Tuesday, December 6, 2011

As a sociologist, how do you keep from getting super bummed?

The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with a woman who just got her Master's degree in sociology, and is about to start teaching community college. She wanted my advice on teaching. I told her I am still figuring things out, but I did have some advice. After talking about teaching, we started talking about sociology...

Me: What kind of things do you study, as a sociologist?

Sociologist: Social problems, power relationships, racism, discrimination, human trafficking. How social institutions affect peoples' lives. How they work. For my thesis, I went to South Africa and interviewed people who lived through Apartheid.

Me: That's amazing. I guess I've been doing a bit of sociology lately. I'm reading these interviews with people who lived in Fullerton during the days of the Ku Klux Klan, housing discrimination, overt racism.

Sociologist: Exactly.

Me: One problem I've encountered with studying this stuff is that it really bums me out. As a sociologist, how do you keep from getting super bummed?

Sociologist: That's a good question. In college, I would get really depressed. But what I do now is try to apply my knowledge to how I live my life, to share it with others. I just love learning. I try to be an activist too, working with non-profits and community groups.

Me: Yeah. What gives me hope, I guess, is that with understanding and positive action, change can come.

Sociologist: And we can make change in little ways, just in our local communities.

Me: I have tried to do that. Act locally. I can't fix the world, but I can help make my community a little better.

Sociologist: Exactly, that's the counter-measure to the depression.


1 comment:

  1. I think living the application of your study is truly the gift your heart needs. At the Southern Sociology Societies annual meeting this past May, Dr. Edward, Bonilla-Silva, a Sociologist who teaches at Duke gave a keynote speech on racism in the field of Sociology. (this is another post all together) One of the topics within that talk was the need for us to take our studies to the public. Instead of just arguing within the confines of academia (which is a valuable thing) he said that practical efforts to actively engage the public, advocate for change and to demonstrate the frameworks of our practices are critical to growth and change in Sociology and society. It was a very powerful message and one that resonates deeply when I get "bummed".