If you were to ask me what my degree of Sociology actually is, there would be multiple paths of explanation I would have to consider before I answered. To my Nana’s sweet little old Nana friends, I tell them that I study society which ultimately helps to make Government policy. Throw ‘Government policy’ in my answer and they begin to look at me like I’m either a) a member of the FBI or b) a greedy Capitalist who intends on stealing their pensions. Regretfully, I am not a member of the FBI. To my friends and the random girl next to me in the O2 on a night out at Red Leicester, I have to try to explain it’s the counter-part to Psychology, but instead of the mind, I study everything else which affects our behaviour. I usually then let them borrow some eye-lash glue or a spare bobby-pin. (Girls are spectacular creatures when intoxicated and in the ladies at a nightclub – David Attenborough could get a good documentary on ‘bathroom etiquette’ and the female species going if he were to observe the O2 toilets for one evening). To a curious (and sober) person sharing a sofa with me in the Student Union, I decide to give the most accurate explanation – my degree is the study of EVERYTHING. It’s the study of your next-door neighbour’s favourite newspaper, to the label of clothing on your back, and your favourite colour when you were four years of age.
“Now, that sounds like an awful lot to study!” I hear you say? Yes. Yes it is. And if you Google ‘Sociology’, there are 75,200,000 results – 75,200,000 different ways of explaining exactly what it is and what its agenda is. But as much as Sociology is a wide and reaching degree to study, you never really learn everything to be learnt, because Sociology is happening every day, and every minute there is something in the world happening, some research being conducted which makes it never-ending. In fact, it’s growing. It’s growing as a subject and finally getting the recognition as a discipline which it has always deserved. Sociology cultivates our imaginations, our beliefs – our own minds! It allows us to question everything, teaches us to never accept anything as the indefinite truth, and even though I will never be able to explore all of the elements of my degree, I explore it within every element of my own life. If you have ever studied, or taken an interest in Sociology, you will know what I am talking about when I say you will never see anything in the same way again. My A-Level teacher adeptly explained it when she said to myself and all of my peers in my first ever Sociology lesson at AS Level, “I am about you give you your Sociology goggles, and if you decide to put them on, you’ll never be able to take them off, ever again.” I listen to conversations at the bus stop every morning and think about studies I’d love to conduct about student living, I shop for gifts for my brother’s birthday and become incredibly aware of gender roles down Boots’ ‘gift’ isle, I read the news and my mind is going at 100mph with all the information I read with my Sociology goggles on.
Of course, I would recommend my degree to any wavering A Level student as they stare at their UCAS applications. I want to run up to prospectus students for the University of Leicester on the open days and tell them to check out the Sociology department. I argue my degree’s credibility against other academics until I’m blue in the face. Why? Because I believe it is of such importance, that if it were a part of the schooling curriculum, it would revolutionise attitudes to many social problems. If we taught young girls about media manipulation and the effects of marketisation, would we see a decrease in eating disorders amongst teenagers? I would argue yes.
“What job are you going to get from a Sociology degree, exactly? Become a ‘Sociologist’?” I often get asked by unconvinced academics. Well, Mr/Ms Doubtful, there are so many job opportunities for Sociology graduates that I would not know where to begin. Of course, it would be wonderful to be the next Karl Marx or Emile Durkheim, but I could just as easily be a wonderful teacher, counsellor, housing officer, social worker, welfare rights advisor, probation officer… Need I go on? I will leave my degree (hopefully with a nice, shiny 1st Class Degree) with so many skills valuable to employers that I can stand proudly amongst the Psychologists, Historians, Anthropologists, Politic Graduates, Geography Graduates, and so on.
Sociology is so much more than crime statistics and case studies (and even they are incredibly interesting). It’s you, it’s me and it’s your next door neighbour and their favourite work colleague. It’s the books you read, the clothes you wear, and the politicians you vote for. It’s the degree and occupation which battles to make the quality of life for humankind improve, daily. My degree is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of, and if you are considering taking Sociology as your degree, especially at the University of Leicester, do not be held back by any doubters or scary headlines in the media. You never know, it may be YOUR case study which helps to eliminate discrimination in the work-place or implement positive changes within our education system – and if that isn’t cool, then I don’t know what is.
“It is always of interest to know what strikes another human being as remarkable.” – Graham Greene.
This article is incredibly helpful to anyone who is worried about career options if they are studying Sociology or considering it – it’s important to research the benefits of your degree, just make sure you are looking in credibly places! http://careers.guardian.co.uk/sociology-degree-career-choices