What is sociology, and how is its application critical to today’s business world? Answering the second part of the question – combining sociology and business knowledge and skills will improve your company culture and performance if you’re looking for a competitive advantage. But what really is sociology?
According to an article by the American Sociological Association (ASA), sociology “…is the scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture.”
The author further states, “…sociologists study all things human, from the interactions between two people to the complex relationships between nations or multinational corporations.”
From the above statements, it goes without saying that sociology is an integral part of any business. We say this because, let’s face it, the actual business transaction happens between people.
A good understanding of human behavior based on your sociology background helps you grow your business in ways your competitors can not.
In other words, sociology can help business owners, marketers, and managers to develop skills that come in handy whether you’re researching the market conditions, trying to improve your products/services, or looking to boost the morale of your team.
With that preamble, let us look at a couple of ways sociology helps businesses move forward in a world of diversity, equality, and inclusion. Yes, we’re talking about different cultures, genders, religions, and sexualities, among other things.
4 Main Ways Sociology Helps You in Business
The following section covers ways to leverage sociology to grow your business, big or small. We hope you find a gem.
1. Handling Staff
Richard Branson once said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will care for the clients.” These words carry much weight from a businessman who owns more than 60 companies (under the Virgin Group).
From firsthand experience, we’ve known that a happy employee is a valuable asset to have on your side. If you have disgruntled employees, you cannot expect an A1 performance. Obviously, unhappiness in the workplace breeds many problems, problems you can easily avoid with a sociology background.
Sociology helps you understand the cultural and social aspects that shape each team member. With this knowledge, you can avoid alienating staff members or hurting company loyalty. Sociology offers you an advantage when dealing with employees in the workplace.
2. Develop Analytical Thinking
Studying sociology helps you to develop or hone your analytical thinking skills. The study usually involves analyzing qualitative and quantitive data to determine how various factors affect a population.
Therefore, you can use the analytical skills you learn in sociology to better understand your target audience. It is the main reason today’s employers seek critical thinkers who are versatile in addressing complex challenges and why sociology degree holders can work in various settings, according to the University of Maryville.
As a matter of fact, sociologists have found a growing place in marketing teams. They use analytical thinking methods to help businesses research market data and draw beneficial conclusions.
3. Identifying Market Opportunities
Businesses face a lot of competition daily. It is no secret that cutthroat competition can put you out of business.
It is also no secret that companies that adjust strategy according to viable market data overcome challenges and move forward. But what has that had to do with sociology?
Well, sociology allows you to understand that certain conditions influence groups of people differently. For instance, those in business with a background in sociology will easily recognize opportunities created within a population, even in phenomena such as war, natural calamities, or diseases.
Business owners without sociology backgrounds are likely to miss opportunities within a given population since they aren’t “in touch” with the reality of things on the ground. More often than not, this business owner has a limited understanding of their customers, which is terrible for any business.
Want to identify opportunities that your target audience present? Add a sociologist to your marketing team and thank me later.
4. Better Public Relations Management
According to Questia.com, public relations involves “…activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. Public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most favorable light.”
Going with the above definition, how do you expect to shine in public relations if you have no idea how to get through to your target audience? Remember, people’s behaviors are motivated by several factors, including surroundings, cultural beliefs, religion, etc.
A sociology background will help you identify the sociological factors driving your customer base. With this information, you can tune your public relations activities for the best results. It goes without saying that your business’s actions will affect your customers based on their cultural and economic backgrounds.
For instance, you cannot afford to make fun of people who don’t eat pork due to religious or cultural beliefs, even if they don’t make up a considerable part of your customer base. But you will probably miss the mark entirely with your public relations activities if you don’t understand your customer base, especially the things that drive their behaviors.
A degree in sociology is not required to succeed in business, and you will find it unlikely to pursue a sociology degree just to get an edge in the industry. Still, having someone with a sociology background on your team will help you in ways you never imagined.
We hope this article pointed you in the right direction as you appreciate the value of sociology and business, including how to grow it sustainably. Have questions or suggestions? Please share in the comment section at the end.