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Creating World Peace: Sociology is the First Step

Editorial Note:

This article on sociology and creating world peace is being published on behalf of Applied Worldwide’s 2021 student essay competition. Students were prompted to respond to the question, “Why is sociology important?” We have awarded 17 finalists from all over the world, and will publish these essays over the next several weeks.

This essay was written by Ismada Firdaus Mandala Putra, a student at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. This essay received a third place award. We had a really great turnout and would like to thank everyone who submitted an essay. We received a wide variety of creative interpretations and responses, so browse our essay directory!

Ismada Firdaus Mandala Putra

Before becoming a sociology student, I spent three years in senior high school majoring in natural sciences. At that time, I did not even know much about sociology because I did not even get sociology lessons in my class. After graduating from high school, I decided to major in sociology while in college after talking with my friend who is majoring in social studies in senior high school. This conversation made me realize that sociology was what I had been looking for.

All this time, I grew up in a school environment full of stereotypes where students majoring in natural science were judged against students majoring in social science. My friends in high school said that natural science students are superior to social science students. Based on my observations, which are also reinforced by the opinion from one of the teachers teaching history subjects at my school, social science students are often labeled as naughty and underachieving students by the school community. On the other hand, succeeding in taking natural science major is the pride of teachers, parents, and even the local community.

This then has an impact on the social life of the students at my school. At that time, many of my friends from social science felt belittled. They end up feeling very disillusioned with the school. This form of disappointment is shown by breaking school rules. One of my close friends from the social science department once said to me, “Why obey the school rules if we are not respected and are always considered no better than students majoring in natural science?” Hearing this, I have the suspicion that the existence of the label as naughty, underachieving students, etc. on social science students has turned them into really naughty students, and not just a label. After studying sociology and studying the labeling theory, I became more and more convinced that my past conjectures were correct.

From that day on, I became more and more likely to observe social phenomena around me. In addition, I learned more about social science in general—not sociology in particular—through books, articles, and by discussing with my friends from the social science department instead of learning more about natural sciences. My discussion with my friends started with the issue of labeling, then evolved into the awareness of stereotypes, which is created a statement that social science students were far below natural science students in terms of abilities, achievements, attitudes, and many more. What’s worse, this statement also raises the notion that the prospect that natural science students are better than social science students, therefore studying social science is not a good choice to prepare for a future career. Many people often underestimate social studies students, including underestimating social science itself. In retrospect, my school’s social science enthusiasts were always smaller than the natural science majors. In fact, those who are not accepted into the natural science department will be “dumped” in the social science department. I am increasingly aware that good education is the key to building a country’s human capital. However, I also realized that the problem of education is very complex as it was in my school. That is why sociology as a science has an important role to unite the rifts because of the stereotype. Sociology can also be a representative of social sciences in giving an understanding that all of sciences—whether it is natural science or social science—are equal.

The battle between natural science students and social science students in my school as described above is a small example of the dangers of stereotypes. After studying sociology more deeply at university, I became increasingly aware that there are still a lot of stereotypes out there with more dire consequences. If the stereotype in my school causes less interest in social science majors, then the stereotype in the outside world can cause one or more people to be killed. An example is the stereotype which says that acts of terrorism are related to the spirit of a religion. As a result, adherents of this religion are labeled a threat to the world. Just because of a stereotype, two small groups and even two different countries can be involved in a conflict with each other, which leads to war where, of course, human lives are at stake.

I believe that the study of society which refers to sociology can be used to bring about world peace. I learned many things in sociology such as the diversity of society, social differentiation and stratification, individual beliefs and beliefs of a group collectively, and much more. Sociology made me realize that human beings really have to work together with one another. Two different things should be side by side and complement each other and do not need to be conflicted. As is believed by sociologists with a functionalist perspective who says that each individual has their respective roles in a group. If there is even one individual who does not function properly, the balance of the existing social system will be disturbed. The same is the case with my school. Both natural science and social science are needed to make human civilization better. The differences in religions that exist on this world should also be understood by all parties as a social phenomenon that does not need to be questioned. Stereotype against certain religions in relation to acts of terrorism is not something that deserves to be preserved.

As a sociology student, I want what I learnt in class to be learned and understood by other societies at large. I hope that people’s understanding of differences in values, norms, personal opinions, individual perspectives, and everything about diversity can make us all human beings who are not easily giving a label to others. Having a society that respects each other and understands how important working together is will certainly be the first step towards creating world peace in the future, and sociology is the answer to do that.