Following on from some of my previous blogs about what my first year studying Sociology at the University of Leicester entailed, this blog will outline the modules I completed in the first semester of my second year:
- Social Class and Inequalities: Social class is a major concept in Sociology and comes up in a variety of different topics including work, education, economics, media, space and place and many, many more. These discussions may be based around representations of class in the media, where class inequalities exist, how formations of class have changed overtime and how class impacts upon our identity. So class forms a large part of the foundation of our sociological imaginations, making this module very important. In the module you learn about the different ways in which class can be conceptualised, i.e. does our occupation and income determine our social class? Or is it our cultural activities that define us? You then apply this knowledge to a small case study of a reality TV programme, the aim of which is to discuss how class is represented in the programme. You also apply your knowledge to critique an article on class. I enjoyed this because it made a change from previous essays and gave you a chance to do your own analysis and be critical of the work of others (something which is really important to do if you want to be a researcher!). But it wasn’t just about class. The module involves learning about how gender, ethnicity, race and sexuality operate parallel to class and how they shape social inequalities, for example for the presentation part of the assessment I produced a group presentation on the significance of patriarchy in shaping women’s class position. The module was both interesting and important as much of what learnt I have gone on to use in later modules.
- Classical Social Theory- It is all well and good learning about contemporary sociology and keeping up to date with the current research but the classical social theories shouldn’t be forgotten. The only reason that Sociology has become what it is today is because of the theorists of the 17th, 18th and 19th century who started it all off. And no I don’t mean Marx, Durkheim and Weber (well you do learn about them here but they were also covered in the Sociological Imagination Module), I mean Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith and Mary Wollstonecraft (yeah I hadn’t heard of them either!). In this module you learn about how these thinkers problematised society, their politics, and the ideas they put forward for creating a better society. This is placed in the historical and social context of their thought which allows for a contemporary critique of their ideas. The assessment is a 4,000 word essay and you have a number of different questions to choose from. I chose to answer a question which compared the ideas of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau and this was actually my favourite essay from my time at university.
- Research Methods 2- I previously highlighted the importance of learning about research methods when talking about my experience with the Research Methods 1 module. In Research Methods 2 we learn even more about conducting research, specifically about conducting quantitative research (the research which involves data analysis). Not every researcher enjoys uses quantitative research or even uses it at all, but it is highly important to learn how to understand and use data as a sociologist because you will more than likely come across numeric data at some point (plus it’s a skill that is highly valued by employers). In the lectures for this module you learn all about the statistical techniques that exist, such as measures of central tendency (mean, median and mode), standard deviation and correlations, and when to use them. The assessment then involves using this knowledge to analyse a set of statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales. You are taught to use SPSS (a software package) on which you can produce calculations, cross tabulations and regression analysis in order to allow you to interpret what the data shows. This is a challenging but very rewarding module. It has proven to come in very handy for me as I have been offered the role of Social Researcher at the Office for National Statistics which will involve doing everything I learnt in this module plus more.