One of the features we introduced in Contexts was the student column “What I Learned.” Kind of in that vein, I just came across a little commentary written for the undergraduate sociology newsletter by one of our own, Contexts research assistant Alex “Sweet Al” Casey. Perhaps we can’t take credit for it, but the piece is written with a certain flair and takes the kind of big view on the world and the field we are always looking for. So, without further ado:

“Is sociology ruining your fun?
By Alex Casey

You may have learned by now that Sociology majors don’t make the best movie dates, and odds are we Soc majors have probably annoyed our friends on more than one occasion. Those of us trained to think sociologically simply can’t accept anything at face-value, even when we desperately want to. Furthermore, we possess the annoying habit of explaining this fact to others.

You begin to notice times when your family laughs at a commercial while you’re debating the effects of its use of gay stereotypes. Your friends might be moved to tears during a heart-warming drama, but you’re busy identifying the replication of racial power dynamics. And when you get roped into playing dolls with your little cousin, you interrogate a five-year-old about why boy dolls can’t cook dinner, too.

Even if we spoil a friend’s favorite Disney movie, those things aren’t necessarily all bad – and thinking in a sociological style is important. No matter the field you ultimately end up in, there is tremendous value in questioning a presented “fact,” in understanding different viewpoints, and in recognizing the social assumptions existing within the seemingly mundane. Learning sociology shouldn’t be about memorizing solutions to social woes, but examining the world from a lens that aggregates each piece of the puzzle, and seeing the big picture when most do not.

So remain critical of the world around you. The beauty of the sociologically-enthused is that we aren’t know-it-alls with every answer, but we do know, before we accept anything, what questions should be asked.”