The sociology program is devoted to the critical analysis of contemporary societies. Students are encouraged to think beyond everyday assumptions and make connections between the problems of individuals and the broader structures of social life. Faculty strive to question the ‘natural’ appearance of existing social relations in order to reveal how contemporary social relationships are socially and historically constructed.
The program offers courses that cover the full range of sociological analysis. At the macro-level of ‘big structures and huge processes,’ critical perspectives are offered on globalization and social change at the level of the contemporary world-system, the organization of power in contemporary American economic, political and cultural institutions, and structured social inequalities along lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, age and disability. At the micro-level of direct face-to-face interaction, the program offers a variety of explorations of the relations between institutional structures, the formation of social identities, and the organization of everyday social life.
The sociology faculty are strongly committed to the social justice mission of the University. From a variety of perspectives, the faculty develop critical assessments of contemporary society in light of the real possibilities for more just and democratic social relationships in the future. The problems and prospects of ongoing movements for social justice and social change are continually (re)assessed.
Beyond specific course content, the sociology faculty work to nurture basic intellectual competencies. Students are expected to master both theoretical and empirical skills. The basic values of advanced literacy – close reading, careful interpretation, and reasoned critical analysis – are emphasized. The development of skills in the written and oral presentation of ideas is a feature of most courses. The ability to critically analyze empirical data is another feature of the program.