Do sociologists understand ethnic minorities? Watch

Arran90
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Degrees in African studies, Bangladesh studies etc. attract controversy and criticism that they are useless subjects, but is sociology really a formal term for white western European and North American studies?

The sociology GCSE focuses on the study of white indigenous British people (who are probably assumed to be not religious or mildly Christian) and excludes foreign countries or foreigners and ethnic minorities living in Britain. One could justify this position out of simplicity as it's only a basic level 2 qualification.

However, do sociologists at university level tend to understand ethnic minorities living in Britain or is their knowledge base mostly that of
western societies dominated by white people?
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fallen_acorns
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That's a bit of a silly question.

Sociology: the study of human society and structures.

There are no ethnic or racially-based meanings or intentions behind the core idea of studying societies and human organization.

Then you just factor in two things:
1, to be an expert in something you must specialize.
2, locality and proximity are important to expertise.

What these mean:

The first means that no sociologist is an expert in all areas of sociology, just as no English professor is an expert on all books and genres and languages, and no science professor is an expert in all areas of science. Experts in their field will specialize, so you will get some who are very experienced and knowledgeable about one aspect of culture, and someone else about something different. Some sociologists will be incredibly knowledgeable and have a deep understanding surrounding minorities in the UK, others wont. Some will know a lot and study one single minority in depth, others will look more broadly. etc. etc.

The second means that in the UK, there is a greater likelihood that you will have sociologists who become experts in the UK. It seems self-evident, and it should be. Its easier, more resource friendly, more applicable and more useful to study your immediate surroundings then what is far away. The far away may provide novelty and may make you famous, but the near is more accessible for the majority of sociologists. The same rings true for majority/vs minority groups, you are closest to your own ethnic group, so for most white majority people in the UK, the easiest and nearest thing for them to study is their own white/focused culture.

The two combined means that in the UK you will get: A, lots of sociologists who specialize in small aspects of sociology. B, more of them focusing on UK based sociology, and majority-ethnic based sociology then other aspects.

Then you get to the question: is there anything wrong with this? And should we do anything about this? To answer the first you have to look around the world to see if other nations function in the same way. Do Chinese sociologists mainly focus on Chinese history and society? Do Japanese sociologists focus on japan, do American sociologists focus on America etc. etc.

The answer to that is yes. Then you can further look at whether we are arranged in the right way by proposing the opposite, and seeing how it would function. Lets reverse it, and say: what if the majority of sociology in the UK was based on minority perspectives and studied minorities? Sure that would help them significantly (in the limited way sociology helps people), but would that be right? You would then have the vast majority of people being hugely under-represented in academia?

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as an aside your last point is strange: "is their knowledge base mostly that of western societies dominated by white people?" - are there any western societies not dominated by white people? to learn of western societies that are no dominated by white people would be difficult if none exist.
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