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In general terms, sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behaviour. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organisations and societies and how people interact within these contexts.

Sociology focuses on the organisation of social life. It looks at how people’s lives are influenced by their opportunities and experiences; and the impact that people have on society through taking action and creating change. Sociology provides insights into the ways factors such as class, wealth, race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability and religion shape people’s lives, but this is only one part of it. Sociology is diverse and covers all aspects of social life.

Most importantly, sociology is a perspective on the social world that values critical thinking. Sociologists question the commonsense and popular explanations of social life and look at the dynamics of power and inequality in everyday life.

As sociologists we acknowledge traditional owners and First Nations as the custodians of their lands, in Australia and internationally. We also acknowledge the rights of all people to live free from discrimination and disadvantage whatever their class, race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability or religion.

Read on for other explanations of ‘What is Sociology’ from the, the American Sociological Association, the British Sociological Association, the Sociological Association of Ireland and the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand.

List of National Sociological Associations

Victorian Certificate of Education: Sociology Study Design

Visit Social Science Space: “A space to explore, share and shape the issues facing social scientists“.

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What can you do with a sociology degree?
What you can do with a sociology degree?

If you’re interested in working with people and communities, then sociology is for you. Sociology focuses on the study of human behaviour and social interaction to understand how societies are organised, develop and change. Graduates in sociology develop skills and knowledge applicable to a wide variety of jobs. These skills and knowledge include:

  • an understanding of social and cultural issues
  • high-quality written and oral communication skills
  • research skills and a capacity for detailed observation
  • the ability to work independently and in groups.

Graduates also develop more specialised skills and knowledge that are needed for the following types of employment:

  • Work involving social groups and social processes: such as minority and ethnic groups, crime and substance abuse, youth issues, family matters, industrial relations, poverty, globalisation…
  • Social research: devising surveys, collecting data, and conducting interviews and fieldwork; including the analysis, interpretation and presentation of the information collected
  • Social policy and planning: community development, cultural resource management, social justice issues, social aspects of health care, migration…

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Where do graduates in sociology work?
Where do graduates in sociology work?

Many areas of the public and private sectors employ graduates with social science skills. For example:

  • Federal, State and Local Governments: social services, teaching, industrial relations, criminal justice work, policy development and implementation, case management, group work with youth or the elderly, urban planning, general administration, migrant and multicultural affairs…
  • Community and Non-profit Organisations: administration, overseas aid & development agencies, social research, policy development, lobbying…
  • Business: consumer/social research, public relations, publishing, personnel work, training.
  • Further Study and Academic Work: Honours, Masters and PhD study, university and TAFE teaching, research assistant work.

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Some of the jobs recent sociology graduates have taken
Some of the jobs recent sociology graduates have taken
  • Youth officer | Multicultural affairs liaison | Welfare officer | Journalist
  • Community project officer | Development officer | Age & disability officer
  • Administrative officer | Electorate officer | Personnel administrator | Research assistant
  • Market analyst | Sales office manager | Service adviser | Client service manage

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Sociology careers web sites
Sociology careers web sites

Kate Huppatz (L) and Steve Matthewman (R) congratulating Michelle Peterie on being the 2018 JoS Best Paper Award winner for Docility and Desert: government discourses of compassion in Australia’s asylum seeker debate

Sociology Links