Introduction to Sociology
What is Sociology?
Very simply, Sociology is the study of society. Sociologists are interested in explaining why society works the way it does and the extent to which our behaviour, experiences and life chances are shaped by our social class, age, gender and ethnicity.
Why study Sociology?
Because you have an interest in and want to understand the world in which you live – how and why it functions as it does and who has power and who has not. Sociology is a challenging yet inherently interesting and relevant subject. During the course of your studies, Sociology will get you to look at the world in new ways. You may begin to question some of your long-held assumptions you had taken for granted, about how society is organised and in whose interests it works. At the end you will certainly have a better understanding of the world around you and hopefully the motivation, confidence and skills to work to improve it! Through your studies, you will be asking questions such as:
- What explains the rise in the divorce rate and what consequences does the growth in single-parent and reconstituted families have for our society?
- Do we live in a meritocratic society where everyone has an equal chance to succeed or do some groups have more opportunities than others?
- Why is it that factors such as class, ethnicity and gender appear to impact on how well – or otherwise – we do at school?
- What explains the rise in extremism and religious fundamentalism in the world, sometimes leading to terrorism?
- Why does crime occur and how reliable are official statistics? Were the riots of 2011 the result of greed or can they be explained by more complex social factors? What can be done to reduce offending and anti-social behaviour?
- How powerful is the media in getting us to think and behave in certain ways? Is our behaviour controlled to a certain extent by advertising?
What careers is Sociology useful for?
Sociology is a well-respected academic discipline and is excellent preparation for a number of careers, including law, teaching, social work, journalism, marketing, the police, and the civil service, as well as the world of business and commerce.
Key Stages KS4 & KS5
Aims and rationale:
To develop students' understanding of the social processes that influence the behaviour of individuals and groups in society. We aim to engage young people in various sociological debates that are present in our society. Students are encouraged to make critical assessments of sociological views so that they too form their own sociological opinion and identity. The curriculum is delivered with the view that the students have embarked on a four-year course. Continuity in both assessment procedures and strategies for developing subject knowledge form a consistent pattern of teaching and learning over the four years.
While discussion and debate form the core teaching style, developing skills that secure success in academia is a key mission in the course delivery. Students are, for example, shown how to read challenging material and extract crucial information. They are coached through essay-writing techniques that enable them to write critical and evaluative arguments. Students are also trained in revision strategies that help them to reduce our broad curriculum down to manageable ‘chunks’. To this end, homework typically involves the production of revision materials throughout the year so that preparation for exams takes place over time and reduces anxiety. We are delighted to say that Hitchin Girls' School plays host to one of the exam board's Senior Lead Examiners for Sociology. For many years now, we have invited schools from around Hertfordshire to attend his revision conference for A Level students.
Mr Ward is currently the sole teacher for our mixed-ability classes at both GCSE and A Level, where all students are supported in achieving their potential on the course and beyond in higher education.
GCSE Sociology specification:
A Level Sociology specification: