Welcome to Sociology!
Miss Rogers: Director of Sixth Form / Teacher of Psychology and Sociology
Why should I study Sociology?
I am a child of the ‘70s. Born in 1972 I was the very first in my working class family to go to university. And I have a very big family: my dad was one of 8 children, my mum one of 14! I was 15 when Mrs Thatcher spoke to ‘Women’s Own ‘magazine in 1987. It had a marked impact on me. Because it embodies ‘Sociology’ at its core. What is society? It made me question key elements of society and what it means. As a keen Social Scientist myself, I couldn’t decide which subjects I loved most. Such a difficult one…So, I decided to study a joint honours degree (BSc) in both Psychology and Sociology in Swansea University and have never looked back. Both subjects complement each other perfectly; if you are keen to understand more about ‘Society’ (whatever this could mean – I assume you’ve read the above) and institutions that work within it (for example, the Family, Education, Crime and the role of Beliefs in Society, particularly in our current climate of the perceived terrorist threats) and you’d like to see the impact of how changes in society influence law making and Social Policy, then this is definitely the subject for you. If you are interested in politics, social policy as well as Sociology, you will be inspired by Sociology.
What do we study in Sociology?
We study the AQA course in Sociology. In the 2 year A level course, we will look at a variety of topics which enable you to understand how different elements of society works, along with the varying theories around them. The course outline is included below. Further details can be found on the AQA website. www.aqa.org.uk
Ann Oakley: A key figure in the role of women in the family
Families and households – You might not have considered the importance of the family as a ‘primary source of socialisation’, yet the family unit exists to teach us what is and is not acceptable in our society. We learn from a very early age what we can and cannot get away with and how this translates in our society when we approach adulthood. We are not born with a manual which tells our parents how to rear us, neither are we told explicitly the ‘rules’ we must obey. So how do we know how to behave? One of the main ways is through the primary socialisation of the family. There are also many other ways in which the family educates us. According to Functionalists, the family is extremely positive for our society in that it shows us how we fit in and how we can operate for the benefit of our society. Roles within the family are explicit: the mother stays at home and looks after the baby/children (expressive) the father goes out and earns the money (instrumental). It gives us our expectations regarding how our future might develop. Nevertheless, Marxist Sociologists seethe family and its dynamic as a potentially negative force: the family curtails our freedom and prevents working classes to see how they are being ‘brainwashed’ into accepting their lot in life.
Consider the statements below. How far do you agree/disagree? Sociology will involve discussion of controversial statements and you will be expected to support your arguments with sociological evidence and the work of eminent sociologists.
Task: Consider your opinions for the following:
- A woman’s place is in the home.
- There is no such thing as a symmetrical family.
- Only families headed by same sex couples are truly symmetrical.
- The symmetrical family is not good for children; they develop better with traditional role models.
- It is a man’s job to be the breadwinner.
- Policy does not support men as parents.
- Divorce is increasing the role that fathers play in childrearing.
- Men and women may do equal housework, but men still have more power.
- Families are becoming symmetrical because more women are employed
What are families for?
The answer depends on the Sociological theory you choose to adopt…
Task: Answer the following:
How important are your grandparents to you?
Do they live with you? Have they helped with childcare in your family?
How much money do grandparents save the British economy?
Why is it so important for elderly members within the family to have a role in society?
Education – ever wondered why education is compulsory? Or why some pupils do better than others in school? Who is your most and least favourite teacher? What impact can a good teacher have on exam results? What external factors (outside the school) are involved in educational success? Why middle class students do better in education than their working class counterparts, irrespective of intelligence? Or even how the government is trying to address boys’ (under) achievement? In what ways have educational policies offered affected achievement?
And what has the American Children’s programme ‘Sesame Street’ to do with this?
Sesame Street first aired on public TV in America in 1969. It was commissioned as a pre-school education programme to educate 3 and 4 year olds from low income families. These children began school at a disadvantage in their literacy, numeracy and social skills. It helped these children and their families learn important skills to prepare them for school.
We also have our own programme to help disadvantaged families in the UK. Entitled “Sure Start” it was created by the Gordon Brown and Labour Government in 1998 and aimed to give children the ‘best start in life’ through early education, healthcare and supporting disadvantaged families .
Reading material: To see the impact of Sure Start look at the following link from Birbeck College, London - http://www.ness.bbk.ac.uk/
You will also study the impact of many school policies and consider how schools offer opportunities as well as challenges within the ethos and climate they create.
Task: Sir Ken Robinson is an eminent educationalist. Take a look at his website and read more on his philosophy for Education - http://sirkenrobinson.com/
Video Material: Education: Do schools kill creativity? Ken Robinson - www.ted.com
Crime and Deviance – ever wondered how crime and deviance are different? What is the role of the police? How does the law serve the interests of people in our society? How do we measure crime? Do females commit different crimes from males? How is globalisation and crime linked? Are we living in a surveillance society? How can society shape individuals behaviour?
To find out more about crime and deviance take a look at the slide presentation below.
Research task: Look at the police website and look at the crime committed in your area. How does it compare with other regions? Are you surprised regarding the types of crimes committed?
Task: Watch the TED talk on how Sociologist Alice Goffman explains how society can shape destinies of young people.
Where can an A level in Sociology lead?
Many students go on to study Sociology at university. This combines particularly well with Psychology, Social Policy and Politics. Occupations including teaching, journalism, working in the Charity Sector as well as in Health and Social Care also relate to Sociology. You will learn many transferable skills which can be applied to a number of different sectors.
What can I do with a degree in Sociology?
Exam board and information regarding the course and assessment
British Sociological Association (for up to date information about the world of Sociology) https://www.britsoc.co.uk/
TED talks on all academic subjects including Sociology
Department for education website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education
Great Sociological Recommended Reads
Sociological Cinema – highly recommended!
A brilliant website containing films and documentaries on Sociological topics and theory. Also contemporary blogs on important issues include.
Most popular Sociology film list
What can I do with a degree in Sociology?
Should you like to receive any additional information on this course please contact
Miss Lissa Rogers – Director of Sixth Form
Miss Catherine Llewellyn – Head of Social Sciences