Social Sciences and History Department
Why Study Sociology?
When claims are made that the family is disintegrating, that America is a middle class society, that blacks are making economic progress, that women have come a long way, that the mass media provide audiences with what they want to see and hear, do you know how to evaluate these arguments? Sociology students learn how to assess such statements. They learn not only the facts of social life, but also the methods for analyzing various claims about society.
A sociology education develops the kind of social sophistication that goes beyond mere cynicism. Students are trained to ask: how do we know what is true? From what perspective does this claim or that policy recommendation make sense? Is this a valid study? What techniques or data would provide more reliable results? The sociological perspective enhances one's understanding of both interpersonal relations – group processes, family dynamics, gender roles, racial and ethnic differences – and larger social institutions – the corporation, the social class system, the criminal justice system, the mass media.
Sociologists study the ways in which human behavior is predictably affected by such factors as social class, race and gender. They examine how social problems – poverty, crime, and pollution – are framed by our social institutions. The students of sociology develop an understanding of the social factors that shape their own identities as well as those that may enable them, in turn, to influence their society. They also acquire knowledge and skills that may be applied in a wide array of work settings. Does a corporation need to assess the suitability of a product for a particular market? Does an organization need to understand its personnel problems? Should a parole board adopt a new method of monitoring parolees? What's the best way of handing the placement of abused children? Any of these problems could well be turned over to a person with sociological training.
Sociology prepares students for a variety of careers. FDU graduates become social workers and lawyers, receive master's degrees in business administration, criminal justice, urban planning, gerontology, enter Ph.D. programs in sociology and psychology, become administrators in industry, work in advertising, and occupy jobs in state, local, and federal government agencies. Those with advanced degrees in sociology may be employed as researchers by business, public agencies, or research institutes.
Sociology majors who enter a career directly after receiving a B.A. will be competing with graduates who have majored in a variety of liberal arts subjects; their competitive advantage is likely to be enhanced if they strengthen their background in research methods and statistics. Regardless of the career options chosen, a sociological education can enrich one's understanding of social life and improve one's performance in family, occupation, and society more broadly.
Dr. Gary Darden
Department of Social Sciences and History
Fairleigh Dickinson University
285 Madison Ave - M-MS3-02
Madison, NJ 07940
Room 31 (3rd floor)