Sociology is a discipline founded about 100 years ago to bring the scientific method to the study of human societies. It has pioneered in the development of methods and techniques designed to provide accurate and verifiable information about contemporary societies. It is the inventor of survey research and a host of statistical measures. The techniques created by sociologists are now used in all disciplines concerned with human behavior.
Sociologists today conduct research and reason from research findings to generate deeper understandings of how societies work. The generation of theoretical statements and the testing of those statements in a wide variety of social settings is the core of sociological work. We are knowledge builders, rather than change agents, although there is an emergent group of "clinical sociologists" who see themselves as people who apply sociological knowledge to create changes in organizations, individuals, and communities. We contribute to human improvement by seeing that change can be based on good information and reasoned understanding of how humans work together in groups or larger aggregates.
By majoring in Sociology, you will gain the following skills, proficiencies, and expertise.
Broader Understandings Derived from Sociology:
- the significance of social structures & hierarchies
- the importance of culture (as in organizational cultures)
- social inequalities, and how they affect interaction, motivation, accomplishments
- the patterns of groups and organizational behavior: socialization, peer pressure, morale
- the impact of changes in the character, size, distribution and composition of the population
- social phenomena having to do with human health and disease
- the processes involved in deviant behavior and social mechanisms for enforcing compliance with widely accepted norms for controlling deviance
- fundamentals of doing social research, including questionnaire design, basic sampling, data analysis, interviewing, field research, etc.
- the dynamics of social interaction: how social identities are formed; how they are expressed in family, work and leisure settings
Liberal Arts Skills:
- Critical thinking ("careful and exact evaluation and judgment")
- Writing -- clearly and concisely -- at a high level of proficiency: ability to read, understand and summarize different perspectives on a complicated issue
- Oral communication skills: ability to reason on one’s feet, to summarize or advocate a position
- Computer proficiency at a moderate level
- A "survival" knowledge of a language other than one's native language
Skills to Apply in Diverse Settings:
- Developing research projects, collecting data, analyzing data (quantitative and qualitative), writing up the results
- Managing or coordinating units, offices, work teams, etc.
- Conducting training, orientation for others
- Conducting workshops for organizations sensitizing supervisors to issues of gender, minorities, people with disabilities, and age discrimination
- Leading focus groups to raise awareness of employees of their common ground with each other
- Advising organizations on interorganizational relationships
- Diagnosing and prescribing solutions to organizational problems
- Working with community groups to give them a greater sense of efficacy and control over events in their worlds
- Working with state and federal agencies to develop or evaluate public policies that are equitable, effective and efficient
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