The program in sociology is designed to reflect the historic importance of the discipline in the liberal arts education and tradition. The sociology curriculum teaches students to recognize how social processes, social institutions, and culture are produced through humans interacting with one another, and how social, economic, political, and historical forces shape, and are shaped by, social relationships. Through the progressive acquisition of skills, students learn the basic principles of sociology and apply these to the critical analysis of social problems, social issues, and social relationships. Research and internship opportunities in the major ask students to put their sociological knowledge and skill set to use in real-world settings. Throughout their sociological journey, students are encouraged to become responsible and engaged citizens who are committed to creating positive social change.
Sociology presents many distinctive ways of looking at the world, and its focus on critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and analysis makes an education in sociology an excellent point of departure for a number of careers. Opportunities for the sociologist are numerous and vary greatly. Historically, the most popular career fields for graduates with a sociology degree are education, social service, government, business, research, community-based organizing, and organizational management. In recent years, there has been considerable growth in medical and legal career opportunities for sociologists, as well.
What is Sociology?
Sociology is the study of social “things:” how societies organize and structure social life, the processes and dynamics of society, and the consequences these produce. Thus, sociological inquiry is very broad in its scope and diversity; among other things, sociologists seek to understand the dynamics of individual interactions and relationships, groups and group behaviors, organizations and institutions, social systems, and world societies. The tools and methods used by sociologists also vary greatly. Sociologists might do participant observation by immersing themselves in the life of a group, analyze social interactions by watching people recorded on videotape, come to understand social values by interviewing members of a community, study the formation of social institutions by reading historical documents, understand resource consumption by analyzing quantitative data compiled by government offices, or investigate group dynamics by organizing controlled laboratory experiments, to name but a few.
Sociologists develop their interests in different ways. They pursue diverse specialty subjects within the field as a whole. Thus, sociologists may specialize in families, adolescence, or children; the urban community; education; health and medicine; aging and the life course; work and occupations; the environment, science, and technology; economics, social inequality, and social class; race relations, ethnicity, and minorities; sex and gender; sports; culture and the arts; politics, the military, peace, and war; crime, delinquency, law, and justice; social change and social movements; and any other area of human organization. Willamette courses reflect some of these varying interests, as well as research methods and theory building.
Areas of Sociological Study at Willamette
- Sex and Gender
- Medicine and Healthcare
- Race and Ethnicity
- Family Studies
- Urban Studies
- Social Psychology
- Sociology of Sport
- Political Sociology
- Social Movements and Collective Action
- Sociology of Economic Change
- Crime, Delinquency, and Deviance
- Sociology of Education
- Research Methods
- Sociological Theory
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