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Areas of Study
So that students may tailor their education and research to their academic interests and career goals, the department organizes Sociology courses by areas of study. Each area identifies a concentrated area of inquiry, a set of skills within sociology, and basic preparation for a variety of careers.
Focus is on the arrangements which societies construct for the provision of material goods or services. A formal organization which provides goods or services for profit and sells them through a market is called a business, and the economic system is capitalism. Social needs are also met through government and not-for-profit organizations, such as garden clubs, hospitals, prisons, and the Red Cross. Some private and social needs are met outside of organizations, such as health care provided by family members and exchange of favors among friends. Courses stress the factors that determine whether needs that people define are met through markets or by non-market allocation, through organizations or by other means. They also investigate the environmental and technical factors that shape organization structure, the determinants of how efficiently organizations operate, and the interpersonal processes that shape individual behavior within organizations. Careers related to this field include management and administration in business or public settings, management consulting and analysis, and legal studies related to corporations, organizations, and business.
Focus is on population diversity, primarily in the United States, and on how identity is formed and maintained. Classes in this subject area address segregation, integration, and assimilation. What does it mean to cross from one group to another? How has the law treated racial minorities, sexual minorities, and immigrants differently over time? Careers related to this field include social work, teaching, research, law, management, and population studies which can be applied to any industry.
Focus is on the emergence, reproduction, and change of political systems and institutions, especially on why and how different political systems and social movements appear in different times and places, and how differences in political regimes and economic systems influence attempts to change these systems. The origins and significance of national and transnational social movements, transition to democracy, including revolution, nationalism, and other forms of collective action, in creating and sustaining these changes analyzed across countries and over time. Careers that are relevant to this field include law, public policy, government service, nonprofit and international nongovernmental organizations, business organizations (especially those with international interests), consulting, and managerial jobs.
Focus is on the social organization of individual identity, beliefs, and behavior, and upon social structures and processes which emerge in and define interpersonal interactions. Processes studied include social acceptance and competition for prestige and status, the generation of power differences, the development of intimacy bonds, the formation of expectation states which govern performance in task oriented groups, and social pressures to constrain deviance. Foundation courses emphasize the effect of social processes on individual behavior and the analysis of group processes. This field provides training for careers with a significant interpersonal component, including advertising and marketing, business, education, law, management, medicine and health, or social work.
Focus is on forms of social inequality, including fields such as: the shape and nature of social inequalities; competition for power; allocation of privilege; production and reproduction of social cleavages; and consequences of class, race, and gender for outcomes such as attitudes, political behavior, and lifestyles. Many courses emphasize changes in the structure of social inequalities over time, and the processes which produce similarities or differences in stratification across nations. Topics include educational inequality, employment history, gender differences, income distributions, poverty, race, and ethnic relations, social mobility, and status attainment. Careers related to this field include administration, advertising, education, foreign service, journalism, industrial relations, law, management consulting, market research, public policy, and social service.