Special Areas of Undergraduate Study

The undergraduate program in sociology is designed to provide all concentrators with a broad sociological background and substantial flexibility in meeting individual intellectual interests. Students may choose to focus on a particular area among those in which the department faculty excels. The Department offers five areas of specialization for those students that are interested in a more focused concentration structure. The five are:

Diversity and Inequality

This area focuses on the causes and consequences of social and economic inequality along the lines of class, status, race, gender, age, and physical ability. Students gain understanding of the power relationships involved in systems of race/ethnicity, sex/gender, and class differentiation. Courses analyze how power differentials shape identity, life courses, and opportunities; and how these dimensions of inequality structure relationships of exclusion and privilege, social control and social conflict.

Examples of courses in this area:

  • SOC 0130: American Heritage: Democracy, Inequality, & Public Policy
  • SOC 1270: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the Modern World
  • SOC 1640: Social Exclusion
  • SOC 1650: Unequal Societies
  • SOC 1870V: Households, Work and Gender

The Individual and the Social Order

This area focuses on the social construction of individuals. Courses examine how the location of individuals within social networks and social structures shapes fundamental attributes of those individuals, including basic dispositions such as personality, values, and empirical beliefs. Students learn to think critically about the social constitution of human life, including their own.

Examples of courses in this area:

  • SOC 0020: Perspectives on Social Interaction
  • SOC 1090: Theories of Organizational Dynamics and Decision Making
  • SOC 1430: Social Structure and Personal Development
  • SOC 1440: Intimate Violence
  • SOC 1870L Economic Sociology

Globalizationion and Development

This area focuses on the analysis of globalization and economic and political development, with emphasis on the global south. The courses examine theories of global power, historical change and how collective action can lead to social changes such as the reduction of poverty and inequality, increased environmental awareness and stewardship, and the deepening of democracy.

Examples of courses in this area:

  • SOC 0150: Economic Development and Social Change
  • SOC 1620: Globalization and Social Conflict
  • SOC 1870N: Environmental Sociology
  • SOC 1879K: Demographics and Development
  • SOC 1871R: Knowledge Networks and Global Transformations

Social Policy

This area focuses on the relationship between society and social policy, examining how policy is shaped by social actors acting collectively in the pursuit of their interests. Courses examine the political, economic, and social interests and parties affecting policy in problem areas. Students gain expertise on particular substantive areas such as education, health care, family policy, environmental policy, and social welfare.

Examples of courses in this area:

  • SOC 0200 Population and Society
  • SOC 1400: Political Sociology
  • SOC 1410: Aging and the Quality of Life
  • SOC 1550: Sociology of Medicine
  • SOC 1870D: Aging and Social Policy

Research Methods

This area focuses on the pragmatic and methodological skills involved in social research, whether basic research (such as found in academia or research institutions) or applied (such as found in policy and marketing research). This area is for students who have a strong interest in the practical aspects of social science research. Students take methods courses that consider different types of data collection and techniques of data analysis used by sociologists. Students also learn to apply these techniques to the analysis of actual data from the social sciences.

Examples of courses in this area:

  • SOC 1120 Samples Surveys in Social Research
  • SOC 1260 Market Research Methods
  • SOC 1871F Principles and Methods of GIS
  • SOC 2210 Qualitative Methods
  • SOC 2230 Techniques of Demographic Analysis