Sociology is among the newest of the social sciences. Prior to the rapid population growth brought on by industrialization, few people noticed social interactions or thought to study them critically. A society’s way of life and its culture were viewed as “normal” or “natural” and almost never scrutinized. But as more people lived in face-to-face contact, juxtaposed to people whose culture differed, often radically, thoughtful and curious observers began to reflect on various forms and consequences of social interactions.

Born within that tempest of societal transformation, today’s sociology still attempts to make sense of both mundane and dramatic social changes. The subject matter of sociology ranges from the Self to the hostile mob, organized crime to religious cults, from shared cultural meanings to divisions of race, class and gender, and from historical institutions of work, health and education to nascent technologies. Some of the questions sociologists ask are: “What are the relationships between social class and health outcomes, between gender and divorce, between race and education? How and why do we develop and pass down the institutions and forms of knowledge we do? How and why do humans become divided into identifiable groups based on ethnicity, sex, class, and power? How do technology and collective action shape and change the world?”

Sociological research has great potential to have practical effects on everyday life. For instance, currently sociologists are studying the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the elderly and low-income evacuees, and what led to the weaknesses in the government response to the disaster. Others are looking at the costs and effects of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. Here are some examples of sociological research that can make life better:

Sociologist ranks 8 of 200 careers in America recently ranked 200 careers in the U.S., based on their income potential, working conditions, competitiveness, hiring outlook, stress, and physical exertion. Sociologist came in as No. 8.  Read the report.

What can I do with a degree in sociology?

In 2007, the American Sociological Association conducted a survey of those who graduated in 2005 with a BA in sociology. Here’s what those graduates were doing two years after graduation:

Nearly 70% of them said they were in jobs that were somewhat or closely related to the sociological skills they acquired in college. This was particularly true if they had communicated those skills to their employer. Among the most useful skills were those in research methods, but here are other skills you will gain from a sociology major:

See the expected learning outcomes for a sociology major.
After completing a sociology major, we expect a student to minimally be able to:


Sociological Organizations and Further Resources

Books about sociology


The Biever Award is an annual award given in memory of Rev. Bruce Biever, who served as Professor and Chairperson of Social and Cultural Sciences for many years and was deeply committed to teaching.

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The fascination of sociology lies in the fact that its perspective makes us see in a new light the very world in which we have lived all our lives

~ Peter Berger



Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.

~ C. Wright Mills









Social and Cultural Sciences Majors

Check out our suggested curriculum for our four majors:

Criminology and Law Studies
Social Welfare and Justice