A brief introduction on applied sociology By Dr Zuleyka Zevallos, 23 May 2009.1 The aim of this article is to broadly sketch what it means to be working as an applied sociologist. I begin with a general introduction into the discipline of sociology, before providing a definition of its applied branch. I then provide a concise […]
Sociology at Work provides articles, videos, podcasts, graphics and other resources to promote the excellence of applied sociologists and to support the career planning of sociology students. Our site was created as a network to help practitioners who work beyond academia. Make sure to write comments and questions, and connect with us on social media […]
Issue 1, June 2010 Welcome to the Inaugural Edition of Working Notes. By The Editors Working Notes is the online journal for Sociology At Work. We provide a platform for applied sociologists to share their work experiences, with a view to expanding recognition of what sociologists can do and enhancing how the discipline of sociology promotes sociological practices. […]
Here’s a brief visual overview about how sociology is used beyond universities. Applied sociology is the use of sociological concepts and methods to answer specific client questions and to address community concerns. This video covers: what is sociology? What sorts of questions and problems can applied sociology address? What type of work do applied sociologists do?
I am a sociologist by trade, having completed my undergraduate work at University of Western Sydney (UWS), a PhD with the amazingly wonderful Gary Dowsett at Macquarie and then a Postdoctoral Fellow in Health Sciences at the University of Sydney.
I can see two clear aspects to my career – the part where I undertook deep sociological thinking, research and writing and the part where I have wanted to bring those ideas and other peoples’ ideas into reality through policy and social changes. I did my best deep thinking, reading and writing while employed within the academy during my doctorate and then as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Sydney, working on an ARC post-doc to examine the social aspects of hearing loss. Four years of research bliss that I think has spoilt me for life! Notably, I have done some of my best advocacy and research work outside the academy. It is this latter experience that I want to share with you in this brief paper. Read more →
Throughout my postgraduate experience I have operated within both the worlds of academia and commercial enterprise. I am perhaps a strange hybrid because I have entwined my ‘sociological imagination’ with my interest in a movement referred to as ‘positive psychology’ – in lay terms: life coaching. As I have worked through the various stag es of my PhD, I have also baby-step by baby- step, built a corporate wellbeing business, which is (I hope) positioned to take some thing of a quantum leap now that my thesis has been submitted. In this article, for ease of reading, I will refer to my research and teaching work as my ‘academic’ work and the work I do running my business as my ‘commercial’ work.
Until recently, I worked at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) as a researcher in the area of family law and post-separation parenting. I am now at the Australian National University (ANU) building a research program around family law issues. While both workplaces have very different cultures with respect to collegiality, intellectual property, and bureaucratic process, the reality is that not much has changed. In essence, I continue to work as an applied sociologist conducting specific ‘problem-focused’ research directed at pressing policy problems (e.g. Why after divorce do one in four children in Australia have little or no cont act with their father?) Read more →
In this piece I write about my clinical observations and experiences from the perspective of a sociological ‘other’. While I work primarily as a registered nurse in a rural community mental health facility, I also have a background in sociology. Despite the current context of my clinical work, I readily identify as a clinical sociologist because I strive in my day-to-day work to challenge the status quo by unsettling some of the taken-for-granted assumptions about medic al interventions that underscore much of psychiatric/ biomedical practice.
This paper demonstrates the divide that exists when attempting to apply a sociological perspective to risk management that is underpinned by health policy and biomedical imperatives. Read more →
I’d like to share with you my experience of trying to engage academic sociologists on my interdisciplinary work.
Interdisciplinary research is highly valued outside academia, while academia mostly pays lip service to interdisciplinary work. Within academia, much of the the interdisciplinary “praise singing” of interdisciplinary work lies in its theorisation – what is interdisciplinary research, how should it be done, how might it theoretically change the world. Yet actual interdisciplinary work where researchers from different disciplines all work on the same end product together – that is largely being done by applied social scientists and our colleagues from other fields. I’ve worked in a couple of interdisciplinary environments and social science has been highly valued. It’s been my experience, and that of a few of my applied colleagues, that our interdisciplinary work is not similarly valued by our academic peers. How can this change?
The great German sociologist Ulrich Beck has died at the age of 70. Like many sociologists, I was influenced by his writing and also like many others, I did not always agree with his theories. Either way, Beck never failed to challenge our sociological imaginations in an esteemed international career spanning over two decades.
Elsewhere, I wrote about what Beck’s conception of public sociology might mean for applied sociologists. In How Not to Become a Museum Piece, Ulrich argues that sociology has permeated many applied fields. He finds sociological concepts and methods are being used in government, journalism, social policy and law enforcement, but they’ve been transformed so they aren’t recognisable as sociology. As Ulrich argues, this is not necessarily a bad thing.