Here’s the Guardian’s answer to this interesting and important question:
Academics claim sociology is more than a subject – it’s a whole way of seeing the world. From the topics studied on sociology degrees, they may just be right.
Sociology is the study of human societies and how they interact to shape people’s beliefs, behaviours and identity. The subject is the academic cousin to the more practical social policy, so you will examine different social theories and models (expect mention of Karl Marx at least). You will also explore how society has changed over time, touching on subjects like industrialisation, urbanisation, inequality and globalisation.
You may find yourself investigating consumer society, looking at classic and contemporary (postmodern) theories of consumerism and applying these to shopping, fashion or music.
You could look at work and employment, how these are viewed in societies and how these views have changed over the years. Expect to explore issues of feminism, class and the trade union movement.
You could also study sexuality, religion, or youth culture and identity.
Sociology courses can often be studied alongside other complementary subjects, such as history, social policy, politics, or cultural or gender studies.
However we at Sociological Imagination don’t think this is a particularly good (or inspiring!) answer. How would you answer this question? What’s the point of Sociology? Why study it? What will you learn? How will it change how you see the world?
We’d love to hear your answers to this question. E-mail us your thoughts and we’ll compile the answers and post them online.