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Sociology - Overview


Sociology is the study of how people and groups behave in a society. Students learn how cultural and social forces shape human behavior. They also learn how to do social research on current issues.

Ding! The elevator door opens. It's a big elevator with enough room for at least ten other people. You watch as an older lady walks in. She presses the button for the 18th floor. Then she walks over and stands right next to you. She's only about a foot away. You don't move and don't say a word. But the whole time you're wondering why she is standing so close to you when there's all that ROOM! You are relieved to get out of the elevator. Then you call your best friend and tell him all about it. The nerve of that lady!

Did you ever stop to think about why we think it's polite to stand as far as possible from other elevator passengers? Or, how you might sing your own silly made-up song if you were alone in an elevator, but you would never do that if someone else were there? These are just some of the basic questions sociologists try to answer. The main question they ask is, Why do people interact with each other the way they do?

Sociologists want to understand the world and the things that make society change. They also are concerned with inequality. They want to know, why are there "haves" and why are there "have-nots"? Although jobs may vary, most people who get a sociology degree research topics that explore human behavior.

In a sociology program, you take courses on sociological theory, research methods, and statistics. You also take courses in related areas, such as history of social institutions, social psychology, and political science. You also can take courses on different topics such as population control and different religions.

People who study sociology have many choices about the kinds of jobs they can do. Many sociology majors go to graduate school so they can teach in a university and do research full-time. Others work as policy-makers for nonprofit groups or government agencies. Many others become social workers, market researchers, or counselors. It's also possible to work in business, human resources, and journalism.

Most four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in sociology. Many also offer graduate degree programs. Typically you receive a bachelor's degree in sociology in four years. Most community colleges offer two-year programs in sociology that can be transferred to a four-year college or university. Graduate programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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