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Sociology: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Everything You Need to Know About Functionalist...
The functionalist perspective, also called functionalism, is one of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology. It has its origins in the works of Emile Durkheim, who was especially interested in how social order is possible or how society remains relatively stable.
What Is Symbolic Interaction Theory?
The symbolic interaction perspective, also called symbolic interactionism, is a major framework of sociological theory. This perspective relies on the symbolic meaning that people develop and rely upon in the process of social interaction.
An Overview of Conflict Theory
Conflict theory emphasizes the role of coercion and power in producing social order. This perspective is derived from the works of Karl Marx, who saw society as fragmented into groups that compete for social and economic resources.
Just How Bad Is Hollywood's Diversity Problem?
A new report from Annenberg's Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative shows just how bad Hollywood's diversity problem is.
What Are the Differences Between Folkways,...
Norms are the specific cultural expectations for how to behave in a given situation. There are four basic types of norms that sociologists commonly refer to, each discussed here: folkways, mores, taboos, and laws.
Full Transcript of Emma Watson's Speech on...
A full transcript of Emma Watson's smart, important, sociologically informed, and compelling speech on ending gender inequality from September 2014.
14 Sociology Theories You Should Be Familiar With
Sociological theories of the past and present.
How Important Was Emile Durkheim?
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What You Should Know about "The Sociological...
Learn about why C. Wright Mills's book The Sociological Imagination was so controversial when it was published in 1959, and why it is still widely taught today.
How Sociologists Study Race and Ethnicity
Race and ethnicity are important concepts in the field of sociology and are ones that are studied a great deal. Race plays a large role in everyday human interactions and sociologists want to study how, why, and what the outcomes are of these interactions.
Understand Emile Durkeim’s...
Emile Durkheim's study of suicide was a groundbreaking sociological study because in it, he discovered a number of important sociological findings. First, he argued that suicide was caused by social factors instead of individual. Second, he emphasized the role of social structure in producing deviance. Third, he pointed out the importance of people's social attachments to society. Finally, he elaborated the view that deviance provides the basis for social cohesion.
What's the Difference Between Deductive and...
What's the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning? Here's a primer on each, and discussion of why most good research involves both.
How Sociology Explains Social Inequality
Sociologists see society as a stratified system that is based on a hierarchy of power, privilege, and prestige, which leads to unequal access to resources and rights.
Understanding Feminist Sociology
Feminist theory provides one of the major contemporary approaches to sociology with its critical interrogation of power, domination, and inequality.
Sociological Explanations of Deviant Behavior
There are many different theories on what causes a person to perform deviant behavior. Here you will find some of the major sociological explanations for deviant behavior.
Why Are Middle Age White People Dying at...
Middle age white Americans are dying at far greater rates than other groups, and are mostly dying of drug and alcohol related causes, and suicide. Why?
What Is Sociology?
Just starting to learn about sociology? Looking for a primer on the field, its methods, and subfields? We've got you covered.
What's the Difference Between Prejudice and...
A sociological discussion of the difference between prejudice and racism, with attention to the implications that follow both.
How Structural Strain Theory Explains the...
Robert K. Merton developed the structural strain theory as an extension of the functionalist perspective on deviance. This theory traces the origins of deviance to the tensions that are caused by the gap between cultural goals and the means people have available to achieve those goals.
What Is the Interactionist Perspective? Review...
The interactionist perspective is one of the major theoretical perspectives...
What Is the Sociology of Education?
Education is a social institution that sociologists are very interested in studying. This includes teaching formal knowledge such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as teaching other things such as morals, values, and ethics. Sociologists want to know how this form of socialization affects and is affected by other social structures, experiences, and outcomes.
Learn about Karl Marx, a Major Founding Figure...
Biography of Karl Marx, a major figure in the founding of sociology. Marx is best known for his socio-political theory of Marxism and his book 'The Communist Manifesto.'
How to See the World as a Sociologist
Sociologists study connections between individual thought and behavior and the groups--small and large--that people belong to.
Understand the Difference Between Descriptive...
Statistical procedures can be divided into two major categories: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. This article discusses the differences between the two.
What Sociology Says About Gender and Society
Looking at gender sociologically reveals the social and cultural dimensions of something that is often defined as biologically fixed. Gender is not biologically fixed at all, but rather is culturally learned and is something that can and often does change over time.
What Does Conflict Perspective Mean in Sociology?
A definition of the conflict perspective in sociology and some examples of how to use it.
Learn About Pragmatist Sociologist George...
Biography of George Herbert Mead, a sociologist who pioneered the development of the symbolic interaction perspective. He is also the founder of pragmatism and one of the founders of social psychology.
What Are the Four Levels of Measurement in...
Level of measurement refers to the way that a variable is measured. There are four main levels of measurement that variables can have: nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio.
Social Control
Social control is a concept that refers to the ways in which people’s...
An Overview of Goffman’s ‘The...
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a book that was published in 1959, written by sociologist Erving Goffman. In it, he uses the imagery of theater in order to portray the importance of human and social action and interaction. He refers to this as the dramaturgical model of social life.
What Are the Different Types of Crime?
A crime is defined as any act that is contrary to legal code or laws. There are many different types of crimes, from crimes against persons to victimless crimes and violent crimes to white collar crimes.
The Different Types of Sampling Techniques
When conducting research, it is almost always impossible to study the entire population that you are interested in. As a result, researchers use samples as a way to gather data. This article provides an overview of the different types and ways of choosing a sample from a population.
What Is the Labeling Theory?
Labeling theory is based on the idea that behaviors are deviant only when...
Read the Biography of the Famous Sociologist...
Biography of Erving Goffman, a sociologist known for his role in shaping the symbolic interaction perspective as well as developing the dramaturgical perspective.
Mores
Mores are a set of norms that define the most fundamental ideas about...
The Most Important Words in Emma Watson's...
What Emma Watson said about masculinity at the UN eloquently synthesized years of sociological research on gender and violence.
How Labeling Theory Can Help Us Understand...
Labeling theory is one of the most important approaches to understanding deviant and criminal behavior. It stems from the work of W.I. Thomas who, in 1928, wrote,
What Is Theoretical Perspective?
A theoretical perspective is a set of assumptions about reality that...
Herbert Spencer
Biography of Herbert Spencer, a British sociologist who was one of the first to think of social life in terms of social systems. He saw societies as organisms that progressed through a process of evolution similar to that experienced by living species. Spencer also played an important role in the development of the functionalist perspective.
Racism: A Sociological Definition
Racism today takes many forms, some of which are overt, but most which are covert, and do not appear, at first glance, to be racist.
Auguste Comte
Biography of Auguste Comte, a sociologist best known for coining the term 'sociology.' Comte is also known as the founder of positivism and for his emphasis on systematic observation and social order.
What Does it Mean to Study Deviance and Crime...
The sociology of deviance and crime examines cultural norms, how they change over time, how they are enforced, and what happens to individuals and societies when norms are broken. Deviance and social norms vary among societies, communities, and times, and often sociologists are interested in why these differences exist and how these differences impact the individuals and groups in those areas.
20 Profiles of the Most Famous Sociologists in...
Learn more about sociologists by browsing through this list of some of the most famous thinkers in sociology history.
What Is the Purpose of Research in Sociology?
Social research serves many purposes. Three of the most common and useful purposes, however, are exploration, description, and explanation. Many studies can and often do have more than one of these purposes, however each have different implications for other aspects of research design.
What Is Systemic Racism?
Systemic racism is a theoretical concept and a reality. Learn why social scientists and anti-racist activists believe understanding it is crucial.
Understanding Marx's Base and Superstructure
What are base and superstructure? Why did Marx write about them? A sociologist provides a brief and easy to understand overview of these concepts.
Different Psychological Explanations for...
There are many different theories on what causes a person to perform deviant behavior. Here you will find some of the major psychological explanations for deviant behavior.
What is a Norm? Why Does it Matter?
Sociologists believe norms to be cultural products that shape our behavior. They are a part of maintaining social order, which has both good and bad implications.
What Are Social Structures?
Social structure is the organized pattern of social relationships and...
9 Things You Can Do to Help End Racism
There are many things you can do to help end racism. This modest list targets racism at the individual, community, and national levels.
How Do You Study the Sociology of Religion?
In one form or another, religion is found in all known human societies. Even the earliest societies on record show clear traces of religious symbols and ceremonies. Sociologists study religion as both a belief system and a social institution, examining things such as how religious institutions are organized and what influence religion has on other social institutions.
What Is the Nature Versus Nurture Debate?
The nature/nurture debate is a longstanding controversy about the...
What Is Critical Theory?
Critical theory is a type of social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole. It aims to dig beneath the surface of social life and uncover the assumptions that keep us from a full and true understanding of how the world works.
The History Behind Sociology
Learn about the history of sociology, how it came to be an academic discipline, and its evolution over the past century.
How Rational Choice Theory Explains Your...
Economics plays a huge role in human behavior. That is, people are often motivated by money and the possibility of making a profit, calculating the likely costs and benefits of any action before deciding what to do. This way of thinking is called rational choice theory.
How Max Weber Contributed to Sociology
Biography of Max Weber, a founding figure in the field of sociology. Weber is known for his ideas on bureaucracy as well as his thesis of the
Why Emile Durkheim Matters to Today's...
In honor of the 157th birthday of Émile Durkheim, we take a look at why his work remains important to sociologists today.
What Are Qualitative Research Methods?
Qualitative research, also called field research, typically involves fieldwork in which the researcher observes and records behavior and events in their natural setting. The researcher physically goes to the people, setting, or site in order to observe the subject as it normally and naturally occurs or behaves.
How Social Exchange Theory Explains People&rsqu...
Social exchange theory interprets society as a series of interactions that are based on estimates of rewards and punishments.
How to Use Secondary Data in Social Research
Secondary data analysis involves the use of data that was collected by someone else for some other purpose. In this case, the researcher poses questions that are addressed through the analysis of a data set that they were not involved in collecting.
Functionalist Perspective
The functionalist perspective can be traced back to Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons and has its roots in anthropology.
How Social Learning Theory Explains Society&rsq...
Social learning theory is a theory that attempts to explain socialization and its effect of the development of the self. It emphasizes the societal context of socialization rather than the individual mind and postulates that an individual’s identity is not the product of the unconscious, but instead is the result of modeling oneself in response to the expectations of others.
The Division of Labor in Society
The Division of Labor in Society is a book written, originally in French, by Emile Durkheim in 1893. It was Durkheim’s first major published work and the one in which he introduced the concept of anomie, or the breakdown of the influence of social norms on individuals within a society.
Harriet Martineau: A Brief Biography and...
Wrongfully neglected today, Harriet Martineau was a prominent British writer and political activist, and one of the earliest Western sociologists and founders of the discipline.
Understand Ritzer’s Sociological Study...
In 'The McDonaldization of Society,' author George Ritzer takes the central elements of Max Weber’s work and expands and updates them, producing an analysis of the impact of structural change on human interaction and identity.
Why Sociologists Use Purposive Sampling
A purposive sample, also commonly called a judgmental sample, is one that is selected based on the knowledge of a population and the purpose of the study. The subjects are selected because of some characteristic.
What is Cultural Hegemony?
What is cultural hegemony? A sociologist explains Antonio Gramsci's concept, and why it's relevant to understanding inequality in today's world.
Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled...
Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity is a book written by Erving Goffman in 1963 about the idea of stigma and what it is like to be a stigmatized person. It is a look into the world of persons who society does not consider “normal.”
Discredited Biological Explanations for Deviant...
There are many different theories on what causes a person to perform deviant behavior. Here you will find some of the major biological explanations for deviance and crime.
Folkways
Folkways are a set of norms in a social system that govern commonly...
Introduction To Statistics
An introduction to statistics for sociology.
When to Use Snowball Sampling in Sociological...
A snowball sample is a non-probability sampling technique that is appropriate to use in research when the members of a population are difficult to locate. Read more about snowball sampling and see an example.
All About "The Communist Manifesto"
'The Communist Manifesto' is a book written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 and has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts.
C. Wright Mills
Biography of C. Wright Mills, a sociologist best known for his controversial critiques of both contemporary society and sociological practice.
Happy Birthday, Karl Marx!
Karl Marx, one of the founding thinkers of sociology, produced a huge volume of written work. Get to know the conceptual highlights and why they remain important.
Secondary Analysis
Secondary analysis is the practice of analyzing data that have already...
How Quota Sampling Works in Sociological Research
A quota sample a type of non-probability sample in which the researcher selects people according to some fixed quota. Learn more about quota samples and read an example.
What Are the Stages of In-Depth Interviews?
Interviewing is a method of qualitative research in which the researcher asks open-ended questions orally and records the respondent’s answers. Interviewing is typically done face-to-face, but can also be done via telephone.
What is Symbolic Interaction Theory?
Symbolic interaction theory, or symbolic interactionism, is one of the most important perspectives in
How to Design a Sociology Research Project
Looking to conduct sociological research? This brief guide to the steps of the research process will get you started.
Presenting Data in Graphic Form
Graphs tell a story with visuals rather than in words or numbers and can help readers understand the substance of the findings rather than the technical details behind the numbers. Learn about the different types of graphs used in social science research.
What Can I Do With a Degree In Sociology?
What can you do with that degree in sociology? Quite a lot, it turns out.
What Is Positivism?
Positivism is a way of thinking developed by Auguste Comte and is based...
Indexes And Scales
If you are conducting a social science research project, chances are good that you will encounter indexes and scales. While these two types of measures do have some characteristics in common, they are two different concepts and have several distinguishing features.
Cultural Capital
Cultural capital is the ideas and knowledge that people draw upon as...
Backstage And Frontstage
In Erving Goffman’s Dramaturgical Perspective on Social Interaction, frontstage...
Robert K. Merton
Biography of Robert K. Merton, a sociologist best known for his theories of deviance. Merton also developed the concepts of
Constructing a Deductive Theory
Deductive theory construction takes place during deductive reasoning in the hypothesis-testing phase of research. This article provides an overview on the steps involved in constructing a deductive theory.
Understanding Emile Durkheim's "Collective...
The collective consciousness is a set of beliefs, values, and attitudes shared by most people in society. Find out more and why it matters here.
What Is a Unit of Analysis in Sociology Research?
One important idea in a research project is the unit of analysis. The unit of analysis is the major entity that you are analyzing in your study. It is the ‘what’ or ‘who’ that is being studied. This article explores the common units of analysis used in social science research.
Charles Horton Cooley
Biography of Charles Horton Cooley, a sociologist known for his idea of 'The Looking Glass Self' as well as for developing the concepts of primary and secondary relationships.
Total Institution
A total institution, a concept developed by Erving Goffman, is an isolated...
When Should I Use a Cluster Sample?
Cluster sampling may be used when it is either impossible or impractical to compile an exhaustive list of the elements that make up the target population. Read about the different types of cluster samples how they are drawn.
Max Weber's Greatest Hits
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Power
Power is a key sociological concept with several different meanings...
What Is a Systematic Sample in Social Research?
In a systematic sample, the elements of the population are put into a list and then every k-th element in the list is chosen (systematically) for inclusion in the sample.
Why Sociologists Use Participant Observation
Participant observation is a common research method that sociologists use to collect data and study groups, social problems, and phenomena.
What is Racial Formation Theory?
Omi and Winant's theory of racial formation links social structure and stratification to common sense notions of race and racial categories.
How Scales Work in Social Science Research
A scale is a type of composite measure that is composed of several items that have a logical or empirical structure among them. There are several different types of scales. In this article, we’ll look at four commonly used scales in social science research and how they are constructed.
17 Sociology Studies You Should Know About
Discover some of the major sociological works that helped define and shape the field of sociology.
Cultural Lag
Cultural lag is a term to describe what happens in a social system when...
How a Controlled Experiment Works
A controlled experiment is a highly focused way of collecting data and is especially useful for determining patterns of cause and effect.
How Sociologists Define Human Agency
Though society exerts a lot of force in shaping our lives, individuals express agency in a multitude of big and small ways, everyday.
Popular Culture
Popular culture is the accumulated store of cultural products
Feminism
Radical feminists believe that gender inequality is a result of the collective efforts of men to dominate, control, and exploit women.
Ethnomethodology
Ethnomethodology is a theoretical approach in sociology based on the belief that you can discover the normal social order of a society by disrupting it. Ethnomethodologists deliberately disrupt social norms to see how people respond and how they try to restore social order.
Racial Projects and the Process of Racial...
Racial projects represent race in ideas, images, and policy. They take a position on the meaning of race in society, and shape the social structure.
Why Talcott Parsons Was One of the 20th...
Biography of Talcott Parsons, a sociologist best known for laying the foundation for what would become the modern functionalist perspective. He is regarded by many as the twentieth century's most influential American sociologist.
Validity
Validity is the degree to which a measurement instrument, such as a survey question, measures what we in fact think it measures.
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a prediction about the relationship between variables. Also defined: null hypothesis, alternative hypothesis.
Ascribed Status
Ascribed status is a position in a social system that is beyond an individual’s...
How Sociologists Use Stratified Samples to...
A stratified sample is a probability sampling technique in which the researcher divides the entire target population into different subgroups, or strata, and then randomly selects the final subjects proportionally from the different strata.
Game Theory
Game theory is a theory of social interaction, which attempts to explain the interaction people have with one another. As the name of the theory suggests, game theory sees human interaction as just that: a game.
What Is Sports Sociology?
Sociology of sports, also referred to as sports sociology, is the study of the relationship between sports and society. This is a brief overview of some of the topics examined under the sociology of sports.
What Is the Sociology of Work and Industry?
The study of work, industry, and economic institutions is a major part of sociology because the economy influences all other parts of society and therefore social reproduction in general.
How Sociologists Study Health and Illness
Sociologists who study health and illness focus on the social effects of, and societal attitudes towards, illnesses, diseases, disabilities, and the aging process. This is not to be confused with medical sociology, which focuses on medical institutions such as hospitals, clinics, and physician offices as well as the interactions among physicians.
Structural Strain Theory Definition
The structural strain theory was developed by Robert K. Merton as a part...
On Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and Spirit...
'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' is a book written by sociologist and economist Max Weber in 1904-1905. It is a discussion of Weber’s various religious ideas and economics in which he argues that Puritan ethics and ideas influenced the development of capitalism. It is often considered a founding text in economic sociology and sociology in general.
Achieved Status
Also known as acquired status, an achieved status is a position in a...
Master Status
A master status is a social position that tends to be among the most...
Can You Define Role Strain? Review Your...
Role conflict occurs when people are confronted with incompatible role...
What is Globalization, Exactly?
Sociologists define globalization as an unfolding process that plays out in integrated social, economic, political, and cultural ways.
Measures of Central Tendency
Measures of central tendency are numbers that describe what is average or typical of the distribution of data. There are three main measures of central tendency: mean, median, and mode.
Interpretive Sociology
Interpretive sociology is a theoretical perspective based on the idea...
How Do Sociologists Define Race?
The definition of race, from a sociological standpoint, is ever-evolving, always contested, and politically charged.
Why Sociologists Use Random Samples
The simple random sample is the basic sampling method assumed in statistical methods and computations. Read about the different kinds of random samples and examples of each, including how to use a random number table.
Why Does Crime Spike in Summer?
It's a known fact that crime rates spike in the summer, but this is not just the result of more people being outside and away from their homes.
What Is Normal Distribution in Sociological...
A normal distribution is a theoretical idea that is based on theory rather than real data. Normal distributions are typically the goal and the ideal in research and data and something that every researcher strives for.
The 5 Ethical Considerations in Sociological...
The American Sociological Association's Code of Ethics sets forth the principles and ethical standards that underlie sociologists' professional responsibilities and conduct. Here is an overview of the five principles included in the Code of Ethics.
Diffusion
Diffusion is a social process through which cultural knowledge, practices...
The Relationship Between Gender and Violence: A...
A 16 year old girl is stabbed to death for denying a prom suitor. A sociologist reflects on masculinity, rejection, and violence.
Content Analysis
Researchers use content analysis to learn about a society by analyzing cultural artifacts such as newspapers, magazines, television programs, or music.
Ideology
An ideology is a set of cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes that...
W.E.B. Du Bois
Biography of W.E.B. Du Bois, an American sociologist best known for his role in the civil rights movement. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University and served as the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910.
Sociobiology
Sociobiology is the application of evolutionary theory to social behavior. It is based on the premise that some behaviors are at lease partly inherited and can be affected by natural selection.
Conflict Theory Case Study: The Occupy Central...
Conflict theory is helpful tool for understanding and analyzing the Occupy Central with Peace and Love protests that happened in Hong Kong in 2014.
Constructing a Questionnaire
Questionnaires are used a lot in social science research and knowing how to construct a good questionnaire can be an important and practical skill to have. Here you will find tips on good questionnaire formatting, item ordering, questionnaire instructions, question wording, and more.
3 Statistical Software Programs for Quantitativ...
There are many different software programs designed for use with quantitative data. This article will take a look at the programs that are most commonly used among social science researchers.
Aggregate
This term has two meanings in sociology. In the first sense, an aggregate...
Case Study
A case study is a research method that relies on a single case rather than a population or sample.
Meritocracy
A meritocracy is a social system in which people’s success in life depends...
What Are the 3 Types of Surveys?
Surveys are the most commonly used tool in sociological research, whether in the form of a questionnaire, interview, or telephone poll. Learn more about surveys here.
Social Phenomenology
Social phenomenology is an approach within the field of sociology that aims to reveal what role human awareness plays in the production of social action, social situations and social worlds. In essence, phenomenology is the belief that society is a human construction.
What is Cultural Relativism?
What is cultural relativism? This article offers an introduction to and some history of the concept, as well as why it matters.
Why It's Good That We Ignore Each Other in Public
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Reliability
Reliability is the degree to which a measurement instrument gives the...
Social Oppression
Social oppression is a concept that describes a relationship of dominance...
What Does Weber's Iron Cage Have to do With...
Max Weber's concept of the iron cage is even more relevant today than when he first wrote about it in 1905. Find out what it is, and why it matters.
What Is a Convenience Sample?
A convenience sample is one in which the researcher uses any subjects that are available to participate in the research study. Read about the advantages and disadvantages of this type of sample and see an example.
Focus Groups
Focus groups are a form of qualitative research that is used most often in product marketing and marketing research. During a focus group, a group of individuals – usually 6-12 people – is brought together in a room to engage in a guided discussion of some topic.

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