A Sociologist Writes


Being an occasional series in which subject specialists inform the wider public of the value of their field of inquiry and address some common misconceptions. Today a sociologist writes ...


As a sociologist I am often asked: are you a complete waste of space? The short answer is, of course, that, in common with my fellow professionals I am, but a longer answer suggests that whilst I remain a complete waste of space, the status of my status is far from proven or easily established.



To begin with, I didn't become a sociologist by accident and considerable resource was required to get me where I am today. I, for example, was educated at the University of Afpuddle [BA] before taking a Masters course in Advanced Social Engineering at Alma Mater College Cambridge. Whilst this may have done me - and society in general - little demonstrable [and certainly no quantifiable] good, it did keep many others employed in sustaining me, training me and making me the generally over-unqualified and useless article that I now am. And of course I am not alone: the system has produced many like me. We can conclude from this that whilst I and many others like me remain a waste of space, the value-subtracting system responsible for reducing our individual and collective utility to zero is not itself an invalid or illegitimate process: it keeps other people gainfully employed [where would our revered Universities be without it!] and produces alumni who can later be contacted for donations in times of crisis ie during the present CONTRIK-69 pestilence. The only flaw in this otherwise admirable arrangement is that, being uselessly unemployed myself, I have little capacity to give back to the institution that made me the feckless shambolic and hollowed-out intellect that I am.


Let me now address some common misconceptions:


A recent Batcombe District Council recruitment poster.

Sociologists know a lot about society: though we spend a good deal of time and effort trying to define it, we still haven't cracked the basic problem of what society is.

Wherever you are in the world, you are never more than 3 yards from a sociologist: this is untrue. In some parts of Africa you can be at least 5 yards from a sociologist

Sociology is a recently established field of inquiry: no there have been fuckwits pontificating about relations between people and how to manipulate them since time immemorial [see Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus ... the Egyptian Book of the Dead ... the Odyssey ... the Mr Men books ... and any Party Election Manifesto].


We know more about Society now than they did in ancient times: no there have been fuckwits pontificating about relations between people and how to manipulate them since time immemorial [see Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus ... the Egyptian Book of the Dead ... the Odyssey ... the Mr Men books ... and any Party Election Manifesto].

Sociologists are completely unemployable: no they can be found around water-coolers in most local and central government offices. They can normally be identified through their habit of wearing a name tag, holding a clipboard and sporting a self-satisfied, know-it-all, smirk.

Society needs more Sociologists to make it better: this is a misconception which is in fact untrue but, sociologically speaking, completely valid.


Next time: A Geographer writes ...



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