Social Work and Sociology. They sure sound alike, but are they similar? Both subjects are popular majors on college campuses around the world. Although they have many overlapping themes, they are different areas of study.
Sociology is defined as the study of society and human behavior. This encompasses a wide range, which includes the study of individuals and of humans living collectively in the larger society. A sociologist may be interested in an individual case study of an individual living in poverty, but also interested in how poverty affects society as a whole. Sociologists may study an individual with a depressive disorder and how that affects the individual person. Another sociologist may be more interested in the rates of depressive disorders in the United States. As you can see from these examples, Sociology is a very broad subject.
Social Work is commonly defined as a field which is interested in helping individuals, groups or communities. Social workers often work with individuals who have mental health disorders, substance abuse issues, living in poverty, or facing other difficulties in life. The Social Worker will either work with the individual to address and fix these problems or at the macro level by changing laws and policies that have a direct affect on the issue.
Professionals in the field of Social Work may work in hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, universities, social service agencies, non-profit organizations, and many more. Individuals with a background in Sociology are typically employed in academic or research settings. Therefore, it can be argued that Social Work is more of a hands-on field, while Sociology is not.
On college campuses you will find that a large number of Sociology and Social Work classes will overlap. Social Work programs will require a certain amount of Sociology courses and Sociology majors will be expected to take courses in Social Work. These areas of study have many common themes, but provide you with different career opportunities upon study completion. If you are interested more in pursuing research or academic positions, Sociology will likely meet your needs. If you are hoping to be working the front lines with individuals and communities, then Social Work is the area of study you may want to consider pursuing.
But, you will find that it is possible to obtain a career in Social Work with a degree in Sociology and vice versa. Due to the fact that there is much overlap between the fields, you will have the ability to go between the two.
As you can see, the fields of Social Work and Sociology have more in common than sounding alike. But they are also distinct fields in their own right. Depending on your interests and career goals, these areas of study are perfect for individuals interested in the study of human behavior and/or working with people.