Oli studied for his PhD in the Department of Sociology and worked for the Department as a Graduate Teaching Assistant during his time here. After graduating in 2015 he secured a position as a lecturer in Physical Activity and Public Health at Abertay University.
Why did you choose to study Sociology at the University of Leicester?
I knew that Leicester had a rich history in terms of its Sociology Department and programme. My background is in the Sociology of Sport - a sub-discipline where the Leicester School has historically had a significant influence. So, when an opportunity came up to apply for a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) post I was of course interested to see if this rich history had been carried into the present. When I went onto the website to check out the profiles of Sociology staff currently working in the Department I could see that it had. It was an exciting proposition to be able to choose to apply to study within such an accomplished school. Additionally, the GTA scheme - which the Department of Sociology has long supported - offered me the opportunity to study for a PhD whilst also gaining teaching experience. This was a significant draw for me as I knew that gaining employment as an early career researcher - post-PhD - would be difficult without having both a research profile and teaching experience.
How has studying Sociology influenced your career choice?
Studying within such an esteemed Sociology Department at Leicester facilitated me gaining legitimacy as a researcher with a broader focus than my background might have indicated I had the experience to undertake. Being associated with the University of Leicester's Department of Sociology really carries weight in our field and it can mean that people listen to you when they might not have otherwise. Of course, the most important things are knowing your subject and conducting sound research and I was well supported to do develop in both of these areas during my time at Leicester.
How has Sociology shaped your view of everyday life?
For me, once I was exposed to sociology and started to engage with the subject it became impossible not to view things sociologically. It really is a subject that shifts your understanding of the world and what goes on around you. As Pierre Bourdieu once wrote, the true freedom that sociology offers us is a chance of knowing what ‘game’ we play and of minimising the ways we would otherwise be manipulated by it. I tend to agree with him. In a vastly unequal world, this may not always make you happy but it inspires me to attempt to cause social change. As such, sociology can provide you with a sense of purpose and help you to avoid the sense of hopelessness common in societies where people are increasingly encouraged to think of themselves as individuals. Sociology allows you to see the bigger picture.
What advice would you give to anyone considering studying Sociology?
Take the plunge. Do not just dip your toes in; go in with both feet...preferably from a great height! It is when you are fully submerged and swimming in the subject that its capacity to engage and inspire is most evident. The more you know the more you want to know and so it goes on. Keep an open mind, engage enthusiastically and take the time to really think things through. There are big ideas to engage with and develop in sociology and as a sociology student you have the opportunity to do just that. If you take up this opportunity do so with commitment and relish. If you do, you will not regret it.