Some say sociology degrees are useless, but a new study published in the Canadian Review of Sociology has found that sociology graduates are competitive with grads in other fields of study in terms of both wages and employment.
Using a variety of sources from Statistics Canada, the study, entitled The Future Lives of Sociology Graduates, paints a portrait of the discipline – charting how many people, and who, become sociologists, as well as how satisfied they are with their degrees, where they are employed, and how much they earn.
“The paper demonstrates that sociology graduates hold their own in the labour market (employability, earnings, occupations),” says Neil Guppy, lead author of the paper and Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia.
“Given media pundits who were claiming sociology degrees were ‘worthless,’ we were pleased to see that such claims were nonsense,” says Guppy.
The study’s authors – who include Kerry Greer, Nicole Malette and Kristyn Frank –were surprised to find out exactly how many people living in Canada had training in sociology – around 200,000 people. But the study also reveals a sharp drop in the number of people who have completed sociology degrees in recent years. In fact, in 2013, sociology degrees made up just 1.7% of all Canadian university degrees. And while sociology graduates are competitive with other fields of study in terms of wages and employment, many report being unsatisfied with their degrees.
The authors suggest that the recent decline in the attractiveness of sociology as a major may be due to students either taking on a more utilitarian perspective when it comes to career choice, or to students seeing the discipline as increasingly out of touch with their interests (or both).
The authors stress that the discipline would be wise to pay more attention to its graduates and their opportunities.
Canadian Review of Sociology: Volume 54, Issue 2
Original Article: The Future Lives of Sociology Graduates
Neil Guppy, Kerry Greer, Nicole Malette, and Kristyn Frank