Why Major in Sociology?

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Sociology is the study of the organization, dynamics and consequences of social life. The scope of the discipline is as broad and diverse as social life itself. Sociologists study social interaction and relationships, organizations and institutions, communities and whole societies. The methods of sociological investigation are also varied: sociologists immerse themselves in the daily life of groups, interview group participants, examine recorded interaction, interpret historical documents, analyze census data, and conduct large surveys. The methods and concepts of sociology yield powerful insights into the social processes shaping lives, problems and possibilities in contemporary society. The capacity to identify and understand these processes — a capacity which C.W. Mills called the “sociological imagination” — is valuable preparation for personal and professional participation in a changing and complex world.

In addition to contributing to a liberal arts education, the sociology major prepares individuals for a broad range of career options and graduate and professional studies. Employment opportunities available to the graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in sociology include work in community service organizations and health agencies, government service, human resources, and many other fields. The major also provides a foundation for students planning careers in law, social welfare, urban planning, business, education and public health as well as for graduate work in sociology, social psychology, and related fields.

The Sociology faculty is widely regarded as among the best in the world and includes internationally renowned scholars addressing an amazingly broad range of topics from the dynamics of social interaction to the impact of globalization. The department boasts outstanding teachers. In recent years, professors Abigail SaguyMegan Sweeney, and Vilma Ortiz have received Distinguished Teaching Awards from the UCLA Academic Senate. Though small, our honors program has a record for training students in the fundamentals of research, and generating honors theses of substantial accomplishment. Over the past several years, a growing number of majors have won a variety of honors program scholarships, receiving grants each worth several thousand dollars. The annual AKD conference is an increasingly impressive event and our Sociology Undergraduate Association maintains an active, ongoing program.

Courses in sociology teach you to take a sociological perspective of the world you live in. The family you grew up in and the groups you are members of are social structures, the schools or churches you’ve attended and the employers you may work for are social institutions — all with rules, hierarchies, boundaries. Society at large and the multitude of groups that make it up have implicit and explicit ways of operating and hierarchies that are maintained. Learning about these structures, institutions and groups will help you better navigate them or perhaps even influence positive changes within them.

As a student majoring in sociology you have an opportunity to obtain the excellent communication, interpersonal relations and critical thinking skills that employers look for and that make for good citizens. Sociology majors learn to analyze both at the small and big picture level, to understand how perspectives influence how we view life.

Famous people who have studied sociology include: Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, Michelle Obama and Robin Williams.