Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. It is perhaps the most wide-ranging of the social sciences, a pattern illustrated well by the scholarship of the department’s faculty. Among the topics that faculty study are:
- how people respond to injustice
- why charter schools fail
- how organizations and mentoring shape careers
- whether people get the work hours they want
- how social structures are reproduced during face-to-face interactions
- how people manage conflict
- how cultures of professionalism and fatigue shape the work hours and schedules of surgeons
- why there are ethnic and racial differences in crime and violence
- how family processes, peer associations, community context, and incarceration affect the risk of criminal behavior
- how substance abuse treatment organizations adopt innovations
- how and why headhunters match job candidates to positions in the labor market
- the effects of discrimination and racial socialization on physical and mental health
- how social institutions like the criminal justice and public welfare systems affect social inequality
- how victim gender, race, and ethnicity affect outcomes in capital-murder trials and on death row
- how careers unfold among U.S. Army Generals
Our research takes faculty all over the world, from struggles over resources and indigenous rights in Southern Chile to winemaking in South Africa, from social movements in Argentina to collecting new sentiments dictionaries in the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Our wide-ranging course offerings mirror – and are inspired by – these research interests.
While the humanities and the arts also explore the social world, sociology is distinct because it is a social science. It uses theoretical frameworks, empirical data, and scientific methods to investigate the social world. In terms of specific research methods, sociology – and the department’s faculty – makes use of survey research and statistical analyses, in-depth interviews and ethnography, network analysis, experimental techniques, and content analysis of both contemporary and historical written and visual documents. Theoretical and methodological pluralism characterize the discipline and the department.
The major is designed to teach undergraduate students the sociological perspective, which incorporates three central foci:
- The recognition of the preeminence of social structures and their influences, and of micro and macro-level social processes.
- The role of the scientific method in the acquisition of knowledge.
- The enduring link between the individual's experience and larger social processes.
By deciding to major in sociology you have chosen a liberal-arts specialty that leads to a wide range of career options in government or business. In addition, a sociology major provides a solid foundation for further post-graduate study in law, business, public health, and the social sciences.
The department offers a wide range of courses on interesting topics. All undergraduate Sociology majors take required classes in theory and methods, the latter always in small classes (enrollment is limited to 15 students) to give them as much opportunity as possible to get hands-on research experience. Many of our best majors also work on independent projects with faculty. At least two of our classes every semester are writing intensive, and we offer three to four classes a year in study-abroad programs, including one class with a service-learning component.
The sociology curriculum provides repeated experiences wherein students pose sociological questions and bring data to bear on them, making full use of computer technologies. Courses underscore the centrality of race, class, gender, social structure, and culture in society and in sociological analysis. In the process, they expose students to comparative and international materials. More generally, the major develops student capacity for abstract thought, critical analysis, and for effective written and oral communication.
Beyond the Classroom
The Sociology Department’s Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program is designed to help our majors gain admission to highly competitive graduate programs in sociology. The Program allows students to work with a faculty member on his or her research or on a student-selected research project. In addition, the student will take a graduate level research methods course (SOCI 6620 or 6750).
- Open to all students considering going to graduate school in sociology (only).
- Applicants must have received an A in SOCI 3590 or 3600 (or obtain a letter from their methods instructor and the permission of the Undergraduate Coordinator).
- Applicants must also have identified a faculty member who has agreed to serve as a research mentor.
Applicants should submit a letter to the Undergraduate Coordinator describing their research interests, reasons for wanting to participate in the program, and future career plans. The letter should also indicate which faculty member has agreed to act as a research mentor. The application letter from the student, which should list the student's postal and email addresses and phone number(s), is due by April 15th.
The application must also be accompanied by a brief letter from a faculty member which 1) indicates that he or she is willing to serve as the research mentor and 2) describes the research project the student will complete.
Approval of Applicants
- All applications will be reviewed by the Undergraduate Coordinator.
- The faculty mentor will determine which graduate methods class (Soci 6620 or 6750) is most appropriate for the student.
- Final selection requires the agreement of the instructor of the graduate methods class.
- Once accepted into the program, the faculty mentor and student will sign a written agreement outlining the faculty member's expectations of the student and the general type of research activities the student is likely to perform.
Recent graduates with a sociology major contacted by the Career Planning and Placement Office at the University of Georgia list the following employers and job titles, which serve well to illustrate the wide variety of options afforded by the major: