How Does a Sociologist Spend a Workday?

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  • Sociology is the study of the interaction between individuals and the forces that govern their lives. These forces can act on family, education, social or government levels, and other aspects of life. Sociologists attempt to explain why people behave as they do based on the individual's actions and the rules that affect his life. They also attempt to explain societal behavior based on the makeup of the society--in other words, the individuals who form the society.
    Sociologists study every facet of life.They may study family issues, business or government structures, or social movements.

  • Sociologists may approach their subjects directly or indirectly, or a combination of both. They may pull statistics from other studies and then make a determination based on their findings. Alternatively, they may go into the field and observe the subjects firsthand. As an example, if a sociologist were studying the advancement of women in the work world, she may pull studies showing where women have advanced and study the factors within those businesses. She may draw general conclusions, such as that women advance more when certain factors appear than when they do not.

  • The sociologist also may go into the field and visit businesses to observe interactions among workers and management. Using the example above, he might observe how other women, male workers and management staff treat women. Based on his observations, he would put forth a thesis as to what conditions induce the advancement of women, and then attempt to prove that thesis with neutral observations. After gathering this information, the sociologist is ready for the final step.

  • The sociologist must write a report detailing his findings. He states his thesis, presents his evidence and proves his thesis with this evidence. Once he has completed the research paper, he presents the finished product to whoever hired him.

  • The sociologist's workday varies. She may spend one day gathering statistics at the library or online, and the next day organizing them and making notes. She may then spend a day in the field observing live subjects. She must then integrate all of these results into a coherent research paper; this effort may take days to perform. She may have an office but, for the most part, observes subjects in their environments because she also studies the environments themselves. The sociologist's reward for her efforts is not only her salary, but also her contribution to the understanding of how people and society work.

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