Sociologists seek to describe and explain patterns of social change. Social institutions do not stay the same which means that we need to consider changes in the mosaic of our responsibilities. For example, as a result of changes in population composition we find families, churches, universities and nations are transformed both intentionally and unintentionally creating changes in our roles as children, parents, members, citizens and students.
Sociology also involves the study of social policy in an attempt to apply what is learned through research to the major issues confronting societies. For example, sociologists are currently studying the consequences of the transformation of the welfare state into the brave new world of economic rationalism. Sociology investigates social trends and seeks an historical understanding of the processes of social organisation and change in order to be able to assist in the development of sound social policy.
How do sociologists do all this? By being involved in societies, living with the data, engaging in social action, reflecting on social change. Sociology is not a cold disembodied rationality but invites active participation. Observation plays a critical role in data collection requiring sensitive listening, watching and careful reporting. Sociologists use such data as the census, labour statistics, health and welfare statistics to keep a finger on the pulse of a society. Sociologists collect information on attitudes, behaviours, and other aspects of our social life in order to find out what is happening and to compare various parts of the social world.
In doing this sociologists find a range of theories to help guide their studies, to provide insight into the nature and operation of the social and to interpret what they observe. All of this is done in a community of discourse because as sociologists have long known the group often sees more than the individual.
Much can be gained through a carefully structured course in which your study of society is conducted in a sustained and disciplined fashion. The critical student welcomes the opportunity to question and criticise taken-for-granted beliefs and attitudes. The sociology staff place a very high emphasis on the teaching program and interaction with students.