Generally, when I tell someone that I’m studying sociology, I receive an unenthused “oh cool!” as their eyes glaze over. They don’t know what it is and they don’t really care to ask. But man, sociology is cool. If you were wondering, sociology is “the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.” Or, as I see it, the study of everything. Sociology is incredibly fascinating, yet unfortunately, it’s not often understood outside of those who study it. For those of us who are sociology majors…well, here’s what it’s like.
Everything is fake but also everything is real.
The moment that you learn and understand that society is socially constructed is the moment your life changes. Society isn’t real. Race isn’t real. Hell, the fact that cereal is a breakfast food or that pajamas should be worn at night isn’t real. Humans made up the whole thing. But at the same time…it’s very real, because we believe it, do it, and act in certain ways because of it. Your brain hurt yet?
You are suddenly very aware of every weird thing that humans do.
I spent a good ten minutes the other day staring at the ponytail holder on my wrist and wondering when humans decided to use their wrists both as an area of storage and as a place for accessories. Yeah. Ever think about, really think about, why everyone faces the same way in an elevator? Ever tried facing the other way – the “wrong” way? Did people look at you weird? Why? Have you considered why boys and girls wear different length shorts? Or why we shave? Or why balloons signify celebration?
There is no reason that we do these things. They aren’t a part of the natural world. They didn’t exist before us. Humans just started deciding to do things certain ways and everyone went along with it. Once you learn about social construction and can see past social norms…you just really can’t stop thinking about everything.
It’s just so obvious…once you know it. If everyone could just understand…
You learned it, it clicked, and now you see everything in a whole new light. It’s so clear to you…why doesn’t everyone else get it?
We all have moments in which we just want to scream “GENDER IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT” or “STOP HATING EACH OTHER – RACE DOESN’T F***ING EXIST.”
And yet, it can be so hard to help others “see the light.” Society has a pretty tight grip on all of us. Even those who have studied it for decades aren’t completely out of society's reach. But sometimes, we just wish we could change it all.
You often have grandiose plans to change the world.
There have been at least a few times when you’ve thought that you could write a book, expose the truth about society, and change the world. You’ve wanted to shout from the mountaintops, “HEY GUYS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT TO EACH OTHER. YOU CAN JUST STOP, AND THAT’S OKAY, BECAUSE WE MADE UP THE RULES, SO WE CAN CHANGE THE RULES.”
But then you take a step back and remember that change takes time and much more than one person, and that just because you’ve studied the problem doesn’t mean you know how to fix it…but boy, do you want to.
Every theory makes so much sense until you realize that half of them contradict one another.
For anyone who’s ever taken a theory class…does this sound familiar? “Marx is a genius! Durkheim nailed it! Weber has got it right! Shoot…they all contradict each other?” We love (most of the time) our theorists and the work they’ve done, but sometimes we just wish they’d given us a straight path to follow.
You meet some pretty cool people.
From professors to classmates to speakers, the people who study sociology are downright cool. They’re open-minded and curious and wise. They have studied the coolest topics and they ask the best questions and they know how to hold an intelligent debate.