What Is Sociology?

Sociology focuses on life in groups; the social contexts in which people live. At the centre of the sociological perspective is the question of how people are influenced by their society; a group of people who share a culture and a territory, and in turn, how individuals influence the groups and society to which we belong. To find out why people do what they do, sociologists look at social location, where people are located in a particular society; their jobs, income, education, gender, age, ethnicity and race, as well as many other social characteristics.

Sociology is the study of human group life. Unlike political scientists and economists, sociologists do not concentrate on a single social institution. Unlike anthropologists, sociologists focus primarily on industrialized societies. And unlike psychologists, sociologists stress factors external to the individual to determine what influences people. To study people, sociologists use research methods such as interviews, questionnaires, field experiments and participant observation. (Adapted from Henslin et al, 2004)

Why study Sociology?

The practical value of taking a sociology course is that what you learn will never be irrelevant to your life, present and future. Each of us lives in the social world; each of us is influenced by others and hopes to influence others. Studying sociology will strengthen your ability to understand how the social world operates and what your place is in it. Whether your group life involves your family, your peer group, your work world or your ethnic group, sociology offers a way to understand your behaviour and that of your fellow humans. It will enhance your ability to act effectively in the social world. (Adapted from McIntyre, 2002)


Vanier College offers sociology courses at four levels: initiation, analysis, application and enrichment. These are specifically chosen and designed to meet the needs and interests of any student in the Social Science Program. They are also interesting complementary courses for students in all disciplines.

The initiation course – Individual and Society – is a comprehensive introduction to the fascinating field of sociology. It is a prerequisite for all other sociology courses and also fulfills one of the initiation course requirements in the Social Science Profile.

At the analysis level, students are given the opportunity to examine particular and relevant social issues in greater depth. All these courses satisfy the analysis level requirements of the Social Science Program.

The application courses encourage students to deepen their knowledge by using the basic sociological theories and methods to investigate current social issues. All these courses satisfy the application level requirements of the Social Science Program

The enrichment course – Current Issues in Sociology – is specifically designed for students in the social sciences to examine and write about current social issues at an advanced level. The initiation course and one other sociology course are prerequisites. This course also satisfies the enrichment level requirement of the Social Science Program.


Sociology is people oriented. So if you want to work with people, for people, trying to figure out people, trying to influence people – what could be more appropriate than sociology?
Where do Sociologists Work?

Sociology graduates will find that job titles rarely include the word ‘sociology’, and there are not many newspaper employment ads that use the term ‘sociologist’. ALL EMPLOYERS, however, want to hire people who can think, analyse, respond appropriately to problems, and communicate effectively. Sociology courses provide this training. People with Sociology degrees work in a wide variety of occupations in management, government and human services. Here are some places sociology graduates work:

Business and Industry:

  • Industrial Relations
  • Human Resources
  • Consumer Relations
  • Market Research
  • Urban Planning
  • Public Relations
  • Demographics/population analysis
  • Project Management


  • Community Affairs
  • Affirmative Action
  • Foreign Service
  • Human Rights
  • Social Research
  • Statistics Canada
  • Personnel Coordination

Human and Social Services:

  • Child Protection Services
  • Women’s Shelters
  • Social Research
  • Public Administration
  • Community Organizer
  • Public Health
  • Rehabilitation Programs
  • Group Homes


  • Teaching
  • Various Careers in Education
  • Corrections/prisons
  • Information Analysis
  • Criminal Investigations
  • General Research and Analysis
  • Journalism

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