Sociology is the study of associational life. In examining patterns of association, sociologists explore the interactions of people, communities, and organizations. In this sense, sociology is not the study of people; it is the study of the relationships among people. This study includes the associations between people and the products of human interaction, such as organizations, technologies, economies, cities, culture, media, and religion. In the kinds of questions it asks, sociology is a deeply humanist discipline and sociologists demand the analytic rigor of scientific investigation.
In training students in our department, we encourage them to ask big questions and we work to give them the tools to provide answers. These tools might mean ethnographic observation, pouring through historical archives, looking at census data, analyzing social networks, or interviewing people in various walks of life.
As a bridging discipline that seeks the scientific exploration of questions that matter to human communities, such as inequality and social injustice, sociology addresses many of the same areas of life as our neighboring social science disciplines. Yet we often approach these areas quite differently. For example, problems of economic and political life are a central concern to sociologists. Rather than explore these as independent or particular features of society, we seek to embed them within the complex whole of the social world. Students will find the Department of Sociology to be a broad, demanding department that provides its students with the conceptual and methodological tools to make sense of the opportunities and social problems of the global communities in which we live.