Is sociology a STEM major?

In this post we are going to answer the question ‘’Is sociology a STEM major?’’ We will define what sociology is and describe the characteristics that make it a science and why its role is so important today.

Is sociology a STEM major?

Yes, sociology is a STEM major. According to the National Science Foundation, STEM fields include social and behavioral sciences, such as sociology. 

Sociology is grouped within the social sciences and its purpose is to scientifically analyze human society and populations.

To do this, primarily, it analyzes the way in which citizens and communities are impacted by political, historical, cultural, economic, migratory and even artistic phenomena.

This tells us that sociology starts from the following criteria: the behavior of the masses is directly related to the contexts and events they have experienced.

That is why we see how in certain regions and countries there are patterns of thought and behavior that are repeated in a large part of citizens since they and their families have been impacted by the same historical and social elements.

Sociology occupies a prominent position among a group of disciplines (which also include anthropology, economics, and political science) generally referred to as the social sciences.

But can we really study human social life in a “scientific” way? To answer this question, first of all, we must understand the main characteristics of science as a form of intellectual enterprise.

What’s science?

What is science? Science is the use of systematic methods of investigation, theoretical thinking, and logical examination of arguments to develop a body of knowledge about a particular object.

Scientific work depends on a mixture of daringly innovative thinking and the careful disposition and control of evidence to support or discard hypotheses and theories. 

Information and ideas accumulated during scientific study and discussion are always tentative to some extent: open to review, or even to be discarded entirely, in light of new evidence or argument.

Is sociology a science?

When we ask: is sociology a science? We mean two things: is it possible to configure this discipline closely following the model of natural science procedures? And can sociology hope to achieve the same kind of accurate, well-founded knowledge that natural scientists have developed regarding the physical world?

These questions have always been somewhat controversial, but over a long period most sociologists answered in the affirmative. They argued that sociology can, and should, resemble natural science in its procedures and in the character of its discoveries (a perspective sometimes known as positivism).

This conception is now considered naive. Like the rest of the social “sciences,” sociology is a scientific discipline in the sense that it involves systematic research methods, the analysis of data, and the examination of theories in the light of evidence and logical discussion.

Why is sociology not considered a science?

Studying human beings, however, is different from observing events in the physical world, and neither the logical framework nor the discoveries of sociology can be adequately understood from comparisons with natural science.

In investigating social life, sociologists deal with activities that are meaningful to the people who engage in them.

Unlike objects in nature, human beings are self-conscious beings who give meaning and purpose to what they do. We cannot even describe social life exactly unless we first grasp the meanings that people apply to their behavior.

The fact that we cannot study human beings exactly like the objects of nature is, in some respects, an advantage for sociology; in others, it creates difficulties that natural scientists do not encounter.

Sociological researchers benefit from being able to ask questions directly of those they study: other human beings.

On the other hand, people who know that their activities are being studied many times will not behave in the same way as they normally do.

For example, when individuals answer questionnaires, they can consciously or unconsciously give an image of themselves that differs from their usual attitudes. They may even try to “help” the investigator by giving him the answers they think he wants.

Why IS sociology a science?

Sociologists aspire to distancing themselves in their research and theoretical thinking, trying to study the social world without prejudice. A good sociologist will try to set aside biases that may prevent ideas or evidence from being fairly scrutinized.

But no one is totally free from bias on all issues, and inevitably only to a certain extent is it possible to develop such attitudes toward hotly contested issues.

However, objectivity does not depend solely, or even fundamentally, on the perspective of individual researchers. It has to do with methods of observation and discussion. Here the public character of the discipline is of essential importance.

Because research findings and reports are available for review – published in articles, monographs, or books – others can check the findings. Claims made on the basis of research findings can be critically examined, and personal biases may be dismissed by others.

Specifically, what functions do sociology and its specialists fulfil?

Sociology has become a broad science, with different applications and elements of study.

Among the things that this discipline and its specialists do, the following stand out:

Explain processes and trends in the sociological field

Aware of the relevance that sociology has acquired before society, its specialists have the responsibility of explaining how the processes and tasks of the same are carried out.

They should also educate communities and expose to public opinion those emerging sociological trends that can represent concrete solutions to various problems.

Develop new theories and concepts from the sociological field

The importance of sociology for societies is due, in large part, to the fact that this science has been able to adapt to the new demands of communities and to the changes that have occurred in the dynamics of people’s lives.

This is because its specialists are constantly in search of new theories, concepts and processes that provide greater scope and effectiveness, meeting the needs of contemporary societies.

Propose arguments for understanding social dynamics

Another mission of sociology is to explain to organizations and specialists from other fields the way in which social dynamics are developing and what are the most relevant characteristics and aspects of it.

These explanations are based on solid arguments, studies and verified and objective facts, which give context and validity to any statement or proposal.

Develop strategies for solving social problems

Once they identify social problems, sociologists do the job of offering proposals for improvements based on their experiences and the solid data they collected.

Generally, the strategies promoted by these specialists go beyond sociology itself, but instead raise awareness about the importance of multidisciplinary teams and even the involvement of community actors.

Design research projects that address issues of interest

By knowing the problems of society and the dynamics of its functioning, psychology specialists identify and propose research projects that can generate a favorable impact.

Apply high-level research methodological strategies

Once they study a possible research project and approve it, it is the responsibility of sociology experts to apply the most successful methodological strategies and techniques that are consistent with the results to be achieved and the object of the investigation.

Promote programs that benefit the disadvantaged

Since its inception, sociology is a science related to humanism and social intervention that has focused especially on favoring the most vulnerable populations.

That is why it promotes programs and mechanisms to provide satisfaction to the less favored and develop opportunities for personal growth.

Why is sociology important?

If you study Sociology you will gain a number of very valuable skills. You will learn to work independently. You will learn to find information, extract what is important from it and turn it into a discussion. You will learn to work collaboratively with others and how to work effectively without the need for supervision.

All Sociology degrees teach research methods, of these, you will learn to generate new knowledge and information through tools, such as social surveys, you will be able to interpret through statistics, in-depth interviews, you will be able to analyze the language used in the texts of the media, etc. 

You will learn to conduct research both with others and on your own.

If you’ve read this far, you should already have an idea, at least basic, of the relevance of sociology for populations and nations.

However, you still have a lot to learn on the subject. Therefore, pay attention to these specific and concrete reasons why this science is so important to our society

Are you considering it? We tell you the 5 reasons why you should train with a career in Sociology:

Analysis capacity

It is the main skill that is transmitted in this career, and one of the most requested in today’s world of work. With a sociology degree, you will be an expert in analyzing situations!

Data

Today’s world revolves around data. Today, all companies have information bases that need to be analyzed and governed to reach the stipulated objectives.

Investigation

This is a career that requires hours of research, but far from the laboratory. It will make you an expert in qualitative and quantitative research. And this only increases job opportunities as the business world increasingly needs researchers in their areas of work.

Amplitude

A sociologist can work in the public and private sphere, in an NGO, in Universities and all kinds of projects.

 

Advance

Understanding the different realities is the first step to change them and thus promote social development.

Choosing the right training for each student profile is not easy. It is not enough to select a university degree, but it is necessary to think about a future for the selected profession.

In the case of Sociology, more and more areas require the knowledge of these professionals. So betting on this type of training can make a difference when looking for a job.

The Sociologist can work in public or private organizations in matters of health, social and educational services as well as aspects related to justice, in consultancies, in human resources or international relations departments, in universities and in non-governmental organizations.

There is no doubt about the importance of sociology in the world and how exciting this science can be as a field of specialization and profession.

So, would you like to know what you need to do to become an expert in sociology? The answer is really very simple: get involved with a high-level academic program related to this area.

FAQS: Is sociology a STEM major?

What is considered a STEM major?

The word STEM is an acronym that has its origin in the English acronym for the following words: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. So we could say that STEM careers are those that are related to the following areas of knowledge.

Is statistics a STEM major?

Yes, statistics is a STEM (Mathematics) major. 

What fields are in STEM?

STEM fields include subjects such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, geosciences, biology, mathematics, physics, and social science.

What percent of majors are stem?

Around 331,000 (18 percent) of the 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2015-16 were in STEM fields. The percentage of bachelor’s degrees awarded varied by race/ethnicity in STEM fields.

How many STEM jobs go unfilled?

By 2018, there were over 2 million unfilled STEM jobs.

In this post we answered the question ‘’Is sociology a STEM major?’’ We defined what sociology is and described the characteristics that make it a science and why its role is so important today.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!

References

Footnotes | February 2013 Issue | Vantage Point � From the Executive Officer: Sociology Is a STEM Discipline. (2013). Retrieved November 15, 2020, from Asanet.org website: https://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/savvy/footnotes/feb13/vp_0213.html

How does sociology integrate into STEM fields? Retrieved November 15, 2020, from ResearchGate website: https://www.researchgate.net/post/How_does_sociology_integrate_into_STEM_fields

‌Ritzer, G. (1975). Sociology: A multiple paradigm science. The American Sociologist, 156-167.

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