Here is the full transcript and summary of sociologist Sam Richards’ TEDx Talk: The Wisdom of Sociology at TEDxLacador conference. This event occurred on April 4, 2014.
Sam Richards – Sociologist
When I was young, I thought that my freedom and my independence were the two most important things in my life. And in fact, I thought that happiness could only come from me directing my own destiny, in a way that was independent and free from the influences of other people.
And then I began studying sociology. And this threw a wrench into that thinking because the core idea of sociology is that we are shaped by other people around us. So how could I be free? But nonetheless, I continued, I held these two things in balance largely because I only understood sociology down here.
And I think, in retrospect, I was like most people, because we all know that we are shaped by other people, but so many of us, myself included, for many years, still felt that, in the end, we are drivers of our destiny; in the end, we make free decisions.
So I continued, and then this all came to a crashing halt. In the summer of 1988, I was in my bedroom, and I was preparing a lecture for the following day; I had a class; I was teaching an Intro to Sociology class, and my girlfriend, at the time, said, “Hey, can I look at your book?” So I said, “Sure.” And she started reading my textbook. And she got to the end of the first chapter and she said, “This is amazing. This is the most amazing material I have ever read.” She said, “This is life-changing.”