Welcome, eager sociologist! You’ve made a wise decision in choosing to teach yourself sociology. It’s only one of the most important sciences out there!
And while it may seem daunting at first, we promise you that it is entirely possible to teach yourself sociology. Here’s how:.
There are 5 steps to teaching yourself sociology – Read about the history of sociology, learn important sociology terminologies, go through different sociological perspectives, understand and apply research methods, and read about current sociological issues and develop solutions.
Each of these steps is important in helping you understand sociology as a whole.
And in this guide, we will go through each step in detail to make sure you are equipped with everything you need to know to teach yourself sociology.
5 Steps to Teach Yourself Sociology
Here’s our detailed, 5-step process to teach yourself sociology. We’ve tried to make it as simple and straightforward as possible so that you have an easier time following along.
Try not to skip any steps and/or jump ahead – each one is crucial in helping you understand the complex workings of sociology!
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Step One: Read About the History of Sociology
If you want to teach yourself sociology, the first step is to learn about the history of sociology. This will give you a good foundation for the rest of your journey in teaching yourself sociology.
Start by reading about the early history of sociology. Learn about its founding fathers and how they came to develop this important science.
Here are some of the most important ones:
- Auguste Comte – Comte is considered the father of sociology. He coined the term “sociology” and believed that it was a science that could be used to study social change.
- Emile Durkheim – Durkheim is considered one of the most important sociologists of all time. He is best known for his work on social cohesion and division of labor.
- Max Weber – Weber is another one of the most important sociologists. He is best known for his work on social stratification and class.
- Karl Marx – Marx is best known for his work on economic inequality and class conflict. You may have also heard of him because of his work on communism.
- Herbert Spencer – Spencer is best known for his work on social Darwinism and survival of the fittest.
These are just a few of the most important sociologists in history. As you can see, they all came from different backgrounds and had different areas of focus.
But together, they laid the foundation for sociology as we know it today.
Once you have a fairly good understanding of the history of sociology, move on to step two.
Step Two: Learn Important Sociology Terminologies
In order to understand sociology, you need to learn some important terminologies. This is paramount in your journey to teach yourself sociology.
Here are some of the most important ones:
|Agency||Agency is the ability of individuals to act independently.|
|Alienation||Alienation is the feeling of being disconnected from others.|
|Anomie||Anomie is a state of social disorder caused by the breakdown of norms.|
|Culture||Culture is the shared beliefs, values, and customs of a group of people.|
|Gender role||A gender role is a set of expectations about how men and women are supposed to behave.|
|Macrosociology||Macrosociology is the study of large-scale social phenomena.|
|Microsociology||Microsociology is the study of small-scale social interactions.|
|Norms||Norms are the rules that a society uses to regulate behavior. They can be either formal (like laws) or informal (like social norms).|
|Social Constructionism||Social constructionism is the idea that social phenomena are constructed by people.|
|Social Institution||A social institution is a system that helps to meet the needs of a society. Examples include religion and marriage.|
|Social Structure||The way in which a society is organized. It includes things like family, education, and government.|
|Socialization||Socialization is the process by which people learn the culture of their society.|
|Sociological Perspective||A sociological perspective is an approach to sociology that emphasizes one or more specific aspects of society.|
|Symbolic Interactionism||Symbolic interactionism is the idea that human behavior is shaped by symbols and meanings.|
|Values||Values are the beliefs that a group of people hold about what is important.|
A good way to remember these terminologies is by associating them with real-life examples.
For instance, when you think of social structure, think of the different institutions in your society such as family, government, and education.
When you think of culture, think of the different customs and beliefs that your group of people holds. And when you think about norms, think about the different rules that regulate your behavior.
Once you’ve learned these important terminologies, move on to step three.
Step Three: Go Through Different Sociological Perspectives
Now that you know the history of sociology and some important terminologies, it’s time to learn about different sociological perspectives.
A sociological perspective is defined as a view in which one observes society through a particular lens.
One of the features of such a perspective is not to let your personal opinions cloud your judgment.
There are five main sociological perspectives: functionalism, Marxism, symbolic interactionism, feminism, and postmodernism.
Each perspective offers a different way of looking at the social world.
Functionalism is the idea that society is like a self-functioning machine (like the human body). Each part of society works together to keep it running smoothly.
Also called theas ‘consensus perspective’ because it emphasizes that there is a general agreement among members of society about what is good or bad, right or wrong.
Marxism is the idea that society is divided into two classes: the bourgeoisie (the rich) and the proletariat (the poor). The conflict between these two classes is what drives history.
Also known as ‘conflict perspective’ because it emphasizes that social change comes from conflict and conflict is a necessary part of society.
3. Symbolic Interactionism
Symbolic interactionism is the idea that human behavior is shaped by symbols and meanings. It emphasizes that our understanding of the world is based on our interactions with others.
For example, think about the different meanings that a wedding ring has in different cultures. In some cultures, it is a symbol of love and commitment. In others, it is a symbol of ownership.
Feminism is the idea that division between men and women forms the most significant social cleavage in society. It analyzes social structures and social institutions in terms of gender and gender and gender inequalities.
The prime objective of feminism is to achieve equality between men and women in terms of rights, opportunities, and resources.
Postmodernism is the idea that there is no one reality. It emphasizes that our understanding of the world is based on our own perspective. By understanding that our perspective is just one of many, we can start to see the world in a new way.
Postmodernism also rejects the grand theory which says that we can explain the entire social world with one single theory.
By understanding each of these perspectives, you will be able to see the social world in a new light. Depending on which view you find most convincing, you can start to apply it to the situations and problems that you see around you.
Step Four: Understand and Apply Research Methods
Sociology is a science, and like all sciences, it uses research methods to study human behavior. They help you to collect and organize data, test hypotheses, and draw conclusions.
Any student that hopes to study sociology must have a strong understanding of the different research methods so that their work has credibility.
There are four main research methods used in sociology: surveys, experiments, fieldwork, and secondary data analysis.
Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to learn all of them.
The survey is the most common research method in sociology. It involves asking people questions about their opinions, beliefs, or experiences. Surveys are usually conducted over the phone, by mail, or online.
Methods used: Questionnaires, interviews, focus groups
Advantages: Can study a large number of people, and data obtained is easier to chart.
Disadvantages: Questions may be misunderstood, people may not answer truthfully.
Experiments are used to study cause and effect. In a sociological experiment, the researcher changes one variable (the independent variable) to see how it affects another variable (the dependent variable).
Methods used: Laboratory experiments
Advantages: Can study cause and effect, easy to replicate under similar conditions.
Disadvantages: May not be ethical, may not reflect real-world behavior.
Fieldwork is when the researcher goes into the field to observe people in their natural environment. It can be used to study both groups and individuals.
Methods used: Participant observation, case study, observation
Advantages: Can study people in their natural environment, can get a detailed picture of behavior.
Disadvantages: May not be able to generalize findings to a larger population, can be time-consuming.
Secondary data analysis
Secondary data analysis is when the researcher uses already existing data, such as government statistics or news reports. It can be used to study both groups and individuals.
Methods used: Content analysis, statistical analysis
Advantages: Can save time and money, can study large-scale phenomena.
Disadvantages: Data may be out of date or irrelevant, data may not have been collected for research purposes.
Make sure you don’t just focus on one research method. The best sociological research uses a combination of different methods to get the most accurate results.
For example – If you want to study the social effects of a new law, you could use surveys to find out people’s opinions on the law, and then use experiments or fieldwork to study how the law actually affects people’s behavior.
Once you’ve mastered how to properly conduct research, you can start to apply it to the topics that interest you.
Do you want to know how education affects employment rates? Do you want to study the effects of poverty on families?
By understanding and applying research methods, you can find out the answers to these questions and more.
Step Five: Read About Current Sociological Issues and Develop Solutions
Sociology is not just about understanding the world, it’s also about changing it. As a sociologist, you can use your knowledge to make the world a better place.
One way to do this is to stay up-to-date on current sociological issues. There are a few ways to do this:
- Read sociological journals: If you want to stay up-to-date on current research, then you should read sociological journals. Many colleges and universities have libraries that you can use to access these journals.
- Attend conferences: Another way to stay up-to-date on current research is to attend sociological conferences. At these conferences, researchers present their latest findings and discuss new ideas.
- Talk to other sociologists: If you know other sociologists, you can talk to them about current issues in the field. This is a great way to learn about new research and get different perspectives on current issues.
Once you’ve stayed up-to-date on current sociological issues, you can start to develop solutions to these problems. For example, if you’re interested in the issue of poverty, you could develop a plan to help reduce poverty in your community.
By consistently applying the theories and methods of sociology in everyday life, you can enhance your learning journey and open doors to a career full of possibilities.
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Areas of Specialization When Studying Sociology
Within sociology itself, there are many different areas of specialization that you can choose from. Your roles, responsibilities, and day-to-day tasks will vary depending on the area of specialization you choose.
Here are just a few of the many different areas of specialization within sociology:
- Anthropology: Deals specifically with the study of human cultures, especially at an individual level.
- Criminology: Studies the non-legal aspects of crime, such as its causes, consequences, and social impact.
- Economic History: Examines how economic systems have changed over time and how they impact society.
- Historical Sociology: Explores how social structures and institutions have changed over time.
- Political Sociology: Studies the relationship between politics and society, and how activities like voting and campaigning impact social change.
- Rural/Urban Sociology: Analyzes the social structures and issues specific to rural/urban areas.
- Social Psychology: Investigates the relationships between individuals and groups, and how they interact with each other.
- Youth Studies: Focuses on the social, economic, and cultural issues faced by young people, typically between the ages of 15-24.
Try to read about these and other areas of specialization to find the one that interests you the most. Trust us, it’s so much easier to self-learn sociology when you’re passionate about the topic!
Best Career Options for A Self-Taught Sociologist
A lot of people have a misconception that the only career option for a sociologist is to become a teacher. While teaching is certainly a noble profession, it’s not the only career option available.
Learning sociology on your own opens up quite a lot of career opportunities.
Here are a few options to consider (along with their average salaries):
- Social Worker – $53,938/yr.
- Housing Officer – $60,913/yr.
- International Development Aid Worker – $51,790/yr.
- Family Counselor – $49,880/yr.
- HR Manager – $69,629/yr.
- Journalist – $53,939/yr.
- Policy Analyst – $76,901/yr.
- Probation Officer – $47,262/yr.
- Public Affairs Manager – $126,566/yr.
- Rehabilitation Counselor – $46,554/yr.
As you can see, there are a lot of unique career options available to self-taught sociologists. And, with the average salary for these careers ranging from $46,554/yr. to $126,565/yr., you can make a good living while doing work that you love!
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about self-teaching sociology:
Q.1. Do I need a degree to be a sociologist?
A. No, you don’t need a degree to be a sociologist. You can still find employment in many different fields, such as social work, human resources, and journalism.
However, having a degree may give you an advantage when applying for jobs.
Q.2. Is there scope for career growth if I self-learn sociology?
A. Yes, there is definitely scope for career growth if you self-teach sociology. With the right skills and experience, you can move up the ladder in your chosen field.
For example, you could start out as a social worker and eventually become a social service director!
Q.3. What are some online resources to help me self-teach sociology?
A. Here are a few online resources to help you self-teach sociology: American Sociological Association, Sociological Research Online, and Society for the Study of Social Problems.
Sociology is a powerful tool that can be used to understand and change the world.
By teaching yourself sociology, you can become a force for good in the world and create some much-needed social change!
So what are you waiting for? Start learning today!