Why Every Event Planner Should Study Sociology

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Today, we’re going to discuss a topic which might –at first glance – seem rather out of place on an event management blog: sociology.

In one of my first pieces for Tweetwall, I made reference to Marshall McLuhan; one of the most brilliant sociologists of the 20th century. McLuhan’s insights about a concept known as the ‘global village’ were years ahead of their time, and he managed to predict the strange new society created by social media several decades before it came to pass. Sadly, he never lived to see his theories come to life – he died in 1980, at the age of 69, leaving behind a formidable body of work which to this day serves as one of the benchmarks for human interaction through modern media.

See, in essence, that’s what sociology is – the study of human interaction. It’s a quantitative examination of human social behavior, organizations, and institutions. Basically, it’s the science of society. It’s also a field in which I believe every event management professional should be at least somewhat versed.

Now, I said somewhat versed. There’s no need to be an expert in the field – after all, it tends to go much deeper than ‘people management.’ Social researchers seek to understand pretty much everything about how we relate to one another in the modern world.

They look to study social stratification, class separation, and class mobility. They seek to study religion and secularization. They wish to understand the connection between law and deviance. They want to know how social structures (everything from peer groups to corporations) impact individual agency. Basically, they want to know everything there is to know about how a modern human being shapes –and is shaped by – the world around them. As for you; you’re going to cherry pick a few of the insights the field has to offer.

I’m not explaining myself very well, am I?

Alright, look. As an event planner, you’re in the business of managing people as much as managing events.

The best way to go about that is to understand the people you’re managing – to understand how they interact with one another and with their technology. You’re not going to be doing much reading into stuff like structure and agency (unless you want to – I myself find it rather fascinating), but you are going to want to formulate a basic understanding of theories like Conflict Theory, Functionalism, and Symbolic Interactionism.

The reason I’m suggesting this is simple: perspective. While you may not necessarily encounter any startling, world-shaking revelations in your studies, what you will encounter is a new way of thinking; one which could serve as a great boon when it comes to how you structure and run your events. Don’t underestimate the value of that.

I’d also highly recommend reading Marshall McLuhan’s work, particularly The Medium Is the Massage, War and Peace in the Global Village, and Understanding Media. Although some of his stuff is undoubtedly a little dated (and by no means perfect); again, it’s all about gaining a new set of ideas where interaction is concerned.

At its core, sociology is the study of human society, and our behavior within its confines. For that reason, mention of the field isn’t necessarily out of place when discussing event management.

After all, you’re dealing with people on a regular basis – you might as well have a relatively scientific understanding of how they act.