Sociology is an academic discipline that is vital to be studied in our rapidly progressing and changing world. The study of societies is important as every society has their own unique characteristics and histories that define the lives of people that belong to them. Sociology helps understand various human and social perspectives in which individual lives are defined and shaped. This essay will seek to explore into ten reasons why it is important to study sociology.
Sociology as an academic discipline is vital in analyzing the relationships that are ensued as a part of interacting with the environment, the different natures of these relationships, the origin of cultures and traditions, the relationship between economic, social and political power, etc. Sociology is rich in relevance and scope. It encourages the researcher to device and accommodate innovative solutions to various societal issues. The discipline encourages one to view society more objectively and understand the subjectivity of every individual’s life. In the rapidly growing modern industrial world that is only becoming more and more complex, a discipline like sociology helps to understand and analyze the innate differences that lie within individuals and how the individual contributes to the whole. This essay will now go into the ten reasons why it is important to study and read sociology:
- Sociology analyzes the role and importance of various social institutions in an individual’s life
Sociology analyzes the individual role that every social institution has on our lives. Institutions such as Family, Marriage, Kinship, Religion, Education, etc. each play distinct roles in shaping a person’s life and their social interactions. The study of these institutions helps in examining the formation of our primary and social identities and their interplay in shaping us into valuable members of society. Every personal and social interaction we have, from the moment we are born to the end of our lifetimes, continue to have an effect on the creation of our individual identities. These interactions and socializations contribute to the way each person in society is shaped. Sociology helps us examine the way in which the individual contributes to the whole.
2. Sociology is rich in Scope
Sociology as an academic discipline offers an array of possibilities and opportunities in the global field. Engaging in sociology offers career pathways in the fields of urban development and planning, public policy, nonprofit management, criminal and social justice, social activism, community outreach and many more. “As a basic discipline it ought to have a part in the general education of everyone. But it is of particular importance in the occupational training of those whose work will be concerned with the ordering and regulation of human affairs. Education, law, the ministry, medicine, journalism, radio and TV programming, librarianship, social casework, youth group work, agricultural extension, town and country planning, and administration in its now multitudinous fields of business, public service, local government, social service, colonial service, and hospital military and prison organization-professional training for any of these walks of life would be immeasurably the poorer without a coverage of general sociology” (Fallding, 1962, p. 92).
3. Sociology is a science, and utilizes distinct and highly accountable methodologies for research
The introduction of sociology as an academic discipline marked the advent of the study of human societies in distinct systematic ways. Equipped with its various modes and methods of research, it was the only discipline that sought to analyze the nature and complexities of human societies. The discipline utilized well defined methods of enquiry such as, observational method – participant and non-participant observation, survey method, interviews, archival method, field research, experiments etc. These research methods are engaged in very professionally and often guarantee optimal results.
4. Sociology aids in finding practical and innovative solutions to societal issues
Along with the multitude of intricacies and complexities in society, come the various social issues and disputes in society. The lack of a discipline such as sociology, makes it almost impossible to find viable solutions to these problems. It is hard to mend the society without having a valid understanding of its mechanism. Sociology is important here because, it seeks to dissect the issue, understand the root cause and the external and internal factors that contribute to the problem; and only then proceed to find solutions. With the multiple methods of research as mentioned above, a clear and comprehensive understanding of the social issue is formed, which allows the researchers to devise the most suitable and effective solution according to each problem.
5. Sociology has been vital in reconstructing our attitude towards fellow human beings
The discipline of sociology studies numerous societies, their cultures, traditions and behaviors; and it is this very nature of the discipline that helps human beings create a clearer understanding and acceptance of each other’s differences. It helps one understand and learn about beliefs and practices different from one’s own and allows a healthy cultural exchange in times that require intermingling. Sociology provides knowledge and education about the various differences as well as similarities we possess across our various cultural and national backgrounds. Pre-equipping ourselves with this understanding helps human beings function better in society by utilizing our similarities and mediating our differences in the most effective and nurturing ways.
6. Sociology contributes greatly to the understanding of international problems
There is always a threat of conflict in the world, the nature of the world has always been so. Especially with the progress the world has reached so far thanks to industrial, scientific and technological development, there are possible tensions created between countries for the accumulation of resources. Since the world is highly divided politically, chances of resource and economic conflicts also rise. This is where sociology plays its part, where it helps understand, analyze and mediate these tensions and aid in avoiding conflicts in ways such as foreign policymaking, public policymaking, creation of international laws, trade laws, etc.
Also Read: Sociological Perspectives on War
7. Sociology plays a major role in raising awareness about the nature of livelihoods of marginalized communities
The more the number of people that are educated on sociological concepts, the easier it is to reach a larger audience when raising awareness about social issues of today. Sociological understanding of the conditions of marginalized communities and other social issues of the world allows individuals to understand these issues better even if they are not directly affected by them. Awareness of how social sanctions, social institutions, our interactions, relationships etc. affect the way we treat other individuals and the way we receive and choose to act on social injustices, is key to creating a drive to seek solutions and raise awareness. Sociological research projects and their valuable results aid the governments to ensure social welfare measures and welfare programs that are undertaken for communities that require it.
8. Sociology is a multifaceted discipline
Sociology does not exist in isolation, people seeking to learn sociology can also learn and include other disciplines, as all facets that sociology covers are relevant in all aspects of life. Subjects like International Relations, Anthropology, Political Science, History, Literature, Cultural Studies, etc., all have a give and take relationship with Sociology. Sociology provides research skillsets that are both tangible and intangible, equipping the learner with a set of skills that can be used for most disciplines in their own respect research areas as well.
9. Sociology equips individuals with transferrable skills
Transferrable skills are a key character trait looked for in people as these are skills that have the potential to be applied in a variety of areas. Sociology ensures the development of transferrable skills such as, “an understanding of social systems and large bureaucracies; the ability to devise and carry out research projects to assess whether a program or policy is working; the ability to collect, read, and analyze statistical information from polls or surveys; the ability to recognize important differences in people’s social, cultural, and economic backgrounds; skills in preparing reports and communicating complex ideas; and the capacity for critical thinking about social issues and problems that confront modern society”. (Department of Sociology, University of Alabama, n.d.).
10. Studying and Reading Sociology helps one gain a valid understanding about the various social forces that play a part in one’s life, and this knowledge better equips one to deal with these social forces and make rational decisions for themselves.
Lastly, sociological knowledge and understanding shapes us into informed and driven citizens, preparing us with the skillsets required to make and influence important societal decisions. C. Wright Mills coined the term, “sociological imagination” which he used to describe the direct connection between society’s larger events and the individual consequences faced by us. Being aware of this relationship and attaining this sociological imagination helps us become more aware of the impact every societal concept and phenomenon has on every individual’s life. The knowledge acquired through sociological reading, learning and understanding can be used to educate our fellow citizens, and also be to contribute to social organizations for the enrichment of the society.
The discipline of sociology serves as a key provider of foundational knowledge about the various facets of society and aid in preparing us to deal effectively with the numerous social phenomena that influence us throughout the course of our lives. Sociology also has a wide scope of opportunities due to its multifaceted nature and equips individuals with valuable transferrable skills that prove to be very useful in almost all fields. Sociology is important for the sustenance and enrichment of democracy as well, as the more informed and educated we are on the working and functioning of society, the better prepared we are to aid in its growth and contribute to our society’s needs in fruitful ways.
Department of Sociology, University of Alabama. (n.d.). Is Sociology Right for You? Huntsville: University of Alabama. http://www.uah.edu/la/departments/.
Fallding, H. (2008, April 7). The Scope and Purpose of Sociology. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8497.1962.tb01031.x.