We are living in a world of dramatic and unprecedented social change: new technologies and cultural upheavals are transforming our lives. As prosperity grows and cultural taboos break down, millions of people in modern industrialized societies are confronted by more choices than ever about how to live their lives. However, it seems that the drive for ever greater prosperity and new-found freedoms and lifestyle choices come at a price, as rates of crime, mental disorder, drug addiction and self-harm continue to rise. So how did the world become this way? Why are people’s lives today so different from those of their parents and grandparents? What are the possibilities for our lives in the future? These are the questions that sociology asks and attempts to answer. As noted earlier, sociology is about trying to understand the social world, but it is also about trying to understand ourselves, and how societies make us who we are.
Generally, the course content can be divided into three parts: first, social theory and research. It concentrates on questions relating to the nature of sociology; the methods which sociologists use; methodology and the major sociological perspectives. The key aspects in relation to individuals and society are examined through the concepts of role, socialisation and identity. These subjects covered are essential for the other sections of the syllabus. Then it moves on to look at more specialist topics such as the sociology of organisations, crime & deviance and education where one locates your understanding of organisations, crime and education clearly within the sociological perspective and be aware of the many different explanations involved. Knowledge of the key debates that have been discussed in the first part is important, as in all cases you will be expected to use the key debates to inform your reading of these chosen subject areas. You will be expected to demonstrate knowledge of the relevant sociological theories when writing your assignments. Finally, having obtained some background on the nature of sociology and equipped with specialist topic areas mentioned above we want you to be able to apply what you know to one of the core sociological problems – social change. This part covers topics around social inequality and social injustice which leads on from previous topics of social theory and linked to subject topics of social power and globalisation.