BA Politics and Sociology Personal Statement
Submitted by Emma
The world of politics is always evolving - there are always new policies or new concepts to consider, explore and analyse. Just as the progression politics and the dynamics of society have informed the modern political world, the shaping of policy and the progression of our current society and political atmosphere will inform the society of the future. Class, gender, ethnic background and sexual orientation play a determinative role in both voting habits and policy formulation, proving that Sociology is essential when it comes to the study of politics. Historically, class has played a massive part in voting behaviours, but with an increasingly diversified society and an advance in technology, this behaviour has undergone change, and since the 1970s, class voting has declined. Despite this, society and our political atmosphere has become increasingly polarised, something which I am particularly interested in. I have read ‘#republic’, which was very insightful in exploring the way in which social media shapes politics, and the effects of digital democracy. I agree partly with the idea Cass Sunstein expresses, that the advancement of technology, particularly in terms of personalised social media algorithms, has had a strong influence on the polarisation of modern politics.
The way we relate to one another can be attributed to both social and economic policy, for instance the societal effects of Thatcher’s policies, and the introduction of neo-liberalism into British politics, can be seen in an increase in self-interested and individualistic voting, and a decrease in social capital. Applying this view to my History course has been fascinating; our study of communist government, and the way social policy has affected society in the USSR and the Republic of China, have provided a great contrast to my perspective on Western social policy. Similarly, in English Literature we have studied The Handmaid’s Tale, which provides a view of the societal effects of a fictional religious military dictatorship, particularly focusing on the culture of suspicion which has been seen in totalitarian regimes in both Western and communist states.
My interest in politics and sociology has developed in my study of Government and Politics, as in class we learn about the formal processes of government, the history and development of ideologies, and we engage in class discussions - these I particularly enjoy as while they are useful in expanding my knowledge, debating is particularly beneficial in refining and nuancing my arguments. We have had particularly interesting in-class debates on the use of Trident, in which I argued for its abolition, as I believe it to be economically ineffective. Although I understood the evidence provided by those who defended it in terms of security, I ultimately wasn’t persuaded to completely reverse my view, but thinking about the reasoning behind the opposition’s argument shaped my own opinion. I engage with politics outside of my course, taking part in protests for equal rights and treatment as part of the Stand Up to Racism and Free the Nipple protests. I lead my college’s socialist society, where we lead discussions on current affairs, socialist philosophy and how that is applied in politics today. I also attend and speak at debate club, and during secondary school I took LAMDA exams in Verse and Prose and Speaking for Performance, and I took part in the West Sussex Youth Speaks contest, in which my team reached the semi-final. These activities have developed my skills in communication and public speaking, which I plan to further develop in both the pursuit of a Politics and Sociology degree and extra-curricular activities at university.
After university, I aspire to a career as a civil servant. I am deterred from pursuing a career in the forefront of politics, as I find the point scoring soundbite culture of modern mainstream politics distasteful and see the civil service as a more productive political organ.