How come – at least in the UK –you don’t come across people working in industry, business, the civil service, or pretty much anywhere outside academia or independent research organisations, who have ‘sociologist’ in their job title? Sociologists seem to all reside in universities, unlike psychologists and economists, who have colonised all kinds of settings. There just don’t seem to be any practical sociology jobs out there.
And yet most sociologists believe our subject is essential for understanding the world around us. Or to resolve contemporary problems, from gender violence to climate change. We have the concepts (like ‘cultural capital’ or ‘moral panic’) and the theories (social mobility, socialisation). But where are the practical sociology jobs? Why do so few of those ideas in the sociology journals get applied on a daily basis?
Of course, sociology graduates work in all kinds of jobs, using their knowledge to greater or lesser extent. And some do make a living as independent ‘consulting sociologists’. In the US, people have jobs as ‘clinical sociologists’, addressing problems for all sorts of organisations and corporations.
But what would it take to establish a ‘practical sociology’ in the UK and elsewhere, with sociologists employed to use sociology concepts and models to address problems in industry, business, government, education or health?
In 2016, we’re planning an event that aims to establish an agenda for practical sociology. These are some pressing questions to answer if sociology is to break out from the academy into the outside world.
What has prevented the emergence of practical sociology in the UK?
What are the core knowledge and models that are needed to solve the problems that organisations, businesses and the public sector face?
What kinds of skills would be needed to work as a practical sociologist?
How would a practical sociology career pan out?
We’ll keep you posted. If you’d like us to contact you directly with updates, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with the e-mail subject “subscribe to practical sociology”.
Nick J Fox, BSA Sociologists outside Academia
Categories: Committing Sociology
Tags: practical sociology