General Topic Information
Society is a very broad subject and overlaps with areas such as Law and Order, Education and Government. A successful society is diverse and made up of many parts. The smooth running of each of those parts is often dependent on fairness/equality and opportunity. Similarly, problems in many societies are almost always related to these two issues and they can be used as underlying principles to create good ideas.
An important problem in many societies is an aging population. Elderly people want to be treated with respect. They have contributed to society in the past and wish to be treated fairly. However, health care is expensive and labour intensive and problems arise if a society has a high percentage of elderly people because the elderly are typically unproductive, require many resources and often place a strain on economies. An aging population results in fewer working people leading to less income for governments, higher taxes on working people and less money to spend on services. A higher demand for labour means higher prices but fewer unemployed people.
Work satisfaction and work life balance is also an important issue facing many families. People want the opportunity to learn and achieve at work and have some control over decision making in the work place. After contributing at work they must be given adequate time to spend with family and to pursue other interests and receive an income that allows them to live a reasonable lifestyle. Many people find achieving a balance between their work and life difficult because of the expectation that they work long hours and often spend a great deal of time traveling to and from work.
Societies are also challenged by immigration. Immigrants have been given an opportunity to build a life in a new country and should make an effort to learn the language and culture of the new environment and obey local laws and customs because this shows fairness and respect to existing citizens. However, new immigrants must be allowed to practice existing religions, language and culture, provided it does not conflict with local culture. At times, local people do not welcome new immigrants because immigrants are sometimes viewed as living off society and taking jobs from local people. However, this is a one-sided view as they also use services, create businesses and contribute to the local economy. The impact of immigrants is close to neutral because immigrants both provide and use similar amounts of services. However, a rapid inflow of immigrants can strain infrastructure.
Occasionally questions arise regarding the advantages of living in cities compared to the countryside. In general, cities have better infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, libraries, roads, public transport etc. and are a centre for people with expertise, provide greater opportunities and attract the best people. The countryside has a cleaner environment, more space, less pressure and lower cost. Moving jobs to regional centres is encouraged by governments through incentives but usually fails because city based workers will usually not want to move because of families and houses and companies usually find it difficult to find skilled workers in regional areas.
Questions also arise about the causes of crime in society. Criminals are mostly people who have limited opportunities and are almost always poorly educated, come from lower class homes and often have poor childhoods. People who become criminals usually have little disincentive to commit crimes. Therefore, solutions to lowering crime rates should focus on improving general levels of education, opportunity and support.
Topic Vocabulary
Elderly – The elderly is a general term for older people, is very formal and highly appropriate for academic writing.
Equality/equal opportunity – Equality and equal opportunity are important cultural terms and can be used to describe the belief that all people in society should be given equal access to opportunities for education and access to health care, jobs etc. irrespective of their culture, race, disability, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.
Work-life balance – This is the need to balance the needs of caring for a family and a successful career.
The criminal justice system – This is very formal language and refers only to the part of the legal system that deals specifically with criminal activity. It does not include civil cases.
The legal system – The “legal system” is a general term that covers all aspects of law and the way in which the law is implemented.
Ageing population – An ageing population is one in which the proportion of older people make up an increasingly large percentage of the population. This poses particular problems for society because there are fewer taxpayers to support an increasing number of older people.
Rural lifestyle – A rural lifestyle refers to people of who are living in the countryside and often refers to farmers.
Urban lifestyle – Urban lifestyle refers to people who are living in the city and their lifestyle. It includes components such as housing, entertainment, access to facilities and education.
Quality of life – Quality of life is a key concept that is commonly referred to by people in the West and is an acknowledgment that a good life is made up of many different parts including family, leisure activities, work, freedoms, etc.
Sample Essay – Working From Home
Many people are working at home rather than in the workplace. Some people believe this will bring benefits to the workers and their families, but others suggest it will cause stress in the home. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

With technology increasingly being able to support a suitable home office environment, working from home is becoming an attractive option for many employees. Employees gain the advantages of being able to make better use of time and avoid costs associated with working, but at the same time this arrangement may interfere with their home environment. In this essay the merits of working from home compared to working in the office will be discussed.
Working from home allows people to avoid the need to travel to and from work giving employees additional hours in the working week that can be used for either work related activities or provide a more balanced lifestyle. For example, the additional time could be used to take children to and from school.
Employees will also have lower costs, particularly in relation to transportation. For example, if one partner works from home a family may be able to avoid buying a second car providing them with significant savings. Savings may also be made in other areas such as food and entertainment costs.
In addition, the breaks from work that most people take during the day can be used to perform household chores. The lack of other employees also means that there are no social norms and in quiet periods an employee can read the paper or a book or even watch television, activities that would be socially unacceptable in an office environment but do not impact on performance and may lower stress and have a positive influence on wellbeing.
However, employees may experience significant difficulties in working from home. They have no physical barrier between their work and home life as their office is ever present and could interfere with having a normal family life unless carefully managed. Employees may also feel isolated as they do not have co-workers with them and may lose valuable information that is sometimes passed by casual interactions in the office and fail to have the opportunity to build the relationships that are essential for career development and promotion.
In summary, working from home provides many advantages including lower costs, having more available time and being better for the environment. However, the time spent working from home must be managed carefully as there are risks of isolation, negatively impacting family life and loss of productivity.
Essay Notes
The question asks about working from home and applies mainly to white-collar workers. As a result it is more standard to compare working from home with working in the office rather than workplaces. This question uses a non-academic style by referring to what “some people think” rather than stating the idea. Copying language from the question in this case will result in a non- academic style. The question presents no particular challenge from a cultural perspective and is student friendly as there are many different ideas that students could include that support the idea that working from home is good for employees. These include saving time, reduced costs (transport, lunches, coffee, after work activities, etc.), environmental benefits and relationship benefits. In addition, there are also a number of key risks, including isolation, missing critical information, loss of networking and promotion opportunities, lack of separation between work and home environments and health problems arising because of being less active. As a result of the very large number of ideas for this topic, students should have little difficulty in reaching the word limit. In cases where there are many ideas students should focus on ideas and use fewer examples.
In the sample response the author has chosen to prepare a short introduction in order to allow more time to present ideas in the body of the essay. The introduction consists of three sentences. The opening sentence introduces the topic and explains why the topic has become important. The second sentence covers the key ideas and provides a structure for the essay. It is worth noting that the author has used a single ideas sentence in order to keep the introduction shorter but has introduced the most important ideas. The third sentence is a thesis statement that outlines the aim of the essay.
This essay is unusual in that it has four body paragraphs and is quite long because of the number of ideas being presented. The first three body paragraphs refer to the benefits of working from home, while the fourth describes the problems associated with working from home. Although the question encourages the writer to use many examples, the author has chosen to keep these to very short one or two word examples in order to ensure the essay is ideas focused and as a result has a more academic style.
The conclusion begins with “In summary” as a conclusion marker and has two sentences. In the first sentence the many advantages of working from home are listed. However, in order to provide a more balanced essay a second sentence highlighting the risks of working from home is also included.
Essay Vocabulary
Telecommuting – Telecommuting refers to using technology to work from home.
Balanced lifestyle – A balanced lifestyle is normally associated with a desire of most people to balance the time they spend at work and with their families and is usually associated with leading a less demanding work life. A person who spends too much time at work is described as a “workaholic”.
Socially unacceptable – Actions which are social unacceptable are acts that are not illegal or immoral but are not approved by many people.

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