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What is sociology?

Sociology is the study of social life and interaction. It advances such a study in two ways. First, as a way of seeing, sociology aims to go beyond commonsensical beliefs about how human beings as a group live and think. Sociology asks you to take a fresh look at a wide range of your social experience: the way you are brought up in your family, how you are educated, how and why you work, what politics means to you, what love means to you, why people form groups, why traditions survive, how nations emerge and disintegrate, and so on.

Second, as a set of intellectual tools, trains you to study social life in a rigorous and systematic way. Through this, you learn more about yourself and your place in society than the untrained observer. Sociology as a discipline has a long history.

It has constantly updated itself to meet new challenges. Sociology can be applied to a world increasingly connected by new technologies of communication, joined by the pursuit of economic well being, excited by new modes of entertainment, divided by the utilization of power and shadowed by global environmental hazards.

Sociology provides a unique gateway to these public as well as personal issues. You will find yourself enjoying the many fascinating insights of this critical and humane discipline called sociology.

Hong Kong: A unique place for sociology

Sociology as a discipline first emerged in Hong Kong’s universities in the 1960s. From the beginning, it took on the mission of understanding the processes and repercussions of modernization among a predominantly Chinese community.

Since then, Hong Kong’s unique patterns of development continue to pose special challenges to it. Unprecedented urban economic growth has been achieved in a context of colonial rule and prolonged complicated relations with Mainland China. A modern population, imbued with a burgeoning local culture then faced a succession of economic and governance crises in a runaway globalized world after 1997.

Doing sociology in Hong Kong has a special attraction, located on the fringe of a rapidly changing Chinese society, a hub along a chain of Asian metropolitan centres, and a key node in global flows of people, ideas, commodities and money. Researchers and students are continually fascinated by the unique opportunities to explore a range of important social, political and economic issues peculiar to this place and region.

Sociology and your career

Our programmes help you to develop a broad social vision and the ability to critically reflect on your personal life and its relationship with the developments of society at large. The acquisition of such a quality is an indispensable part of a complete university education today.

This all-round quality is highly valued in different fields of career development. Our programmes also equip students with professional knowledge in specific fields, especially those dealing with people.

Many of our graduates lead successful careers in business, government departments, welfare agencies, educational institutions, police and correctional services, the ICAC, the creative industries and many other fields. Many sociology students continue their studies with us, or in overseas universities. Over the years, a substantial number of our students have been awarded scholarships to study in prestigious universities in Britain, Australia, the United States and Canada.

HKU Sociology has offered full-time and part-time MPhil and PhD programmes since the 1970s. The research areas have included cultural and media studies, anthropology, criminology, education, gender studies, economic sociology, Hong Kong society, Chinese society, Southeast Asian societies, and so forth.