Sociology: Most Popular Articles
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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.
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.
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.
Sociological theories of the past and present.
A full transcript of Emma Watson's smart, important, sociologically informed, and compelling speech at the UN about ending gender inequality.
Learn more about sociologists by browsing through this list of some of the most famous thinkers in sociology history.
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.
A sociological discussion of the difference between prejudice and racism, with attention to the implications that follow both.
In science, there are two ways of arriving at a conclusion: deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. This article explores the differences between the two.
Learn about the history of sociology, how it came to be an academic discipline, and its evolution over the past century.
Statistical procedures can be divided into two major categories: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. This article discusses the differences between the two.
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.
Feminist theory provides one of the major contemporary approaches to sociology with its critical interrogation of power, domination, and inequality.
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Symbolic interaction theory, or symbolic interactionism, is one of the most important perspectives in
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
Labeling theory is based on the idea that behaviors are deviant only when...
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.
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.
A definition of the conflict perspective in sociology and some examples of how to use it.
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 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.
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,
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 interactionist perspective is one of the major theoretical perspectives...
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.
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.
An overview of career choices for those with a B.A., M.A., or Ph.D. in sociology.
Social structure is the organized pattern of social relationships and...
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.
Data from the Pew Research Center both debunks and confirms stereotypes, and raises troubling questions about the cultural underpinnings of gun ownership.
Mores are a set of norms that define the most fundamental ideas about...
Social control is a concept that refers to the ways in which people’s...
Far from a problem, ignoring each other in public is actually a part of maintaining a polite and safe society.
A theoretical perspective is a set of assumptions about reality that...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Describes what sociology is, its origins, current approaches to the study of sociology, and a brief overview of the major topics of sociology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are many things you can do to help end racism. This modest list targets racism at the individual, community, and national levels.
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.
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.
The nature/nurture debate is a longstanding controversy about the...
Role conflict occurs when people are confronted with incompatible role...
Social exchange theory interprets society as a series of interactions that are based on estimates of rewards and punishments.
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.
Systemic racism is a theory developed by sociologist Joe Feagin that illuminates the racist foundations of the U.S. and connects it to racism today.
Positivism is a way of thinking developed by Auguste Comte and is based...
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.
What are base and superstructure? Why did Marx write about them? A sociologist provides a brief and easy to understand overview of these concepts.
Cultural capital is the ideas and knowledge that people draw upon as...
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.
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.
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.
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 hypothesis is a prediction about the relationship between variables. Also defined: null hypothesis, alternative hypothesis.
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.
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.
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.
Biography of Robert K. Merton, a sociologist best known for his theories of deviance. Merton also developed the concepts of
Exchange theory includes two approaches to social interaction and relationships.
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.
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.
In Erving Goffman’s Dramaturgical Perspective on Social Interaction, frontstage...
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.
A person’s movement over time from one class to another. Social mobility can be up or down.
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.
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.
Cultural lag is a term to describe what happens in a social system when...
A total institution, a concept developed by Erving Goffman, is an isolated...
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.
Biography of Erving Goffman, a sociologist known for his role in shaping the symbolic interaction perspective as well as developing the dramaturgical perspective.
Power is a key sociological concept with several different meanings...
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.
Biography of Georg Simmel, a sociologist best known for his neo-Kantian approach to sociology, which laid the foundations for sociological anti positivism, and his structuralist styles of reasoning.
Xenocentrism is a culturally based tendency to value other cultures more...
Biography of C. Wright Mills, a sociologist best known for his controversial critiques of both contemporary society and sociological practice.
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.
The functionalist perspective can be traced back to Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons and has its roots in anthropology.
A pilot study is a research project that is conducted on a limited scale...
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.
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.
About.com's resource for all things Weber: his life, his work, and his sociological legacy.
A controlled experiment is a highly focused way of collecting data and is especially useful for determining patterns of cause and effect.
Popular culture is the accumulated store of cultural products
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.
The meaning of race, from the sociological standpoint, is ever-evolving, always contested, and politically charged.
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.
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.
Ascribed status is a position in a social system that is beyond an individual’s...
Radical feminists believe that gender inequality is a result of the collective efforts of men to dominate, control, and exploit women.
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.
Resocialization is the process by which existing social roles are...
A formal organization is a social system organized around specific goals...
Norms, according to sociologists, are rules, both implicit and explicit, that guide our behavior . Sociologist
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.
Discover some of the major sociological works that helped define and shape the field of sociology.
Folkways are a set of norms in a social system that govern commonly...
This term has two meanings in sociology. In the first sense, an aggregate...
Also known as acquired status, an achieved status is a position in a...
Interpretive sociology is a theoretical perspective based on the idea...
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.”
Modernization theory emerged in the 1950s as an explanation of how...
What Emma Watson said about masculinity at the UN eloquently synthesized years of sociological research on gender and violence.
Anomie is a social condition in which there is a lack of cohesion and...
The structural strain theory was developed by Robert K. Merton as a part...
Alienation is a concept that refers to both a psychological condition found...
A postindustrial society is a social system in which most economic...
Conflict theory is helpful tool for understanding and analyzing the Occupy Central protests happening in Hong Kong.
'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.
Marriage is a socially supported union involving two or more individuals in...
Primary relationships are based on ties of affection and personal...
Ideographic and nomothetic methods represent two different approaches to...
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.
In honor of the 157th birthday of Émile Durkheim, we take a look at why his work remains important to sociologists today.
A master status is a social position that tends to be among the most...
An industrial society is a social system whose mode of production focuses...
Cultural relativism is a concept that refers to the fact that what is...
A meritocracy is a social system in which people’s success in life depends...
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.
Biography of Alexis de Tocqueville, a sociologist best known for his book 'Democracy in America.' Tocqueville published many works in the areas of comparative and historical sociology and was very active in politics and the field of political science.
Analysis of Variance, or ANOVA for short, is a statistical test that looks for significant differences between means.
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.
The definition of the situation is what people use to know what is...
Secondary analysis is the practice of analyzing data that have already...
A brief biography and overview of key intellectual contributions of Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci.
'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.
Michel Foucault's contributions to how we understand knowledge and power are still widely relevant today. Get to know the man and his work.
Scale of measurement refers to how variables are measured. There are...
W.E.B. Du Bois was born 147 years ago today. Learn about the greatest hits of this early American sociologist and civil rights activist.
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.
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.
As the privatization of everything unfolds and disaster capitalism reigns, C. Wright Mills' critique of the power elite has never been more relevant.
Though society exerts a lot of force in shaping our lives, individuals express agency in a multitude of big and small ways, everyday.
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.
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.