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Caroline Austin

Associate Tax Lawyer

Irish Tax Institute

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  Caroline Austin
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Occupation Details

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Sociologist / Social Researcher

Job Zone

Education
Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an engineer must complete four years of college and work for several years in engineering to be considered qualified.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Job Zone Examples
Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, computer programmers, teachers, chemists, environmental engineers, criminal investigators, and financial analysts.

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At a Glance... header image

Study human society and social behavior by examining the groups and social institutions that people form, as well as various social, religious, political, and business organisations.


The Work header image

Sociologists use scientific methods to develop surveys and undertake statistical analysis. For example, to examine urban inequality, researchers may take a random sample of adults from selected households. They may ask a series of questions to find out about the adult's experiences of employment or their residential preferences.  
 
Quantitative research involves large samples (usually more than 100 people) and measurable data. Qualitative research uses smaller numbers of people and concentrates more on people's opinions and experiences. Focus groups, made up of a small number of selected people, are encouraged to discuss a particular topic. Researchers may also interview people on a one-to-one basis.  
 
Computers are normally used to analyse data and produce statistics, graphs and models. At the end of the project, researchers write a report that sets out research aims, results, conclusions and recommendations. The findings of a completed project are often presented to interested parties.  
 
Social researchers help to form and monitor social policy in central government departments. They use census records to study and predict changes in population structure and movement. Knowledge of public attitudes to diet, drugs, crime and alcohol helps the government to set health care targets and produce public information literature. Research into crime (for example, domestic violence) helps the police and may lead to changes in the law.  
 
In local government, research tends to be very specific to policy. Researchers help local authorities by producing information on housing, education, social services and planning. For example, they survey people's opinions about the state of housing, or the impact of a new road designed to relieve traffic congestion.  
 
The government and market research organisations are interested in consumer attitudes and behaviour. They may assess consumer behaviour by asking people about their decisions to save or borrow money, or to buy houses and cars. This helps the government to assess confidence in the economy, and manufacturing industries to identify new products and markets.

 


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation

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Prepare publications and reports containing research findings.

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Analyze and interpret data in order to increase the understanding of human social behavior.

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Plan and conduct research to develop and test theories about societal issues such as crime, group relations, poverty, and aging.

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Collect data about the attitudes, values, and behaviors of people in groups, using observation, interviews, and review of documents.

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Develop, implement, and evaluate methods of data collection, such as questionnaires or interviews.

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Teach sociology.

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Direct work of statistical clerks, statisticians, and others who compile and evaluate research data.

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Consult with and advise individuals such as administrators, social workers, and legislators regarding social issues and policies, as well as the implications of research findings.

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Collaborate with research workers in other disciplines.

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Develop approaches to the solution of groups' problems, based on research findings in sociology and related disciplines.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.

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Getting Information:  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

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Analyzing Data or Information:  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

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Processing Information:  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

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Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events:  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

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Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others:  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

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Thinking Creatively:  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

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Training and Teaching Others:  Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

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Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

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Communicating with Persons Outside Organization:  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

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Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work:  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.


Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.

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Sociology and Anthropology:  Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

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English Language:  Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

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Mathematics:  Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

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Psychology:  Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

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Education and Training:  Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.


Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.

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Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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Writing:   Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

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Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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Speaking:   Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

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Science:   Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

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Active Learning:   Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

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Social Perceptiveness:   Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

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Judgment and Decision Making:   Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

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Instructing:   Teaching others how to do something.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

As a Sociologist / Social Researcher, you should have an interest in social developments, trends and attitudes. Social researchers need an investigative and analytical mind and a thorough approach to their work. You must be able to plan and carry out surveys, be familiar with other research methods, and know how to use statistics.

Good communication and interpersonal skills are needed to design questionnaires and gather information from people. You will also need to be able to explain your findings clearly, both verbally and in written reports.  
 
Researchers must look out for bias and ambiguity in the methods they use to collect or interpret data. You should be aware of the danger that research findings can be interpreted in different ways, especially by people with opposing views and agendas or political parties.  
 
Computing skills are very important, because they are used to produce statistics, graphs and models.  
 
Social researchers often work to deadlines both in setting up a survey and reporting findings, and need good organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure.  
 
If you are not particularly good at statistics, there is still the possibility to work in social research. Many organisations separate their researchers into those who design surveys and those who analyse statistics. However, you must understand sampling designs and survey methods.


Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image

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Organisation: Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland
  Address: Economic and Social Research Institute, Whitaker Sq. Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2
  Tel:
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)
  Address: Whitaker Square Sir John Rogerson's Quay Dublin 2
  Tel: (01) 8632000
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

 

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