Students major in sociology for two reasons: to expand their understanding of their world and of themselves, and to prepare for their future. Sociology is the study of social change, social patterns, and the relationship between individuals, groups, organizations and societies. Because sociology is broad in its focus, it allows students to select what parts of the social change process interests them. In addition, training in sociology encourages individuals to develop a "sociological imagination." C. Wright Mills explains what this means
Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both... The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals. ... The first fruit of this imagination--and the first lesson of the social science that embodies it--is the idea that the individual can understand his own experience and gauge his own fate only by locating himself within this period, that he can know his own chances in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in his circumstances. (The Sociological Imagination, 1959:3-10).
To better place individuals as actors in their social context, sociologists focus on major social categories, such as age, citizenship, class, family, gender, race, and religion. Sociology draws upon other disciplines to analyze these categories, including demography, economics, psychology, philosophy, political science, history, legal studies, and literature. As a sociologist, you will also refer to experiences on the campus, in the local community, and throughout the world. Sociologists strive to link academic pursuits to contemporary issues, and what takes place outside of the classroom is important to what takes place within it. In the process of studying our social environment with an increasingly critical lens, we learn more about our own place and how our actions affect others.
In addition, courses in sociology prepare students for multiple types of careers by teaching critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skills. Beyond theories of the social world, you learn statistical and other methods of research valued by employers. You also have the opportunity to conduct your own studies and participate in local community organizations. You also gain an international perspective on social events greatly valued in the increasingly global economy. Students are prepared to enter fields as diverse as business, law, social work, education, public administration, and graduate studies in sociology.
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