2. Cycle Studies
(Graduate) – Intramural and Extramural Programme
Graduates of the second cycle studies combine practical skills, developed during their first cycle studies, with in-depth theoretical knowledge and advanced command of research tools applied in sociology. Some of the most prominent Polish sociologists work individually with graduate students who are wiling to put a lot of effort into becoming specialists in the study and analysis of social phenomena. Familiarity with the most recent theoretical approaches and a good grasp of research techniques plus participation in projects currently undertaken by our staff will help our students become part of the contemporary mainstream sociology worldwide and the sociological community in Poland. We educate people who will find a place for themselves anywhere, without any sense of inferiority: at any doctoral or postgraduate programme, in commercial research firms, public institutions, non-governmental organisations or in the media, whether in Poland or abroad. The atmosphere of collaboration, a sense of belonging to the IS community, the networking potential and a grasp of techniques ensuring a kick start into further career – this is the priceless capital which we offer to all of our students.
The following general objectives of education are to be pursued within the second cycle degree studies:
- gaining in-depth knowledge of sociology as well as in-depth knowledge of its selected subdiscipline;
- being prepared to design and conduct research projects single-handedly;
- developing skills and competencies for effective team work;
- gaining competencies required for sharing knowledge and applying skills in social and professional life;
- developing sensitivity to ethical issues, self-reflection, a sense of responsibility and a pro social attitude.
Graduates of the second cycle studies find employment in areas associated with performing, conducting, commissioning, managing, monitoring and analysing social research (incl. public consultations) and diagnosing social processes and cultural phenomena in public administration, market/social research companies, third sector organisations, public relations companies, the mass media and culture institutions.
The second cycle studies also prepare graduates to undertake the third cycle (doctoral) studies as well as postgraduate studies if they seek to undertake academic work or obtain specialised competencies in narrowly specialised areas.
Within the second cycle (graduate) studies, students select a profile (specialisation) or choose an individual course of study.
Human Capital – Labour Market – Public Affairs
Within this profile students acquire knowledge about the social and institutional conditions for the development of human capital. ‘Human capital’ is defined as the professional expertise and skills accumulated by an employee. This concept is sometimes criticised for employing an overly individualistic and ideological approach to the process of accumulating expertise and skills, yet the sociological interpretation does not lose sight of the systemic and structural modalities of that process. By choosing this profile, students will have an opportunity to familiarise themselves with a wide variety of fields of expertise, all of them linked to research and teaching interests of the three chairs within the Institute of Sociology: Sociology of Labour and Organisations, Social Problems, and Sociology of Education and Upbringing. Students may choose any courses offered within the profile or study within two focused tracks: Labour Relations & Human Resources, and Whistle-blowing Sociology: Management of Social Problems. Those two tracks are mutually complementary and students are free to choose courses from both or follow one track consistently. While the former track is more focused on the labour environment and the labour market, the latter put emphasis on barriers related to social difficulties. Both tracks enable students to understand institutional and systemic conditions that shape human capital, whether in the individual or, notably, the collective dimension.
The curriculum of the track entitled Labour Relations & Human Resources comprises theoretical and empirically-oriented courses in the theory and practice of collective labour relations, the labour market, the sociology of labour, the sociology of professions, economic sociology, the sociology of organisations and human resources management. Attention in this track is focused on concepts which enable us to understand the mechanisms underlying the acquisition of human capital in a variety of work environments. The courses put emphasis on developing practical skills which can be used in diagnosing the labour market and the life of organisations, including the case study approach. Students are offered an opportunity to take part in ongoing projects (workshop-style classes), which they can then use as inspiration for writing their master’s theses.
The track entitled Whistle-blowing Sociology: Management of Social Problems includes courses related to public policy which show that meritocratic reasons underlying social interventions are intertwined with ideologies and interests influencing the choice of strategies of action and their final outcomes. While teaching their courses, the faculty members draw attention to the institutional contexts where important decisions are taken by the actors of social life, and to manipulations built into the structure of the contemporary language of public debates, such as ‘corporate social responsibility’, ‘knowledge-based economy’, or the benefits of ‘investments in human capital’. Students will get the opportunity not only to learn the key theoretical approaches to public life phenomena, but will also get exposure to a variety of attempts to solve social problems as well as their limitations in terms of methodologies and implementation.
Complementary to those two tracks are courses in sociology of education and gender. In particular, emphasis is put on educational opportunities, lifelong learning and investments in social and cultural capital of people who are included into, or excluded from, the labour market.
- Learning the theories which enable students to understand the systemic and structural conditions underlying the development of human capital;
- Recognising the opportunities and barriers to development of human capital embedded in the educational environment, family, labour market, with consideration for individual life cycles;
- Getting a command of theories to perform critical analysis of policies and ideologies referring to labour, education and living conditions in the changing society.
Track: Labour Relations & Human Resources
- Learning classical and contemporary theories of labour relations, theories underlying contemporary HR management, crucial theories of organisation and management, and labour market theories. Graduates know how to apply those theories to analyse specific situations in various working environments and at the mezzo level, and, in particular, know how to analyse patterns of group interests in a variety of environments;
- Learning to perform an organisational diagnosis in a small and medium-sized business; learning to work in a team (up to ten members) and to manage the work of five people; learning to manage a small research project within one term;
- Acquiring skills to analyse, and take account of, arguments put forward by stakeholders in labour relations: employers, managers, employees, trade unions, and third parties. Graduates will know how to explore values underlying those arguments and strive towards consensual actions.
Track: Whistle-blowing Sociology: Management of Social Problems
- Learning the essential themes in the debates on conceptualisation of phenomena considered, in sociological theories, to be social problems;
- Becoming familiar with opportunities to utilise knowledge accumulated by social sciences to effect informed, purposeful social change;
- Learning about various strategies of social intervention that are undertaken in order to solve problems in collective living;
- Getting an insight into the institutional structure of local programmes aimed at solving social problems and methods to manage such programmes;
- Getting an idea of the historically-changing background of social interventions;
- Learning the skill needed to perform critical analysis of available empirical data in order to define and manage social problems;
- Learning the essential rules of programme design and impact assessment for programmes aimed at solving social problems.
Sociology of Politics, the State, and Public Life
This profile covers a broad array of topics: from classical sociology of political power through the evolving study of the state and public administration, to the varied and changeable phenomena of public life, analysed from their historical roots up until ‘wavering modernity’.
Regardless of the multitude and variability of its forms, power lies at the foundation of social life. Students who opt for this profile will occupy themselves with the study of power in the public sphere, but this does not mean just the power of the state/government. We will deal with broadly-understood politics, referring to the great traditions symbolised by Aristotle and Plato, Machiavelli and Hobbes, Tocqueville and Marx, Weber and Mannheim.
Max Weber, one of the founding fathers of contemporary sociology, and the creator of the political sociology, provided a modern definition of the state. He was fascinated with the phenomenon of power and various types of leadership, but he also constructed a model of bureaucracy which represents a frame of reference that is still valid today in theories on public governance. The example of Weber also demonstrates the power of sociological forecasting. For instance, he predicted that communism in Russia would lead to an extremely bureaucratic state rather than to the ‘atrophy of the state’, a process which was foreseen within the Marxist vision of Communist society.
Since Weber, the sociology of politics and the public sphere has evolved and become an established discipline. It deals not only with the state, its agencies and political power, but also with social movements and political parties, associations, interest groups, media, ideologies, and even social identities which become politicised (gender studies being perhaps the most prominent example). An important topic in the sociology of politics and the public sphere is the study of citizens’ electoral behaviour, political participation, political passivity and alienation. This field covers both classic sociological accounts as well as explanations derived from social psychology and even political marketing. Within this profile, ample space is given to the issues of civil society, especially organisations which make up the so-called ‘third sector’. Always important are the issues of relations between the state and the church (or churches), and religiousness in the society.
One may say that Poland has made a special contribution to the revival of the sociology of politics and the public sphere: the birth of the Solidarity movement, followed by the fall of communism and the country’s systemic transformation have been weighty topics not only in Polish sociology but on the global sociological scene as well.
What makes sociology of politics, the state and the public sphere more appealing is that this discipline is methodologically diverse: studies and analyses are conducted in a variety of ways, according to varied methodological approaches (also using the most recent one available to researchers: that of contextual analysis). This subfield will offer a welcoming ground for sociologists studying history, humanities-focused researchers who prefer qualitative inquiry, ‘neoinstitutionalists’ referring to rational choice theory, and sociologists strictly focused on quantitative methods. We aim to encourage this theoretical and methodological diversity among students who choose this specialisation.
Knowledge to be acquired
Graduates who choose this profile will have knowledge in the following fields:
- History of socio-political ideas,
- Socio-political history of Poland from 1944 to 2011,
- Key political institutions in Poland and their modes of operation (in addition: the military, power/government at the local level, and elections from the sociological perspective),
- European Union structures and institutions,
- Theories of political parties and party systems,
- The role of faith and churches in public life and in relations between the state and the church (churches),
- Social movements from a sociological and political perspective,
- Ideological diversity in theories and studies in Poland after 1989,
- Issues raised in public debate,
- Theory and study of public opinion,
- Political marketing.
Skills to be developed
- Practical skills on the ever-changing labour market: preparing and writing up reports and relevant expert opinions (based on suitable types of data, and showing the required degree of advancement in the analysis); this will give graduates a solid foundation when applying for a job in central/local government administration, in other public institutions, the third sector, the media and the research industry;
- For those planning a further academic career (e.g. a PhD): a solid background when applying for admission in a doctoral programme in various institutions, knowledge of the subject-matter, the ability to formulate problems (theoretical dilemmas, identification of research topics and their theoretical foundation and consequences for research, etc.),
- Theoretical and practical analytical skills in case study analysis, e.g. a specific political party or an institution, a specific problem such as electoral law, the financing of political parties, analysis of political programmes, analysis of a political process (such as the development of the 1997 constitution in Poland), and analysis of a social movement;
- Ability to perform an ongoing analysis of the political scene, and to interpret sociological surveys;
- Ability to perform an ongoing analysis of problems in the public sphere;
- For theoretically-oriented students: institutional design skills e.g. the analysis of potential consequences caused by changes to electoral law/competencies of public authorities or consequences of other reforms (e.g. the introduction of gender quota/parity in voting).
Attitudes to be developed
- Appreciating the role of theoretical thinking and concepts in the analysis of institutions, political systems, specific political agents/entities (such as social movements), and the political process;
- Appreciating the role of empirical data in theoretical thinking; conducting solid analyses and formulating responsible conclusions;
- Ability to look from a distance at ad hoc explanations of political phenomena;
- Paying attention to the historical, social and cultural context (and mutual dependencies) of political phenomena.
Sociology of Culture and Cultural Anthropology
The courses within this profile are designed with a view to educate specialists in the problems of contemporary transformations in culture. Issues covered include cultural and cross-cultural communication, cultural competence, and cultural capital. The focus is on understanding the dynamics of culture, transformations of cultural systems of meaning, values, and beliefs. Analysis of contemporary cultural processes covers the local, regional, national, European and global dimensions. Students are introduced to key theoretical frameworks in contemporary cultural sociology, and study the persistence and transformations of axionormative orders, symbolic codes, narratives, discourses, and cultural practices.
Courses within this profile present varied aspects of anthropological research and its methods. They focus around the practical dimensions of the presence of cultural otherness in various spheres of social life, in the individual as well as the collective dimension. Issues discussed include tradition and collective memory, research among representatives of various cultures, and problems of identity of ethnic groups in the contemporary world.
The courses provide knowledge on the links between social and cultural phenomena, on contemporary cultural processes, and new cultural phenomena. They prepare students to undertake their own research on cultural identity, the transformation of cultural bonds, lifestyles, new cultural and religious movements, local cultures and subcultures, cultural memory, national culture, multiculturalism, the cultural aspects of globalisation, and the impact of new media on cultural transformations.
During classes and lectures students acquire knowledge on studying ethnic and national issues, as well as on cross-cultural contact in sociology and anthropology. They learn to appreciate identity and the lack of equivalence between value systems in different cultures. They become sensitised to cultural relativism and the importance of maintaining one’s own culture. Students are introduced to theoretical debates around the nature of culture and cultural diversity, and learn the methodologies developed within cultural/social anthropology and cultural sociology. They know how to design and conduct anthropological and sociological research, and interpret its findings.
Communities and Social Diversity
Within this profile, students acquire knowledge about one of the key areas in sociology: the study of communities, social diversity, social structure, and social inequality. These problems, on the one hand, represent a central domain of sociological inquiry and, on the other, provide a foundation for many specialisations evolving within contemporary sociology. Within the offered courses, students have the opportunity to:
- explore the sociological reflection on traditional communities and emergence of new social communities, new forms of politicality and types of political communities, as well as new social, religious and ethnic movements;
- analyse contemporary globalisation processes, and effects of the ‘open world’ (migrations with their social and cultural consequences), problems related to integration processes;
- understand various types of social and economic inequalities as well as social, cultural and religious diversity, and their sociological characteristics;
- analyse new areas of social, political, cultural and religious conflicts as a consequence of diversity and social inequalities;
- discuss the quest for, and construction of, new identities (new religiousness, fundamentalisms, etc.), reconstruct biographies in the context of class-based differentiation, and explore gender and sexuality discourses;
- prepare for research and analysis of social diversity and inequalities, their manifestations and aspects (ethnic, cultural, national, religious, gender-related);
- use advanced data collection/interpretation techniques in the sphere of social differences and inequalities;
- provide a critical diagnosis of contemporary social phenomena related to exclusion.
The broadly-understood issues of communities and diversity will be analysed in the context of globalisation and regionalisation processes (social and economic consequences of EU membership), cross-national differences (value surveys), and local cultures.
Within this profile, students take part in courses and empirical studies related to the research and teaching interests of two chairs within the Institute of Sociology: General Sociology, and Rural and Urban Sociology.
Methods in Social and Market Research
Two competencies are required to conduct quality research at the professional level. Firstly, it is the understanding of theoretical models behind measurement tools and data analysis methods. In social and market research one often sees advanced techniques such as factor analysis, conjoint analysis, correspondence analysis or K-means clustering, employed without fully knowing their underlying foundations, and with no respect to the formal requirements that such types of analysis pose on variables. Secondly, in order to conduct research, one needs to understand the subject field and its specific issues. Each such field has its own perspective, conceptual framework and data collection techniques. Market research originates from economic theories of consumer behaviour, psychology and sociology of consumption, as well as the singularities of information required by marketers to plan marketing activities. Social research, in turn, plays a variety of roles: from providing reliable diagnosis of social problems through to identification of trends and the testing of scientific hypotheses.
This profile offers courses which ensure that students acquire both of these competencies. A significant proportion of the instruction is devoted to advanced-level courses which are uniquely offered by our Institute, and which provide theoretical foundations for conducting research.
The profile also has many courses which help students explore, at an in-depth level, the issues and problems which are posed in market research. Apart from workshop-style and tool-oriented courses, the profile also introduces students to more general issues related to contemporary democracy and markets.
This profile requires considerable effort from students. We know, however, that our graduates, equipped with an excellent foundation for conducting real-life research, have a strong advantage in building their professional standing among research agencies and institutions.
Individual course of study
The best students in the second-cycle studies may opt for an individual course of study (Polish abbreviation: ITS), and study under the supervision of a faculty member of their choice, designing an individual curriculum in consultation with their supervisor.