Sociologist Characteristics

by Felicia Greene, Demand Media
    A sociologist often works with colleagues to produce a study report.

    A sociologist often works with colleagues to produce a study report.

    If you've ever observed a social group interaction, and stepped back to analyze the participants' actions, you've actually engaged in a bit of sociological research. If you develop conclusions about the behaviors you've seen, and share a written report with a social service agency professional, you've completed a sociological analysis that might help that professional better serve her clients. You've also demonstrated four skills that will help you excel as a sociologist.

    Relationship Skills

    To become an effective sociologist, you'll need top-notch relationship skills, especially the ability to talk to people from different socio-economic groups. Your ability to establish common ground with your interview subjects, and form good working relationships with other professionals, will improve your chances of producing good documentation. In addition, remember that some sociological studies may require both task force collaborations and independent research projects. Your ability to excel at both types of work can certainly enhance your career prospects.

    Scientific Approach

    You might say a sociologist conducts her research using a scientific mindset with no predisposition of what she will discover. For example, let's say you're asked to study a new cultural group within your community. You'll read everything you can find about the group's history. You'll view group members' dress, customs, personal interactions and religious observances objectively and respectfully. You'll understand that your interview transcripts, photos and videos will have more value if you have impartially documented your impressions.

    Analytical Abilities

    Once you amass a mountain of raw data from your interviews and observations, you'll need to interpret that data so you can answer the questions posed by your study. If you want to determine how a cultural group's social values change over members' life spans, for example, you'll interview group members from all age groups. Using your interview transcripts, professional expertise and guidelines from other sociological studies, you'll formulate conclusions designed to withstand independent analysis. Really, it's like solving a complex math problem, except you've eliminated the numbers.

    Communication Skills

    You might easily find a rapport with your study population and produce groundbreaking research that answers longstanding questions. If you can't communicate that information effectively, however, you probably won't get the professional respect you deserve. Cultivating your oral communication skills can be as simple as presenting an informal report to your office colleagues, which can lead to an invitation to present a paper at a regional conference. If you need some help flexing your writing muscle, you can work with a professional editing company to create a polished finished product.

    About the Author

    Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

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