Sociology

What is Sociology?

Sociology is the scientific study of society. It is a social science (a term with which it is sometimes synonymous) which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity. For many sociologists the goal is to conduct research which may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, while others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.

What is studied?

The traditional focuses of sociology have included social stratification, social class, culture, social mobility, religion, secularisation, law, and deviance. As all spheres of human activity are affected by the interplay between social structure and individual agency, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as health, medical, military and penal institutions, the Internet, and the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge.

How is it studied?

The range of social scientific methods has also expanded. Social researchers draw upon a variety of qualitative and quantitative techniques. The linguistic and cultural turns of the mid-twentieth century led to increasingly interpretative, hermeneutic, and philosophic approaches to the analysis of society. Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of new analytically, mathematically and computationally rigorous techniques, such as agent-based modelling and social network analysis. Sociology should not be confused with various general social studies courses which bear little relation to sociological theory or social science research methodology

What is studied at Goffs?

Students in their first year study a unit on ‘Education and Research Methods’, which includes studying the role of education, sociological perspectives on education and how sociologists research education. ‘Families and Households’ is the second unit, this includes the changing nature of the family, the social construction of childhood and demographics as well as marriage and divorce.

Second year students will study a unit on the ‘Mass Media’. This includes studying who controls the media, how the media affects audiences and whether the media stereotypes certain social groups. The unit is assessed in a one and a half hour exam in January. The second unit is on ‘Crime and Deviance’. This includes learning about the causes of crime, the function of crime and whether punishment is effective. In addition to this, students cover the sociological theories in depth, debate whether sociology can be a science and whether sociology can be value free.