Sociology is the study of the human society in broad perspective. It includes the study of the interpretation of cultural attitudes and development of institutions. French academic Emmanuel Joseph Steynes in 1780 defined the term ‘sociology’ as the study of society and is stemmed from the Latin word “socius”, which means ‘companion’! The subject deals with the structure of our societies, their origin, characteristics, interaction, etc. This gives an idea that it would best suit people who are interested in reading and knowing about the various factors in societies such as the race, caste, gender, family structures, the state, etc. Recognizing the importance and role of sociology in life, the subject finds its scope not only as an academic discipline but also in conjunction with other domains such as Law, Literature, Management, History, and Philosophy.
Studying Sociology helps the students develop their critical thinking as well as research skills and understand important questions such as how and why the society behaves the way it does, and how it impacts the individuals on the whole. The students gain knowledge on the interaction between the forces in society and personal experiences. Also, sociology- students learn how to source information, extract what is important from it and fashion it into an argument. Focusing on collaborating with others, teamwork exercises, and working without close supervision are some key ingredients of the course learning.
Scope of the subject – Why Sociology?
In the modern world where creativity, critical thinking, analytical thinking, emotional intelligence, communication, innovation, collaboration and so on are the vital necessities in any field, learning sociology has a wide role to play. The subject can be learnt in various depth levels with numerous theories and studies still in use. As mentioned earlier, academia is one popular career domain where degrees, from graduate to research levels find great opportunities. Other occupations such as writer, researcher, lecturer, etc. require the knowledge of sociology. Authors, columnists, critics, journalists, need a base of sociology to mark their role in the world. Apart from these, key professions in Management of businesses now find the knowledge of human society evolution and behaviour as necessities. Moreover, the students who plan to take up careers in handling people such as public administrators, counsellors find great advantages in studying sociology.
This is an important question to be addressed for the benefit of a huge student population, especially in India, when there are a plethora of sociology courses offered by multiple universities. Of course, when it comes to the key matter of study, it is the same anywhere in the world. But, what makes the difference would be the exposure and various perspective that the student would gain by doing the course abroad. Even the remuneration, value and respect that the person having a global degree from a university abroad is worth considering. The chance of landing on a job and settling in your dream country having studied sociology is highly possible too. Thus the students get to the point where they are able to ask the right questions and understand how people work together in a society.
Classification of sociology
Some of the important types or fields under sociology can be described as follows:
- Cultural Sociology – This is the field that basically considers all social phenomena as inherently cultural. According to Simmel, culture is referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history." Social processes being potentially explained in terms of culture is the idea here. The culture of arts, music, theatre, etc. are subsets of cultural sociology.
- Criminology – This area covers the sociology of deviance that studies the mannerisms which violate the rules, both formal legal written rules as well as the ethical and cultural moral principles. This field includes the sociology of law as its subset.
- Sociology of Communications and Information Technologies – This encompasses the social aspects of computing, the Internet, new media, computer networks, and others. It includes the media, internet, etc.
- Economic Sociology – Emphasis on class relations and modernity are the important aspects of this domain. There is always salient recognition of the relation between capitalism and modernity. A great number of social theories give weightage to the fact that “economic relations between individuals or firms take place within existing social relations (and are thus structured by these relations as well as the greater, larger social structures of which those relations are a part).”
- Sociology of education – This field relates to determining social experiences, structures and other outcomes by educational institutions. The schooling and education systems of the modern world becomes the key area of interest. The field focusses on overcoming the disadvantages in the education domains and thereby make a better world.
- Environmental sociology and Sociology of disaster – It is the study of human interactions with the natural environment, with focus on dimensions of nature or environmental problems.
- Sociology of the family, gender, Feminist sociology, etc. – As it is evident from the name, this area of sociology deals with the various aspects of family, kinship ties, relations, childhood, etc.
Other areas of specialization under sociology are Sociology of health and illness and Medical sociology, Population and demography, etc.
Types of study programs
The study programs offered by various universities worldwide are huge in number. The programs are structured based on the level of the degree the student is planning to take. For those already having a degree in sociology (Bachelor’s), the next level to choose upon would be Post-graduate level course such as MA-Sociology. The entry requirements depend upon the previous educational background of the student. The under-graduate courses will require a minimum 3-A levels, or equivalent degree in subjects related to humanities, while the post-graduate courses require a minimum 3 years graduation in the related degree. Apart from these, criteria such as scores for the test of English language, etc. are important.
Learning the subject involves specialization into a particular field under sociology. The higher the level of degree education, the more narrow and specific the subject goes, just like many other areas of study.
Basically the Sociology courses are split up for specialization as courses in Social Studies (sociology), Criminology, Family Studies, Youth studies, etc.
Top Destinations for Sociology
The below is a list of country destinations ranked by order of popularity and preference.
- New Zealand
Top ranked universities offering courses in Sociology
Some of the top universities globally are the Cambridge University, Durham University and Bath University in the UK. It is important to consider the reputation of the university, especially when pursuing such non-vocational qualifications. The student must consider the fees, cost of living, requirement of financial support, etc.
The following is the list of world-wide universities, ranked by the QS World-Universities ranking.
- Harvard University – US
- University of California, Berkeley (UCB) – US
- University of Oxford – UK
- London School of Economics and Political Science – UK
- Stanford University – US
- University of Cambridge – UK
- University of Chicago – US
- University of California, Los Angeles – US
- Yale University – US
- Princeton University – US
Popular study programs offered:
By Oxford University –
By University of Cambridge –
By Stanford University –
By Harvard University –
Future Opportunities and Career Prospects
One of the most popular and sought after careers by students taking up sociology courses is the field of academics. The position of social researcher, gathering, analysing and producing information concerned with communities, covering various aspects of vulnerable sections of the society are some vital job roles for those with sociology graduation. Having said this, it does not mean that a sociologist’s roles are confined only these areas. The modern world is in search of potential students who have great ability in people-skills. This means that interaction with the society and public at large is vital for fields like business, science and technology, law, journalism, etc., and thus Sociology finds its necessity in multiple areas.