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What Is a Sociologist?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2014
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A sociologist is a scientist who researches the effects of culture and civilization on people and their behavior. He may restrict his studies to a particular group or compare and contrast several or many segments of humanity. The majority of sociologists teach at colleges and universities or dedicate their careers to research. The remaining social scientists in this field generally work as counselors or act as consultants for professionals in the areas of psychology, law enforcement or social work.

The field of sociology is quite expansive, and most sociologists specialize in a particular area of interest. A popular topic of concentration is the socialization processes utilized by particular societies. In this area of focus, a sociologist usually delves into how class structures are formed based on family history, wealth and educational levels. He frequently follows the histories of a select group of families over a period of time.

Another popular sociology concentration is adolescent development. A considerable number of sociologists study the effects of adolescent guidance on the attitudes and accomplishments of the adults into which these young people evolve. These research projects normally include subjects from diverse ethnic and religious groups.

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To better understand societal behavior and attitudes on a global level, a sociologist may dedicate his studies to analyzing the effects rural or urban living has on people’s career and relationship choices. He may also focus his research on the effects society and its mores have on the physical, emotional and mental health of people who live in particular regions.

Professionals in this line of work generally conduct their research through a myriad of methods. A sociologist may favor traditional information gathering methods, such as reading reports, books and articles on his topic of choice. He may interview experts on a particular subject or study case histories prepared by his peers. He often creates surveys and questionnaires to gather information from a particular social segment of one or many populations.

A full-fledged sociologist typically must have a doctoral degree in sociology. A doctoral degree is normally required to teach sociology as a professor at a college or university as well. Those who have a bachelor’s degree in sociology often work as counselors or assist sociologists in research projects. A person with a master’s degree in sociology is normally considered qualified to work as a high school, college or university instructor or as a social worker for a public or government agency. In all of these positions, a sociologist is generally expected to have good communication and research skills.

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