet rigorous scientific standards, as well as capture personal and social motivations influencing the environment (Ruth, 2015). Thus, it allows implementing both quantitative and qualitative research methods, i.e., ecological surveying and statistical analyses, and so on.

Study Design

To collect the data on the degree of awareness of air pollution related to waste incineration, and the overall public attitudes to the industry, it is possible to use surveys and questionnaires, which can be distributed within an urban area located proximately to a plant. Along with the questions about demographic characteristics of participants, the surveys may include the questions about residents’ willingness to abate pollution and their perceptions of the effectiveness of current active environmental standards. As for the environmental data, it can be studied mainly by using the secondary data such as epidemiologic studies and quantitative research findings collected from researches on local-level and population-level air pollution due to waste incineration, as well as its links to health outcomes.

According to Ruth (2015), personal experiences of nature and environment, environmental action and policy are closely interrelated. It means that the two selected disciplines can be well-integrated. The sociological data including attitudinal responses to waste incineration operations, as well as their effects on the public health, can largely define the possibility of banning the location of the industry within the city area. Additionally, the quantitative ecological and epidemiological data on the level of air pollution can significantly substantiate the findings of the study and provide evidence either for or against the proposed ban.


Eastern Kentucky University. (2018). Sociology as a discipline. Web.

Hu, H., Li, X., Nguyen, A. D., & Kavan, P. (2015). A critical evaluation of waste incineration plants in Wuhan (China) based on site selection, environmental influence, public health and public participation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(7), 7593–7614. Web.

Little, W., & McGivern, R. (n.d.). Chapter 2. Sociological research. Web.

Ruth, M. (2015). Handbook of research methods and applications in environmental studies. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Predictors Of Postpartum Depression: Who Is At Risk?


The article “Predictors of Postpartum Depression” by Katon, Russo, and Gavin (2014) focuses on the identification of risk factors related to postnatal depression, including sociodemographic, psychosocial, psychiatric issues along with birth outcomes. This paper aims at an in-depth exploration of the mentioned research article to determine its relevance, limitations, implications, and other essential aspects that are critical to understanding the article and its contribution to the field of women’s health. Considering that post-partum depression (PPD) presents serious health risks and negatively affects maternal functioning, this topic seems to be rather significant.

Research Question and Research Design Discussion

The authors provided the background of the problem, stating the previous research studies point out that risk factors are associated with anxiety or depression during pregnancy, low level of support, and neuroticism. With this in mind, they identified their research question as to the intent to examine the mentioned factors. Even though the research question was not specified, the article allows a reader to come up with this suggestion. In other words, the review of the existing data presented at the beginning of the given research provides the rationale and outlines the areas to be covered in the study. Based on the review, the authors designed their research question.

The quantitative research design was used by the authors to conduct the study and analyze the results. In particular, they applied a prospective cohort study based on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), and the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9). The statistical means were used to analyze the data collected from the participants. The selected research design seems to be the most appropriate since it helps to explore the health issues more deeply based on facts and statistics, which, in turn, leads to more credible results. Compared to the qualitative research design method, it is more accurate and objective. While the alternative focuses on interviews and observations, the chosen research design allows providing more trustful information based on medical history and indicators. The above points compose the strengths of this method. Among its weaknesses, one may note the limited capacity to involve human attitudes and concerns as well as any other verbal data. Thus, the authors selected the most relevant research design.

Sample and Data Collection Method

As for the sample of the identified article, 3,039 women at four and eight months of pregnancy were included in the study. Such a sample size can be regarded as sufficient for this study as it allowed the authors to provide some generalized conclusions and results. The eligibility criteria were the obstetrical care, 6-week postpartum follow-up, and at least one survey completed by the patient. The exclusion criteria were the age under 15 of women at the moment of delivery and the inability to complete the survey because of language challenges. The total number of participants was 1,423 women who met the described criteria. Compared to the intent of the study along with the research question, the above number of participants is adequate to receive proper answers. No gaps in the sample size were revealed during the article critique.

Data collection was based on questionnaires, namely, PHQ-9 tool. The Washington University’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic and Obstetrics Inpatient Service were responsible for providing this research, while the University of Washington Human Subjects Institutional Review Board approved the procedures. More to the point, taking into account that specific persons are to conduct the study, Katon et al. (2014) may also be noted as the key authors. The ethical considerations were not clearly stated. Therefore, it is not possible to evaluate the terms of privacy and confidentiality, which is the evident limitation of the study.

Limitations and Findings

The strong points of the given research article are adequate sample size, the relevant health care issue, and the comprehensive approach to studying a full range of PPD depression. Even though this article seems to be quite successful in addressing the mentioned health care problem, it still has some limitations. The first limitation refers to the inclusion of only one clinic in one geographical area, thus making it hardly possible to generalize the results for other geographical areas on a global scale. The second limitation is associated with the lack of initiating structured psychiatric interviews with the participants to identify any previous episodes of depression.

The lack of evaluating and including body mass index (BMI) or social support criteria compose the third limitation. In further studies, the above limitations may be eliminated by including the lacking elements and focusing on wider geographical areas and several clinics. The limitations are important to discuss within the research and the article critique as they indicate the authors’ awareness and objectivity and the scale of the research. Limiting the study, the authors focus their attention and may properly investigate the problem in terms of the determined settings.

The results of the study show that a depressive symptom in pregnancy is the key predictor of PPD. At the same time, women with adverse medical disorders and smoking history are more prone to PPD than others. Both medical and psychiatric disorders increase the risk of the mentioned health issue and may cause diabetes, obesity, and difficulties in quitting smoking. Psychological and social vulnerabilities also proved to be adverse in pregnancy and promoting PPD. The credibility of the findings is high as the article presents all procedures and data so that a reader may easily access them. The results fully answer the research question since they enlighten each area stated at the beginning of the research. It is safe to assume that the research results may be implemented into practice after additional studies to help women to prevent PPD through such specific measures as quitting smoking, avoiding stress and depression, unemployment during pregnancy along with preventing younger age pregnancy. In general, the findings discovered by the authors are appropriate and credible.


In sum, the article “Predictors of Postpartum Depression” conducted by Katon et al. (2014) discusses the factors causing PPD and suggests that younger age pregnancy, smoking, social, physical, and psychological stress and anxiety, chronic diseases, unemployment, and taking antidepressants are high-risk factors. The findings correspond to the research question and answer it. Utilizing the quantitative research questions, the authors provide the prospective cohort study, including 1,423 women from Washington University’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic and Obstetrics Inpatient Service.

Even though the study has an adequate sample size and discusses the important issue, there are such limitations as one clinic and the lack of BMI or social support as well as structured psychiatric interviews. Based on this study, one may claim that the evidence is not strong enough to change the existing practice. There is a need to conduct further research eliminating the limitations and deepening the study by involving more health indicators. After that, it would be possible to implement the proposed changes. To conclude, this research article presents a rather significant issue of PPD predictors such as sociodemographic and clinical risk factors that would be helpful for health care providers in anticipating depression in women during and after pregnancy.


Katon, W., Russo, J., & Gavin, A. (2014). Predictors of postpartum depression. Journal of Women’s Health, 23(9), 753-759. Web.

Strain Theory Vs. Differential Association


There are several models that are supposed to describe and explain deviance or crime. Among them one can distinguish Differential Association Theory introduced by Edwin Sutherland and Robert Merton’s Strain Theory. This paper is aimed at discussing these frameworks. In particular, it is important to examine the main concepts that play an important role in these theories. Moreover, one should explain the differences between these models. On the whole, one can say that Edwin Sutherland’s ideas can throw light on how a person’s perceptions of deviancy and crimes are formed. In turn, Robert Merton’s approach is helpful for showing why a person decides to violate the legal and ethical norms established in a community. These are the main differences that should be taken into account.

Differential Association Theory

The goal of Edwin Sutherland’s model is to describe how a person becomes a criminal. Yet, this theoretical framework cannot explain the reasons why an individual decides to act in a deviant way. First of all, this theory implies that criminal behavior can be learned by a person when he/she interacts with people for whom the deviance from social norms is acceptable both ethically and rationally (Akers 233). The influence of these people can be more significant, if they are viewed as role models that should be emulated. Moreover, according to this theory, a person’s attitude toward crime and deviance depends upon the dominant definitions of legal or social norms (Akers 233). In other words, if an individual believes that these norms are not beneficial, he/she will be more likely to commit a crime (Akers 233). According to this model, criminal behavior should not be explained only by some external factors such as poverty or inequality because people with same income level may have different perceptions of crime as well as social norms. This is one of the points that can be made.

There are several components that are important for this model. In particular, one can mention such a concept as deviant subcultures. This term can be described as a set of beliefs and values that promote a favorable attitude toward crime. The exposure to these subcultures can prompt a person to justify various forms of deviance such as theft or violence (Akers 233). For instance, adolescents often become offenders due to the influence of peer pressure. These teenagers interact with people who deny the validity of accepted rules of behavior. In the long term, they may be engaged in criminal activities such as vandalism, drug dealing, theft, and so forth. This case is importing for illustrating the use of Differential Association Theory. It can be of great use to criminologists.

Strain Theory

Secondly, it is important to speak about Strain Theory developed by Robert Merton. This model is based on the assumption that criminal behavior takes its origins in the values that are postulated by the society. One should focus on the standards according to which success is assessed (Aaltonen, Kivivuori, and Martikainen 162). In many contemporary societies, wealth is one of the goals that should be attained by a person in order to become successful. In many cases, people try to reach this objective almost at all costs. Moreover, crime becomes more widespread if people think that the legitimate methods of achieving success are not available to them (Aaltonen, Kivivuori, and Martikainen 162). In this case, much attention should be paid to educational inequalities because they prevent people from attaining material prosperity (Baumer 67). Additionally, this theory implies that individuals are more likely to commit crimes if they believe that the society attaches more importance to success, rather than the ethical virtues of an individual. This is one of the details that can be identified.

The concept of anomie is a critical element of this theoretical framework. This term can be described as the failure of social norms to retain their validity for people (Baumer 69). The state of anomie is experienced by a person when he/she cannot find legitimate ways of coping with various problems. Under such circumstances, people are more likely to commit crimes. This is one of the aspects that can be distinguished. For example, one can look at people who are engaged in drug dealing. These people decide to commit this crime, because they believe that it is the easiest and quickest way to reach the standards of material prosperity and success. Moreover, they do not believe that legitimate ways of achieving prosperity can be of any use to them. This attitude can partly be attributed to the lack of employment opportunities and low accessibility of education. So, this scenario is helpful for explaining the main postulates of Strain Theory. It indicates that policy-makers should focus on the relations between inequalities and crime.

Differences between the models

There are several differences between these models. Edwin Sutherland explains the mechanisms through which a person learns to tolerate crime. This sociologist shows how an individual finds rationalizations that can justify deviant behavior. However, this model does not throw light on the external factors that provide an incentive for people to commit crimes. For instance, Edwin Sutherland does not speak about economic motives, emotional stress, or the desire to conform the group. In contrast, Robert Merton attaches more attention to the motives which prompt people to commit crimes. In this case, much attention should be paid to the desire to achieve material wealth that is perceived as the main criterion according to which a person’s success is evaluated.

Furthermore, Robert Merton concentrates on the social inequalities that contribute to crime. To some degree, these theories can complement one another. For instance, Edwin Sutherland’s model can explain why a person, who lives in a poor neighborhood, can become exposed to deviant behavior and why he/she can perceive it as something acceptable. In contrast, Strain Theory may be useful for showing why this person may choose to become a criminal. These are the main distinctions that can be identified. Nevertheless, both Edwin Sutherland and Robert Merton pay attention to the way in which people perceive social norms and their validity. This is one of the similarities that should not be overlooked.


This discussion suggests that there are various models that are supposed to explain the origins of deviancy and crime. Differential Association and Strain Theories are related to various aspects of crime. Edwin Sutherland’s model is particularly relevant if it is necessary to show how the attitudes toward crime are formed. In contrast, Robert Merton’s approach is useful when one should depict external causes of such behavior. Still, people’s attitudes toward social norms play an important role in these models. This is the main point that can be made.

Aaltonen, Mikko, Janne Kivivuori and Pekka Martikainen. “Social determinants of crime in a welfare state: Do they still matter?” Acta Sociologica 54.2 (2011): 161-181. Print.

Akers, Ronald L. “Is Differential association/social Learning Cultural Deviance Theory?” Criminology 34.2 (1996): 229-247. Print.

Baumer, Eric. “Untangling research puzzles in Merton’s multilevel anomie theory”. Theoretical Criminology 11.1 (2007): 63-93. Print.