This post is a matter of personal opinion.
Since beginning my a-levels in 2016, I have found that there is a major stigma against sociology (psychology also, but less so). Many consider sociology to be a ‘soft’ subject or an easy A grade and I believe that at a-level standard, this is the case. However, this is not because I believe sociology to be easy; far from that. Instead, I consider the problem to be central to the way sociology is assessed and the (AQA) specification.
I have concluded from my wider reading (namely the works of Marx, Durkheim, Owen Jones and James Patrick) that sociology is a complex subject; a complexity that I cannot even begin to fathom or explain adequately with my current knowledge. However, it is clear that the specification and exam is not representative of this; we are taught simple terminology and, so far, have studied no key texts, or even extracts of texts, in major detail.
In STEM subjects, particularly the sciences, students are taught complex terminology and information so why are we as sociology students only taught the basics? To say this is a result of STEM subjects being compulsory at GCSE level would be inappropriate; the sociology specification could easily be modified to cover the current simple terminology and much more complex terms and information. For the sake of this post, let’s define sociology as a science (I am impartial on this matter); students in biology, chemistry and physics carry out compulsory (subject to the exam board) practical work in order to aid their understanding of key concepts - why is this not the same in sociology to aid our understanding and critical analysis of research methods?
This is not to say that the fault lies with my school or teachers; my teachers have only encouraged my passion for sociology and my interest in the subject. However, I often find myself predicting what they are going to say next in lessons because the specification is too predictable and monotonous, the same thing is often repeated but just in a slightly different context.
As well as this, sociology exams are a joke. Over 50% of the marks are awarded for ‘evaluation’. However, the evaluation consists of essentially writing down an opposing theory; a memory test of the textbook if you will. Students are not taught to ‘think outside the box’ or think for ourselves in a more complex critical and sociological manner as we would need to in a legitimate sociological setting or work placement. We are not adequately prepared, through no fault of our own - or our teachers, for the ‘real world’ of sociology.
What does everyone else think? I've spoken to a teacher who used to work at my school on the matter and they think that the specification is challenging enough for most students.
Tbh I think a lot of A levels are like this - especially subjects like sociology, economics, psychology etc. (ones that hardly anyone does at GCSE).
I certainly didn't find AS level economics at all challenging - I dropped it after year 12 because I found it so boring.
It's probably partly because they have only 2 years to teach you this subject from scratch, so they can't get to as high a level as with subjects that you have been learning since year 7, or even since primary school.