Opinion: Sociology--not for the faint of heart

I am a Sociology major (and Political Science with a minor in Faith, Peace and Justice). When I first got to BC I had absolutely no idea what sociology meant and while I was curious, I decided to go ahead with my major in psychology and political science.

One day I was having a conversation with someone and we were talking about “easy” majors. Sociology came up, but we both had no idea what it was. That night I decided to look into it and I found a plethora of courses that I knew I was going to be interested in: Race, Class and Gender, Popular Culture, Inequality in America, etc.

Immediately I was sold. When we needed to officially declare our majors at the end of freshman year, I scrapped psychology and proudly declared sociology.

I took Introduction to Sociology in the spring and I mistakenly thought the class was so easy I could just slack off. I was wrong. I did “fine” in the course, but I did not do as well as I could have.

D. Sharon Pruitt

D. Sharon Pruitt

It is here that we arrive at the first stereotype about sociology majors. If you think that you are going to come to college and major in sociology just so you can slack off because sociology is easy, you are strongly mistaken, honey boo-boo child.

Sociology is misunderstood and sometimes not understood at all. It is not easy. You not only do have to step up, but also you have to reframe your perspective of the world and especially of American society. Imagine going through life thinking you understand the way the world works and then one day you take a college course that destroys your previous understanding.

Sociology digs deep, for complex answers, which reveal the disturbing manner in which we structured our world and society, rather than taking issues at face value.

Let me use a metaphor to better illustrate this process. In the movie The Matrix, everyone is stuck in a pod. While stuck in the pod, you are living life, but it is fake and programmed. In order get out of the Matrix you have to take a red pill. Once you take the red pill you see what is really going on in the world, and you are not going to like it.

Sociology is not for the faint of heart and can be likened to swallowing that red pill. After taking the red pill and stepping outside of the pod you will be disturbed, hurt and feel guilty about almost everything.

After revealing that I major sociology, people who are particularly concerned about post-grad employment respond with an “Oh!” while saying in their heads “Yeah, home girl isn’t getting a job after college.” According to some people, getting a bachelor’s degree in sociology is a guarantee that you are headed for the unemployment line.

The question of employability is an easy one to address. No matter what you get your bachelors degree in you are not going to find a job (unless you’re an engineer or in computer science), so we’re all going to be in the unemployment line together.

I’m just kidding of course. Sociology gives you the skill of complex and in depth analysis. There's a lot of reading and writing involved. Your desire to help to change the world deepens, and there are many outlets and options for you to do so. For example, you can work with non-profits; you can do research and create policy proposals for think tanks. You can go on to law school and become a lawyer with a better understanding of our justice system outside of the misguided idealistic language that surrounds it.

Courtesy of SalFalko/Flickr

Courtesy of SalFalko/Flickr

Sociology is also stereotyped as a women’s major. I have found this mostly to be true. A sociological explanation for this is that since men are privileged they do not have the desire or interests in exploring their privilege because why would they? Why swallow the red pill and be faced with reality?

Men should want to study sociology so that they can better understand what it means to be a male in the world and in the United States. They should learn about the social construction of gender, race and class and give up some of their privilege so that all people can truly achieve equality of opportunity.

Lastly, if you have friends who majored in sociology you may have noticed that they have the tendency to analyze every word that they choose or you choose. Words are an important form of expression and how say things are key to showing how we think. So when someone says “That’s retarded” or “That’s so gay “ I die a little inside because it shows that we do not really have much respect for people with mental disabilities or homosexuals.

Since many of the people we interact with do not think this way we have to learn how to hold our tongue and avoid seeming to abrasive.

If you come to college looking to learn more about yourself in relation to others, then consider taking sociology courses. Studying sociology is a rewarding and fruitful experience but it is not for everyone.  It is hard and it involves a great deal of courage to not only learn the subject but to discuss it with others who are no where near ready to talk about it.

I leave with you a choice: red pill, or blue pill? Watch a clip from Tim Wise’s lecture on The Pathology of White Privilege. Does it pique your interest or do you strongly object to it? Or does this reaffirm something that you’ve already known? Regardless of what color pill you are ready to take, take a course in sociology.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=e2iPt96hziM

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