Department of Sociology
The Department officially came into being in December 2001, though teaching Sociology started much earlier, in 1992, as a component of the Humanities course for students in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology. The Department started offering a two-year M Phil Programme in Sociology, the first of its kind in West Bengal, from July 2002. Since 2005 it started four Extra Departmental courses for under-graduate students of various departments of the arts faculty of the University. Department has now launched, since July 2006, a Master’s Programme (MA) in Sociology. At present the Department offers a rigorous programme of theoretical scholarship and substantive research training leading to the MA, M Phil and Ph D degrees.
The basic character of Sociology lies in its criticality and reflexive nature. In Sociology one searches for and looks at recurrent patterns in the familiar social world quite differently from the way one is conventionally accustomed to do. In doing so students build up a store of sociological knowledge that provides them with necessary faculties to sharpen their observational ingenuity or develop their analytical capability. In a very important sense Sociology thus empowers its students and practitioners by equipping them with powerful insights into the social forces and processes that mould human lives and experiences, opportunities and constraints, and problems and possibilities in the contemporary, and yet historically specific, modern society. This is the liberating spirit that animates and inspires everyone who is concerned with the academic programmes and activities in the Department of Sociology at Jadavpur.
The sociological curriculum here at Jadavpur seeks to promote, on the one hand, disciplinary excellence in a wide range of theoretical perspectives and innovative approaches within both the existing and emerging areas of Sociology; on the other hand, students are also required to learn a fairly large variety of historical, qualitative and quantitative methods, keeping in view the vital differences as well as relations between methods and methodology. The students are required to carry out different types of assignments that involve participant/non-participant observation, intensive interviewing, recording of naturally occurring events, large and small scale sample surveys, tapping archival sources, analysis of census and other types of collected data, examining and interpreting historical and contemporary documents, undertaking content, narrative and semiotic analyses, etc. One very important area of emphasis of this Department is contemporary India, a society, which is changing fast in the era of globalisation. At the international level Indian society has become an important global player. At the domestic level, on the one hand, one may notice some positive trends like the growing economy, the aggressive take-over by Indian corporate giants, rapid urbanization in some pockets and the expanding middle class with its changed style of living. On the other hand, there is a growing socio-economic divide among people. The continuing debate on quota-question is one among many indicators of the prevalence of various types of social exclusion as well as unfavourable inclusion still practiced in a formally all-inclusive democratic, equalitarian Indian society. The contradiction becomes more evident from the fact that though it fails to universalize even primary level education, it follows the current pragmatic trend with a focus on sponsored research and market-responsive applied professional training. All these paradoxes make Indian social reality a very interesting ‘problem’ for sociological research and analysis.
While the PhD students undertake supervised research work, all entering the M Phil course are required to complete the core courses as well as two specialized optional courses in the first year. Upon successful completion of their qualifying examination at the end of the first year, the students are to work with their chosen supervisor for developing a research proposal and then completing it in the second year. In the four-semester MA programme the students at the university have the opportunity of studying quite a variety of courses. In the fourth semester there are provisions for optional courses (two courses to be taken out of six courses offered by the Department) and a dissertation work, which is equivalent to two courses.
An important feature of the Sociology Programme here at Jadavpur is that it emphasizes interdisciplinary study and research. There are a host of issues and problems almost in all the courses in the MA and M Phil syllabi, where Sociology meets a number of other disciplines that are taught in the faculties of Arts, Science, Engineering and Technology, the last one being a vital component of Jadavpur University’s academic programmes. And this explains the inclusion of many sub-fields such as Sociology of Science, Sociology of Industry and Work, Sociology of Environment, Sociology of Education, Sociology of Organizations, Professions and Occupations, Globalization and Society, Social Gerontology, or Medical Sociology. Its faculty offered and is still offering courses to the students of engineering and technology at different levels, sensitizing them to the enormous social implications of what they learn and what they will have to do in their future professional role. This sociological orientation, which they gain, does not simply assist them in performance of their narrow technical obligations; indeed, it goes a long way towards enabling them to fulfill their social obligations as citizens in the emergent information/knowledge society in our country. Sociological skills constitute a gateway to many different and satisfying career opportunities. These range from teaching assignments in academic institutions to many challenging positions such as researchers, social analysts, managers, administrators, counselors, social workers, journalists, planners and policy analysts, personnel and labor relations specialists in a wide variety of government and non-government organizations and agencies. As obvious, these may be concerned with almost every conceivable sphere of activities and services, viz. law and criminal justice, health services (counselling, nursing, etc.) and public hygiene, census and other statistical operations, field surveys, rural development, urban planning and management, industry and business, community service, counseling and social welfare resource development and management, public policy, public administration etc.
This newly born Department has also set up a Computer Laboratory, where students can access electronic reading resources through the internet. It regularly offers Refresher Courses and organizes seminars, workshops and interactive sessions attended by prominent sociologists, eminent scholars from other disciplines and social activists of different fields.
Department of Sociology
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