Sociology: Most Popular Articles
In science, there are two ways of arriving at a conclusion: deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. This article explores the differences between the two.
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.
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.
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.
Statistical procedures can be divided into two major categories: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. This article discusses the differences between the two.
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.
In 'The Sociological Imagination,' C. Wright Mills aimed to reconcile two different and abstract concepts of social reality – the “individual” and “society.” In doing so, Mills challenged the dominant sociological discourse and critiqued some of the most basic terms and definitions.
Feminist theory is one of the major contemporary sociological theories, which analyzes the status of women and men in society with the purpose of using that knowledge to better women's lives.
Sociological theories of the past and present.
Best Known For: A founding figure in the field of sociology "Father of sociology" Credited with making
An overview of career choices for those with a B.A., M.A., or Ph.D. in sociology.
The interactionist perspective is one of the major theoretical perspectives...
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.
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.
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
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.'
Social structure is the organized pattern of social relationships and...
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.
Conflict perspective is one of the major theoretical approaches to...
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.
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.
A controlled experiment is a highly focused way of collecting data and is especially useful for determining patterns of cause and effect.
Positivism is a way of thinking developed by Auguste Comte and is based...
Sociologists for Justice have compiled a compelling and engaging list of readings that inform the socio-historical context of the events in Ferguson, MO.
A theoretical perspective is a set of assumptions about reality that...
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.
Learn more about sociologists by browsing through this list of some of the most famous thinkers in sociology history.
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.
Biography of C. Wright Mills, a sociologist best known for his controversial critiques of both contemporary society and sociological practice.
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.
Social exchange theory interprets society as a series of interactions that are based on estimates of rewards and punishments.
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.
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.
The nature/nurture debate is a longstanding controversy about 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.
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.
Learn about the history of sociology, how it came to be an academic discipline, and its evolution over the past century.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mores are a set of norms that define the most fundamental ideas about...
Labeling theory is based on the idea that behaviors are deviant only when...
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.
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.
Social control is a concept that refers to the ways in which people’s...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Describes what sociology is, its origins, current approaches to the study of sociology, and a brief overview of the major topics of sociology.
Sociologists see society as a stratification system that is based on a hierarchy of power, privilege, and prestige, which leads to patterns of social inequality. Inequality is about who gets what, how they get it, and why they get it and sociologists are interested in why and how these patterns exists.
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.
Role conflict occurs when people are confronted with incompatible role...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ascribed status is a position in a social system that is beyond an individual’s...
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.
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.
Radical feminists believe that gender inequality is a result of the collective efforts of men to dominate, control, and exploit women.
Cultural lag is a term to describe what happens in a social system when...
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.
A sociological discussion of the difference between prejudice and racism, with attention to the implications that follow both.
Popular culture is the accumulated store of cultural products
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,
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.
Cultural relativism is a concept that refers to the fact that what is...
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.
Biography of Erving Goffman, a sociologist known for his role in shaping the symbolic interaction perspective as well as developing the dramaturgical perspective.
Interpretive sociology is a theoretical perspective based on the idea...
Biography of Robert K. Merton, a sociologist best known for his theories of deviance. Merton also developed the concepts of
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.
Cultural capital is the ideas and knowledge that people draw upon as...
A pilot study is a research project that is conducted on a limited scale...
The functionalist perspective can be traced back to Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons and has its roots in anthropology.
A person’s movement over time from one class to another. Social mobility can be up or down.
A hypothesis is a prediction about the relationship between variables. Also defined: null hypothesis, alternative hypothesis.
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.
Demographic transition is a model used to represent the transition from...
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.
A sanction is a reward or punishment that a norm associates with a behavior...
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.
A recent study found that American professors are less likely to respond to emails from women and racial minority prospective graduate students.
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.
A master status is a social position that tends to be among the most...
Marxist sociology blends Marxism and sociology, focusing on Karl Marx’s...
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.
A total institution, a concept developed by Erving Goffman, is an isolated...
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.
Resocialization is the process by which existing social roles are...
Also known as acquired status, an achieved status is a position in a...
Some say that taboos around breastfeeding in public exist because of the U.S.'s Puritanical roots, but I see darker and more dangerous reasons.
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.
Inductive theory construction takes place during inductive research in which the researcher first observes aspects of social life and then seeks to discover patterns that may point to relatively universal principles.
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.
Modernization theory emerged in the 1950s as an explanation of how...
Participant observation is one common way for sociologists to collect data and study society in which he or she actually becomes a part of the group they are studying.
Sociologists examine problems by looking for the underlying structures and forces that cause them, and view all of these things as human made, and changeable.
Power is a key sociological concept with several different meanings...
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.
Ideographic and nomothetic methods represent two different approaches to...
In Erving Goffman’s Dramaturgical Perspective on Social Interaction, frontstage...
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.
Discover some of the major sociological works that helped define and shape the field of sociology.
Social fact is a term created by Emile Durkheim to indicate social...
Correlation analysis is useful for determining the direction and strength of a relationship between two variables.
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.
Scale of measurement refers to how variables are measured. There are...
Apple's iPhone might have been the first smartphone, but today, it has several equally impressive competitors. What makes it a best-seller? A 98 billion dollar brand.
The collective conscious is a concept developed by Emile Durkheim, who...
Variance and standard deviation are two closely related measures of variation that you will hear a lot in studies, journals, or statistics class. They are two basic and fundamental concepts in statistics that must be understood in order to understand most other statistics concepts or procedures.
The dramaturgical perspective was developed primarily by Erving Goffman
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.”
This term has two meanings in sociology. In the first sense, an aggregate...
Alienation is a concept that refers to both a psychological condition found...
Secondary analysis is the practice of analyzing data that have already...
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.
The age structure of a population is the distribution of people among various...
A formal organization is a social system organized around specific goals...
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.
Undertaking a research project can be a bit daunting if you’ve never done one before or if you are embarking on an entirely new subject or research method. Where should you start, and what are the proper steps involved? This article will help guide you through the process.
The life course is a culturally defined sequence of age categories that...
The meaning of race, from the sociological standpoint, is ever-evolving, always contested, and politically charged.
A case study is a research method that relies on a single case rather than a population or sample.
'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.
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.
In statistics, an intervening variable is one that occurs between the independent and dependent variables.
Capitalism is an economic system that emerged in Europe during the...
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.
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.
Anomie is a social condition in which there is a lack of cohesion and...
Correlation is a term that refers to the strength of a relationship between...
According to Karl Marx, class conflict and struggle occur because of the...
Base and superstructure are two concepts in Karl Marx’s view of human society.
Division of labor refers to the range of tasks within a social system....
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.
A postindustrial society is a social system in which most economic...
Exchange theory includes two approaches to social interaction and relationships.
What are base and superstructure? Why did Marx write about them? A sociologist provides a brief and easy to understand overview of these concepts.
The ideal type is an abstract model created by Max Weber
Validity is the degree to which a measurement instrument, such as a survey question, measures what we in fact think it measures.
Collective behavior is a type of social behavior that occurs in crowds or...
Researchers use content analysis to learn about a society by analyzing cultural artifacts such as newspapers, magazines, television programs, or music.
The gender pay gap is real, and can be seen in hourly earnings, weekly earnings, annual income, and wealth. It exists both across and within occupations.
A meritocracy is a social system in which people’s success in life depends...
The sociology of family examines things such as marriage, divorce, child rearing, and domestic abuse. Specifically, sociologists study how these aspects of the family are defined in different cultures and times and how they affect individuals and institutions.
'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.