Sociology is the scientific study of human society and social behavior. The sociological perspective invites students to look at their familiar surroundings as though for the first time. It allows students to get a fresh view of a world they have always taken for granted, to examine their world with the same curiosity and fascination that they might bring to an exotic, alien culture.
Sociology also gives students a window on the wider world that lies beyond their immediate experience, leading them into areas of society that they might otherwise have ignored or misunderstood, into the worlds of the rich and powerful, the poor and weak, the worlds of cult members, the elderly, and juvenile delinquents. Because these people have different social experiences, they have quite different definitions of social reality. Sociology enables students to appreciate viewpoints other than their own, to understand how these viewpoints came into being and, in the process, to better understand their own lives.
Understanding the structure and process of society is necessary before ineffective, unjust, or harmful social arrangements can be changed. Good social policy and the eradication of social problems are not possible without an understanding of what caused the problem, the barriers that stand in the way of a solution, and the problems a particular solution might in turn create.
The sociology department encourages its majors to both understand society and to act upon that knowledge to improve themselves and their society. Students are taught how to ask significant questions about the world around them, how to design and implement sociological research, and how to examine the ethical implications of their research.
Opportunities for Nonmajors
All of the department’s courses are open to nonmajors. Most upper-level courses require Sociology 1110: Introduction to Sociological Thinking. Courses that may appeal to nonmajors include: SOC 3370: Families in Crisis; SOC 1330: Women, Men, and Society; and SOC 3530: Political Sociology. Many interdisciplinary majors require or strongly recommend specific sociology courses; for example, Urban Studies - Urban Sociology; Global Studies - Racial and Cultural Minorities; Criminal Justice - Criminology.
Hamline has a chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta, an international sociology honor society. The Betty Green Award is given annually to an outstanding sociology major, and sociology majors are eligible to apply for the Amy Russell Award and Carol Young Anderson Scholarship for deserving social science majors.
Students who do internships choose from a large variety of community organizations and social agencies operating in the Twin Cities. They work 10-12 hours per week at their internship site and study the latest issues in the field. This experience allows students to test their understanding of sociology by applying it to the world around them.
While the internship program is not designed to find employment for students after graduation, many do find job opportunities with their internship agency or similar agencies. For many students, the internship provides a testing ground to determine their suitability for a particular profession. Recent students have worked as juvenile probation officers, advocates for battered women, telephone crisis-line counselors, volunteer coordinators for in-home services for the elderly, and staff in an emergency food aid agency.
As with most undergraduate degrees, a major in sociology does not provide automatic access to any specific career. Most sociologists do some combination of three basic activities: teaching, research, and managing people or programs. What students can do with a BA in sociology depends upon a combination of factors including the ever-changing job market and the student’s specific qualifications–courses, skills, work experience, and professional contacts. A major in sociology provides good preparation for students going into many areas, including law, social work, and social policy planning.
Melissa Sheridan Embser-Herbert, professor. BA 1978, George Washington University; MA 1990, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; PhD 1995, University of Arizona; JD 2004, Hamline University. Social problems, inequality, law. Author of The U.S. Military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy: A Reference Handbook.
Margaret Jensen, professor. Honors BA 1971, MA 1974, PhD 1980, McMaster University. Crime and delinquency, family. Author of Love’s Sweet Return: The Harlequin Romance Story, an analysis of popular romantic fiction, and A Man for the Night, a Harlequin romance.
Martin Markowitz, professor. BA 1967, Hofstra University; MA 1970, PhD 1972, State University of New York-Stony Brook. Political sociology, urban, racial and cultural minorities, social organization, popular culture.
Navid Mohseni, professor. BS 1978, Teheran Business College; MA, PhD 1990, University of Kentucky. Critical theory, research methods, sociology of arts, macrosociology.
Sharon E. Preves, associate professor, chair. BA 1991, Hamline University; PhD 1999, University of Minnesota. Sociology of gender, sexuality, medicine, social psychology. Author of Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self.