What is Sociology?
The scientific study of society is known as sociology and covers a very broad range of fields, ranging from social class and culture to law and social stratification. Over the years, the study of society has also come to incorporate health and medical, law and the Internet. Sociology uses different methods of investigation and analysis for research purposes and the development of a body of knowledge.
The History of Sociology Studies
While forms of social analysis have been undertaken since the dawn of time, it wasn't until the 19th Century that Emile Durkheim established sociology as a formal academic study. In 1895, Durkheim set up the first European department of sociology at the French University of Bordeaux. With the growth of industrialization, urbanization and secularization, sociology took on the role as an academic response to these concepts.
Parallel to developments in Europe was the growth of sociology studies in the United States. In 1875, William Graham Sumner taught the first Sociology course at Yale, while the American Sociological Association was established eight years later.
Research Methodology in Sociology
There are two main research methods which are used to collect data in the science of sociology - quantitative designs and qualitative designs - with sociologists divided about their favorite methods of use. Popular research methods which fall under these broader methods include archival research, experimental research, content analysis, observation and survey research.
Sub Fields of Sociology
Sociology is divided into many different sub-fields, including but not limited to sociology of culture, criminality, deviance and law, economic sociology, environment, gender and sexuality, media, religion and social networks.
Majoring in Sociology
Now that we've answered the question 'What is Sociology?', let us look at degrees in this field. A major in sociology is essentially a degree which focuses on the systematic study of human social institutions and social relationships. Sociology majors will cover courses which could include: Economic Sociology, Introduction to Sociology, Personality and Social Systems, Political Sociology, Race and Ethnicity, Research Methods, Social Movements, Social Stratification and Class, Sociology of Culture and Sociology of Religion.
Sociology and other Disciplines
Studies in sociology can overlap with several other disciplines such as anthropology, political science, philosophy and economics. Many fields draw from studies or research which originated in sociology, and many other majors will include courses in sociology to present their students "with the bigger picture."
Working as a Sociologist
A degree in sociology prepares the student for work as a sociologist which involves, among other things, analyzing and interpreting data, consulting with and advising individuals such as administrators and social workers, preparing publications to report on research findings, and many others.
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