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Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts.
Since all human behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob; from organized crime to religious cults; from the culturally specific aspects of race, gender and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture; and from the sociology of work to the sociology of sports. In fact, few fields have such broad scope and relevance for research, theory, and application of knowledge.
Sociology provides many distinctive perspectives on the world, generating new ideas and critiquing the established ideologies. The field also offers a range of research techniques that can be applied to virtually any aspect of social life: street crime and delinquency, corporate downsizing, how people express emotions, welfare or education reform, how families differ and flourish, or problems of peace and war.
Because sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our time, it is a rapidly expanding field whose potential is increasingly tapped by those who craft policies and create programs. Sociologists understand and analyze social inequality, patterns of behavior, forces for social change and resistance, and how social systems work. Sociology is an exciting discipline with expanding opportunities for a wide range of career paths.
What is Sociology at UNCW?
The UNCW Sociology Program offers a comprehensive introduction to the study of human society and social interaction. All sociology students take a core set of courses: Introduction to Sociology, Research Methods, Data Analysis, and Social Theory. In these core courses, students learn about the dynamics of how people socially relate to one another and how society is organized. They also learn how to do research on human populations by collecting and analyzing social data, using computer-assisted technology.
Our sociology students can choose between two concentrations: general sociology and public sociology.
Students complete the core courses described above and choose an additional 24 hours of sociology courses in such areas as socialization and the life course, population and ecology, social institutions, social inequality and social change, and deviance and social control. In their senior year, general sociology students complete their own semester long research project under the direction of a sociology faculty member.
Public Sociology involves taking sociology beyond the boundaries of the university: it is a sociology that “seeks to bring sociology to publics beyond the academy, promoting dialogue about issues that affect the fate of society” (Burawoy 2004). In the Public Sociology Program, students learn how to use sociology to inform real life social issues. In addition to the core courses above, Public Sociology students take a Public Sociology Seminar and declare a sociological specialization. With the help of the Public Sociology Coordinator, students design a substantive area of focus for their Public Sociology Program requirements.
Essentially, students should identify 6 three-hour courses in a substantive area. There are many options in designing a substantive area. Students should meet with the Public Sociology Coordinator early to design their concentration area. The Public Sociology option requires a two semester sequential course offering: SOC 390 is taken in the fall semester where students identify a research topic to examine in the spring semester. This course includes writing a literature review and a research design to be implemented in the following spring. This course is immediately followed by SOC 496 in the spring semester. This is a semester-long practicum (6 credit hours) in which students gain hands-on experience in applying sociology methods and theory by working in partnership with local community agencies and organizations and residents to address, through scholarly engagement, a critical social problem in the area. Students present their research findings at the end of the spring semester to City Council and other relevant organizations, as well as at our annual Public Sociology Community Breakfast Research Symposium, every May.