You are currently viewing Overview of Sociology: Applied Sociology and Subfields

Overview of Sociology: Applied Sociology and Subfields

Editorial Note:

This overview of sociology is being published on behalf of Applied Worldwide’s student essay competition. Students were prompted to respond to the question, “Why is sociology important?” We have awarded 16 finalists from all over the world, and will publish these essays over the next several weeks. This essay was written by Adeleye Eniola, a student at Bowen University in Nigeria. 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!

Adeleye Eniola

In the year 2019, I applied for an industrial training program in a food industry and was invited for an interview. During the course of the interview, the head of human resources asked all applicants to introduce themselves. Something spectacular happened when I introduced myself—there was an unusual silence. I was then asked how relevant my discipline is to work in the organization. This question got me thinking as I was caught unaware, again, because I assumed that everyone knew the relevance of sociology. I had to on-the-spot think about sociology in the food industry.

I had to defend the discipline by tutoring the human resource manager on what the discipline was all about and what made me win his heart over. I was glad I corrected the misconceptions they all had. Furthermore, I shared my experience with some of my colleague who also experienced the same challenge, then I came up with the conclusion that the relevance of the discipline is not known or has not been fully trapped in my country Nigeria.

This is evident in the low number of undergraduates willing to pick sociology as a preferred course of study. The decline is a result of people not having an in depth understanding of what the discipline entails. Also, the quest for the relevance by the graduates of sociology upon graduation is still farfetched. A sociology scholar C. Wright Mills in his postulations ‘sociological imagination’ influenced my idea about the discipline sociology. It has helped me to understand social situations and apply the right constructions to issues that present itself using my sociological lenses.

What is sociology?

Sociology as a scientific discipline was coined by August Comte a French philosopher in 1826. He first used the term sociology to imply the scientific study of the society. Historically, sociology emerged as a specialized field of study as a result of the situations (French and industrial revolution) which brought about changed to the social order. These changes affected all institutions in the society, hence, there was the need to introduce a scientific discipline that would focus solely on understanding, interpreting and solving societal problems.

Having said that, there is the need to succinctly state clearly the importance of sociology. Sociology studies micro and macro relationships, by examining, how individuals behave when they are with other individuals, how individuals are impacted—by the group they belong and how the group in turn influence their behavior—and how a group relates with another group. Sociology does not only study relationships, but also utilizes different approaches to unravel social problems with the aim of proffering solutions. Change is constant as no society is static.

Sociologists understand that principal, hence, they study the factors bringing about the changes, with an attempt to project what the likely outcome of the changes might bring to different institutions (family, education, economics, governmentpolity, religion, health) that exist in the society. With diversities that exit in the society, sociology helps us to fully understand this and also adapt to the changes in the society.

In my three years of studying sociology, I have been able to critically analyze and proffer solutions to some problems I am faced with. I have also discovered that the discipline of sociology cannot study or discover problems in the absence of people in a social situation. In order to utilize my sociological knowledge, I decided to understand why people behave the way they do taking into cognizance their social environment. Additionally, it is important to note that since the interest of sociology is to understand human behavior, relationships, and interactions, sociology—through its various sub-disciplines—has achieved that making it easier to understand

Overview of Sociology and its Subfields

There are various fields of study in sociology such as medical sociology, urban sociology, political sociology, industrial sociology, rural sociology, sociology of law, sociology of crime and delinquency, etc. For example, when a sociologist studies crime and delinquency, they are not interested with the nature of the crime committed but the reason and interpretation surrounding the criminal behavior.  

If a person commits a crime and is eventually committed after much investigation, most of the time the unanswerable question is why the crime was committed, the environment the criminal act took place, and all other variables related to this act. Furthermore, rural sociology, examines rural life, dependency on agriculture, poverty, superstitions, homogeneity, joint family, life span, natural resources, etc.

Rural sociology provides basic data about the core problems related to social culture, religion, economic, and political issues of the rural dwellers. Rural sociology focuses on the dichotomy that distinguish the urban and rural dwellers with special focus on the disparity that exist in such locations.

Additionally, sociology has a way of studying everything in the world. For example, it studies politics, crime and deviant behavior, economics, health, sport, aging, youth, etc. Through studying polities, they are interested in studying political behaviors of individual. The sociological interest in political system is finding out who holds power within the relationship of government, political conflict, social movements and sources of social power.

A sociologist looks at this issue in various dimensions. This, however, separates sociology from other disciplines because of its approach of viewing or looking into societal problems. In every human organization, it is necessary for a sociologist to be there for the smooth running of the organization and this is seen in the human resource department of most organizations.

Subsequently, through industrial sociology, sociologists want to understand organizational behavior, how people behave in the organization, how people are motivated, how people are satisfied, and the variables that actually make one say they are committed to their jobs. Industrial sociology is concerned with the study of human relations, it is the study of the motivations and behaviors of people in the workplace. In addition, industrial sociology is the sociological analysis directed at institutions and social relationships within and largely controlled industry.

Final Considerations on this Overview of Sociology

Above all, the world is blessed to have a course like sociology which solves societal problems, studies human interaction, and provides explanation to everything that involves human beings. Some courses in sociology should be made compulsory for other departments because human interaction and understanding human relationships is very important and sociology is the only course that will expose them to understanding this human nature.

Additionally, it will help boost their understanding and expose them to the importance of sociology as this will help them in their field and their interaction with people all over the world. In conclusion, sociology is one of the most vital courses to human interaction which is the basis of all professions. It is very important that sociology becomes a part of every field of study undertaken in every institution so as to equip each undergraduate with the necessary knowledge required for their proper development. Sociology is the mother of all disciplines.

Sociological Theories: What should you know about them?