How Relevant is a Sociology Degree?
Most of us, when we are considering a major, want to be sure that we can find a job, earn an adequate salary, and maybe even make our mark on the world. Students often wonder what they can do with a sociology degree, and parents may be reluctant to foot the bill for the study of sociology. After all, there are very few high profile sociologists, right? Actually, many famous people—both past and present—received sociology degrees.
Sociologists who were famous for their sociological work
Ever hear of WEB Du Bois, pioneer in civil rights activism, who opposed Booker T. Washington’s accommodationist politics and wrote The Souls of Black Folks?
What about C. Wright Mills who wrote The Power Elite, or Jane Addams, one of the founders of Chicago’s Hull House (which provided social services to poor, inner-city residents)?
More recently, sociologists such as Lillian Rubin (Worlds of Pain),
Barry Glassner (The Culture of Fear)
and popular speaker, columnist, and relationship adviser, Pepper Schwartz have garnered popular attention with work that resonates with the American psyche.
Thinking of going into politics, and wondering what a sociology degree will do for you?
Would you be surprised to learn that former President Ronald Reagan double majored in sociology and economics?
Or that first lady, Michele Obama, has a bachelor’s degree in sociology?
Thinking of becoming a member of Congress? Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), Maxine Waters, (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Tim Holden (D-PA) are all current or former members of Congress.
What about community organizing or activism? Then you’re in good company–
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Ralph David Abernathy,
Jesse Jackson, Sr.
and the father of community organizing, Saul Alinsky, all held sociology degrees.
Are arts and entertainment more your style?
Did you know that Dan Aykroyd,
and Regis Philbin all got degrees in sociology—as did Dinah Shore and Dr. Ruth (‘The Sex Doctor’) Westheimer?
What about actress Gabrielle Union? She’s a sociology major, too.
Even the wife of Irish Band U2’s lead singer Bono (Ali Hewson) holds a sociology degree.
Writer Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People you Meet in Heaven) has his degree in sociology,
and don’t forget that Catholic priest and steamy novel writer Andrew Greeley is a sociologist, too.
Interested in sports?
Levon Kirkland who played professional football with the Steelers, Seahawks, and Eagles has a B.A. in Sociology.
Other famous athletes with sociology degrees include: former NBA star,
Alonzo Mourning of the Miami Heat;
Brian Jordan who played with both the MLB and NFL;
and NFL Quarterback, Joe Theismann.
Sociology is actually an excellent major for persons with a wide range of interests. Because it focuses on analyzing and understanding the world around us, it provides majors with the ability to view issues from all sides, and with the analytic tools to link personal issues with social and historical trends (C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination). With a sociology degree, you may decide upon ‘occupation: sociologist,’ or you may go as far as your sociological imagination takes you!