Blag your degree: Number 08, Sociology

Created by positivist thinker Auguste Comte in the early 19th century, Sociology is an attempt to understand society, its stratifications and its effect on the individual. Its subsequent revelations, such as that people who spend forty years breathing in asbestos dust tend to have shorter life expectancies, and that those in high-income jobs tend to have high incomes, highlight the success of Sociology in fulfilling Comte’s vision.

The first golden rule for Sociology students is that you can prove absolutely everything. How do we know that the Conservative Party is prejudiced against women, ethnic minorities and the disabled? Because they’ve never had a female Bangladeshi Siamese twin as leader. At least the Labour government had that blind bloke.

The second golden rule is that you can disprove absolutely everything. How do we know that the Conservative Party is not prejudiced against women, ethnic minorities and the disabled? Because they say so, that’s why; William Hague wore a baseball cap, he must be in touch with contemporary society. Besides, that David Cameron has such a nice smile.

These two rules may lead some of you to question the point of Sociology. Well unfortunately there isn’t one. Its existence is futile. A Sociologist could spend a lifetime researching the way in which Brummies are marginalised by society only to have some acne-ridden sixteen-year old contradict every word as he scrapes a pass at GCSE.

But do not despair. The fact that you can affirm, or indeed refute, any statement with highly selective examples from the outside world means that you can guide the most outrageous, or alternatively the most blatantly, brain-haemorrhagingly obvious, hypothesis through to a successful conclusion. Any demands for you to quantify your findings can be satisfied by subjecting the two people who happen to be using your kitchen that day to multiple choice questions that offer the interviewee no chance whatsoever of allowing their own opinion to influence their answers. Simply multiply their responses by 2,000 and you have your essay and, in time, your degree.
  
Incidentally, the 4,000 people questioned agreed with me about this, so don’t bother writing in.

If you would like to write these words on this page, e-mail: [email protected]

Matthew Wignall.

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