Sociologist – Definition, Types and Work Area




Sociologist is a social scientist who studies human society, including its behavior, organization, culture, and institutions. Sociologists examine social relationships, social structures, and the ways in which social institutions such as government, religion, and education shape individual and group behavior.

They use a range of research methods, including surveys, interviews, participant observation, and statistical analysis, to collect and analyze data about social phenomena. Sociologists aim to understand and explain patterns of social behavior, as well as to identify and address social problems such as inequality, poverty, and discrimination.

Types of Sociologist

There are several types of sociologists, based on their areas of focus, research methodologies, and theoretical perspectives. Some common types of sociologists include:

  • Theoretical sociologists: They focus on developing and testing theories about social phenomena, such as the nature of social change, the dynamics of power and inequality, and the formation of social identities.
  • Applied sociologists: They apply sociological theories and research to address specific social problems, such as poverty, inequality, and discrimination, through policy analysis, program evaluation, and advocacy.
  • Quantitative sociologists: They use statistical and mathematical methods to analyze large datasets and identify patterns and trends in social phenomena.
  • Qualitative sociologists: They use methods such as interviews, observation, and case studies to gain in-depth understanding of social phenomena and explore the meanings and experiences of individuals.
  • Historical sociologists: They study social phenomena and processes over time, using historical data and archives to understand how social institutions, cultural norms, and social identities have evolved.
  • Comparative sociologists: They compare social phenomena across different societies or cultures to identify similarities, differences, and patterns of change.
  • Clinical sociologists: They use sociological theories and methods to diagnose and treat social problems and help individuals and groups navigate social challenges.
  • Environmental sociologists: They study the relationship between human society and the natural environment, including issues such as climate change, pollution, and resource depletion.
  • Medical sociologists: They examine the social dimensions of health and illness, including the social determinants of health, healthcare systems, and the experiences of patients and healthcare providers.
  • Criminologists: They study the social causes and consequences of crime and deviance, including issues such as the criminal justice system, punishment, and rehabilitation.
  • Gender and sexuality sociologists: They examine the social construction of gender and sexuality, including issues such as gender inequality, sexual identity, and sexual orientation.
  • Race and ethnicity sociologists: They study the social construction of race and ethnicity, including issues such as racial and ethnic inequality, discrimination, and identity.
  • Urban sociologists: They examine the social organization and dynamics of cities and urban areas, including issues such as urbanization, gentrification, and urban poverty.
  • Political sociologists: They study the relationship between politics and society, including issues such as power, governance, and social movements.
  • Globalization sociologists: They examine the social and cultural implications of globalization, including issues such as transnationalism, immigration, and the global economy.

What Do Sociologists Do

Here are some specific things that sociologists do:

  • Conduct research: Sociologists design and carry out research projects to study social phenomena, such as the effects of poverty on educational achievement, the dynamics of social movements, or the impact of technology on social relationships.
  • Analyze data: Sociologists use statistical and qualitative analysis to analyze data collected from their research, to identify patterns, trends, and relationships in social phenomena.
  • Develop theories: Sociologists develop and test theories about social behavior, organizations, and institutions. They use their research findings to refine and expand their theories.
  • Teach: Many sociologists teach at universities and colleges, where they share their knowledge and expertise with students and train the next generation of sociologists.
  • Advocate for social change: Sociologists use their research to advocate for social change and address social problems. They may work with policymakers, community organizations, and advocacy groups to develop and implement policies that improve social conditions.
  • Consult: Sociologists may be hired by businesses, government agencies, or non-profit organizations to provide expertise on social issues or to conduct research on specific topics.
  • Publish: Sociologists publish their research findings in academic journals, books, and other outlets to share their knowledge with other researchers and the broader public.

What Skills Must a Sociologist Have

To be a successful sociologist, there are several skills and abilities that are important:

  • Critical thinking: Sociologists need to be able to analyze and evaluate complex social phenomena and data, and to think critically about social issues and problems.
  • Research skills: Sociologists need to have strong research skills, including the ability to design and carry out research studies, collect and analyze data, and interpret research findings.
  • Communication skills: Sociologists need to be able to communicate their ideas and research findings effectively, both in writing and orally. This includes the ability to present complex information in a clear and understandable manner.
  • Interpersonal skills: Sociologists need to be able to work well with others, including research collaborators, study participants, and colleagues in academic or professional settings.
  • Flexibility: Sociologists need to be able to adapt to changing research needs, new technologies, and evolving social trends and phenomena.
  • Ethical awareness: Sociologists need to be aware of ethical issues related to research and data collection, and to ensure that their research is conducted in a responsible and ethical manner.
  • Data analysis skills: Sociologists need to be able to use statistical and qualitative analysis techniques to analyze and interpret social data.
  • Problem-solving skills: Sociologists need to be able to identify and address social problems, and to develop and implement solutions to these problems.

Where Sociologists Work

Sociologists work in a variety of settings, including academic institutions, government agencies, research organizations, and non-profit organizations. Some of the most common places where sociologists work include:

  • Colleges and universities: Many sociologists work as professors, teaching and conducting research at colleges and universities around the world.
  • Government agencies: Sociologists may work for local, state, or federal government agencies, providing research and analysis on social issues, policies, and programs.
  • Non-profit organizations: Sociologists may work for non-profit organizations, such as think tanks or advocacy groups, conducting research on social issues and advocating for social change.
  • Research organizations: Sociologists may work for research organizations, such as market research firms or polling companies, conducting research on consumer behavior or public opinion.
  • Private industry: Sociologists may work in private industry, providing research and analysis on topics such as consumer behavior, workplace diversity, or social trends.
  • Consulting firms: Sociologists may work for consulting firms, providing research and analysis on social issues to clients in a variety of industries.

How to Become A Sociologist

To become a sociologist, you typically need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in sociology or a related field. Here are the general steps you can take to become a sociologist:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree: To become a sociologist, you’ll need to start by earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology or a related field, such as social work, anthropology, or psychology. Many universities and colleges offer sociology programs that provide students with a broad understanding of social phenomena, research methods, and sociological theories.
  • Pursue a master’s or doctoral degree: While a bachelor’s degree may be enough to find entry-level jobs in sociology or related fields, many sociologists pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in sociology to advance their careers or work in academia. A master’s degree can take 1-2 years to complete, while a doctoral degree can take 4-6 years or more.
  • Gain research experience: While pursuing your degree, it’s important to gain research experience by working on research projects, assisting professors with their research, or conducting your own research projects. This experience can be helpful in gaining admission to graduate programs in sociology and in finding employment in the field.
  • Consider internships or volunteer work: Internships or volunteer work can be a great way to gain experience and make connections in the field. Look for opportunities to work with non-profit organizations, research institutions, or government agencies to gain hands-on experience.
  • Develop skills in data analysis: Sociologists need to have strong skills in data analysis, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. Consider taking courses or workshops in statistics, research methods, and data analysis software to develop these skills.
  • Network with professionals in the field: Attend conferences, join professional organizations, and network with other sociologists to make connections in the field and learn about job opportunities.

Famous Sociologist in History

Emile DurkheimThe Division of Labor in Society, Suicide, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life1858-1917, late 19th to early 20th century
Max WeberThe Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Economy and Society, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization1864-1920, late 19th to early 20th century
Karl MarxThe Communist Manifesto, Capital, The German Ideology1818-1883, 19th century
W.E.B. Du BoisThe Souls of Black Folk, Black Reconstruction in America, The Philadelphia Negro1868-1963, late 19th to mid-20th century
Jane AddamsTwenty Years at Hull-House, Democracy and Social Ethics, The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets1860-1935, late 19th to early 20th century
Talcott ParsonsThe Structure of Social Action, The Social System, Toward a General Theory of Action1902-1979, mid-20th century
Erving GoffmanThe Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Stigma, Frame Analysis1922-1982, mid-20th century
Michel FoucaultDiscipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality, Madness and Civilization1926-1984, mid-20th century
bell hooksAin’t I a Woman?, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, Teaching to Transgress1952-present, late 20th to early 21st century
Pierre BourdieuDistinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, The Rules of Art, The Forms of Capital1930-2002, late 20th century

About the author

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer