Imagine that you had been
switched with another infant at birth. How
different would your life be? What if your
accidental family was very poor or very rich?
How might this have affected the schools you
attended, the health care you received, the
possibilities for your future career? If you had
been raised in a different religion, how would
this have affected your beliefs, values, and
attitudes? Taking a greater leap, what if you
had been born another sex or a different race?
What would you be like now?
We are talking about changing the basic facts of
your life—your family, social class, education,
religion, sex, and race. Each has major
consequences for who you are and how you will
fare in life. These factors play a major part in
writing your life script. Social location
(meaning one's place in society) establishes the
limits and possibilities of a life.
Men who father
children before marriage leave school
earlier, have lower earnings, and are more
likely to live in poverty than men who do
not have children before marriage (Nock
Black Americans who
kill Whites are much more likely to face the
death penalty than Blacks who kill other
Black people (Paternoster 2003).
Men who work in jobs
traditionally defined as "women's work"
behave in ways that emphasize their
masculinity; doing so brings rewards since
they tend to be promoted faster than
similarly qualified women in the same
occupations with the same education
These conclusions, drawn
from current sociological research, describe
some of the consequences of particular social
locations in society. Although people may take
their place in society for granted, social
position has a profound effect on their lives.
The power of sociology is that it teaches how
society influences people's lives, and it helps
to explain the consequences of different social
Sociology also has the power to help us
understand the influence of major changes on
people. Currently, rapidly developing
technologies, increasing globalization, a more
diverse population in the United States, and
changes in women's roles are affecting everyone
in society, although in different ways. How are
these changes affecting your life? Perhaps you
rely on a cell phone to keep in touch with
friends, or maybe your community is witnessing
an increase in immigrants from other places, or
maybe you see women and men trying hard to
balance the needs of both work and family life.
All of these are issues that guide sociological
questions. Sociology explains some of the causes
and consequences of these changes (Andersen and
If the aforementioned
issues are of interest to you and you would like
to consider enrolling in any of the sociology
courses offered at Montgomery College, please
call or e-mail the following individuals for