Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (2010) said that social sciences are a kind

of martial art, a means of self-defense. At this point in the course,

you have had some time to reflect on the ways in which social sciences

can assist you in critical analysis of social institutions.

Social sciences can help you make financial decisions. Through your

assignments centering on advertisements, you identified the ways in

which advertisers attempt to appeal to your cognitive biases, your

cultural belief systems, and gender/race/class norms to encourage you to

buy the product. You have had opportunities to explore what being a

member of a consumerist culture means for your budget and your

psychological well-being. Now, when you view advertisements, you can ask

yourself how the advertisement might be manipulating you, and you may

think twice before buying the product.

Social sciences can also

help you recover your sense of physical self-worth. You studied the

ways in which cultures across the globe influence people?s ideals of

beauty and literally shape the bodies of the people of that culture. By

scrutinizing beauty norms throughout the world, we can also investigate

our own culture?s unattainable body ideals, a process that can empower

us against the negative thoughts that many of us have when we look in

the mirror.

Social sciences can help you ask meaningful

questions about your place in your culture and society. In this course,

you have examined the ways in which research questions are developed.

You may have noticed that it is not easy or automatic to ask good

questions of our society and culture. In doing this work, you can

identify better ways to solve problems in your workplace, your schools,

your relationships and families, and even your government systems.


Bourdieu, P. (2010). Sociology is a martial art: Political writings by Pierre Bourdieu. Paris, France: The New Press.

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