What is Sociology?

by Joseph Cohen

Sociology is the study of social relations.  It examines the ways in which things like social networkssocial movements, organizations, institutions and society-at-large shapes our thoughts, behaviors, habits and life experiences.  Those who study sociology are generally interested in the ways that society affects us and the ways we can affect society.

This topic has a great deal of overlap with many other academic disciplines.  Like psychology, many of us are interested in the roots and consequences of people’s thoughts, perspectives and personalities.  Like economists and business scholars, many sociologists are interested in how economies, markets and organizations operate.  Like political science and legal scholarship, some of us are interested in the ways that society makes, enforces and abides by rules. Sociologists are also interested in topics like how people learn, how people achieve personal wellbeing, how culture is produced and consumed, and a range of other topics.  The main tie that binds us is our interest in social forces — how our interaction with other people shapes the outcomes that we study.

As you might guess, sociology can be applied to many fields.  One way to get a sense of what is currently popular in this discipline is to look at the American Sociological Association’s list of current sections.  These “sections” are specialty associations that represent and organize sub-groups of practicing sociologists who share similar intellectual or practical interests.

QC Sociology houses a large faculty with varying interests, which gives students the opportunity to interact with professors who specialize in topics that might be of interest to you.  To learn more about these particular lines of research, their application, and the career opportunities that they provide, contact a faculty member who specializes in that sub-field.  You can find them by looking at our list of full-time and adjunct faculty.