The Office Sociologist

A degree in Sociology is not an instant sentence to spending a lifetime as a college professor or working for non profits. Whatever endeavor an individual winds up in as a career, there are so many elements of a core education in sociology, philosophy, logic, reason, statistics, the social scientific method, and even experiments in general, that can be applied in any career.

In the military, officers and non commissioned officers often find themselves conducting statistical analysis, especially in the areas of logistics, supply, transportation, operations and in the services divisions. There are populations to survey, commands from headquarters to produce a report that is a “what if” analysis. Sometimes there are no particular instructions as to how to formulate a response to on the reporting requirement, so the individual with a sociology background will have a head start by using their modeling and experimental design skills.

In corporations, there are always budgets that must be produced. A sociologist can look beyond the technical and the obvious and see that there are human beings behind the budgets, and human beings have interactions, behaviors, norms, values and other aspects that can actually impact a budget. A serious case of pilfering of office supplies, for example, may be part of the department culture. Investigating whether to anticipate the pilfering or developing a program for reducing the problem will impact the budget.

In major inventory acquisition processes, looking at the way in which the various departments communicate and work with or against each other can lead to insights as to where surplus, shortages, and gaps in the work in process pipeline can be detected, analyzed and corrected.

In time and labor management, the sociologist is trained to do something very well: to objectively observe and to arrive at conclusions based on those observations. Something as simple as introducing a policy to train employees to keep their work organized, combined with the storage and other equipment needed to organize the work can result in solutions to a host of office delays, problems, and lost paperwork.  Making observations and conclusions about paperwork management, then developing programs for improving the processes is something that could come easily to the sociologist.

In dealing with interpersonal relations, the problems of employee and office morale, productivity, and disputes are more visible to the person who is trained to observe human interactions and behavior from an objective and organized position than to the person who has no idea as to how to determine the cause of problems.

As a result, work at any place can become a most excellent way for a sociology graduate to use their unique and special skills and understandings and to apply them, or at least to arrive at understandings that no one else has!