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Subject and teacher of the week: Sociology with Prof. Attila Melegh

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

By Alexandra Akanayeva

Photo: Shutterstock

Faculty of Social Sciences at Corvinus University of Budapest provides students from all degrees the opportunity to go more or less deep into main social disciplines, which remain crucial while you are studying. One of those subjects is sociology, which is taught for students from several departments. Whether your main degree is sociology itself, or, for example, communication, international relations or economy, this subject will help you on your way towards graduation.

The main aim of sociology is to provide a wide view of the world and its constituents. One of the first terms which students learn on the course is sociological imagination, which basically means "to think ourselves away" (C Wright Mills, 1959 The Sociological Imagination). In contemporary times people often study particular fields and try to specialize in order to be professional. However, it is very important, while narrowing down your studies, to see the picture as a whole. Sociology demonstrates the way to apply any science to people's lives, thus, students can clearly see the importance of any kind of study. Regarding the material used while teaching, the first and main instrument in the introduction to sociology is Antony Giddens's book called (surprisingly!) Sociology. This book describes each field which is important is this science. Therefore, if you are going to study sociology, you will get familiar with themes like education, gender, networks, people's communication and so on. Besides paying attention to the general problems of society, the subject demonstrates some potential ways to solve these problems. It basically opens your eyes to what is going on in the world and leaves you with many answers, but also with even more questions.

I mostly enjoyed the way our professor – Attila Melegh – presented the material, making it very interesting and truly unique. Sociology lectures were extremely interesting for me, so I have attended almost all of them, and due to this fact, all the given literature became easy to understand. Lectures are very interactive, as professor always attempted to communicate with students, that is why you always get feedback and never get bored. Professor Attila Melegh is a sociologist, economist, and historian. He studied in several different countries such as the US, Russia, Georgia and Hungary, and besides his passion for teaching, he is a researcher at The Demographic Research Institute. He is a highly mindful person, so I very much recommend attending his lectures.

On one of several introductory classes, we were watching a piece of a documentary about World War II, and there was a moment when professor Attila stopped the video and said:

" You see nations discriminated by race all over the world. Why? You see women who are rejected for a job because they probably might get pregnant and quit the job. Why? You see children who are not accessed to a normal education. Why? Sociology is a discipline that explains how to live in this bloody world. That is why you need to study this. "

It was a very clear speech, and unfortunately, not all the professors who you meet on your way will talk exactly to the point, using simple words, aiming to show you the real significance.

Attila Melegh himself speaks about the subject:

I think, sociology is the most systematic study of social relationships; as opposed to many other disciplines which actually focus on one thing, there is a sociology of everything: there is a sociology of religion, law, communication, economy and so on, which means that you can have a total vision of society, and then you can analyze it. I really would like to give my students this idea of an overall view of society, so this is why we have so many different topics. But most importantly, I am always working with students on two things: the first is to attain an understanding that sociology is trying to grasp society from society, thereby, students have to put aside a lot of normative things in that way of thinking, so it is a very reflective exercise. The second thing is giving them analytical skills. Social sciences and sociology are very often accused of being too ideological and not giving practical skills. But it is important to mention that bad sociology is ideological; good sociology is not ideological, and it gives a lot of analytical skills. Good sociology naturally takes a global perspective, so we have to analyze things from this perspective because this gives a proper reference point to all local developments. Besides, sociology has to understand society historically as we know that societies are always changing. And then, in case students understand these facts, I try to give them skills in how to understand the historical change, and how to create the dynamics of society. So-called dynamics is an interaction between cognitive and material processes, and I am trying to teach students to understand it better and, thereby, probably to avoid very big catastrophes which might actually come ".

After having an introductory understanding of what sociology is, and even getting the approval of the notion from a professor, it seems to be obvious that sociology is an extremely interesting science, and it is definitely worth to be learned.

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