Program Specialty Areas

The department has seven core areas of specialization, with flexible boundaries between them (many faculty members bridge two or more of these areas). The crime and social control area focuses on the relationship of crime, criminal justice, and social control institutions with family, community, education, and inequality. The culture and cognition area emphasizes the complex ways in which thought, culturally received symbols and values, and social interaction affect one another. The environment and sustainability area focuses on the ways people interact with the physical and natural environment, especially related to development, disaster, and risk. The gender, difference, inequality area focuses on issues of difference and inequality related to gender, race, ethnic, and class positions. The health, population, and life course area concentrates on social factors that affect health and illness, the system of medical care, and the effects of aging (through all phases of the life course) on health. The political and economic sociology area concentrates on large scale patterns of social organization, power, and conflict, with a growing emphasis on globalization. The social networks area focuses on the cultural, historical, and institutional dynamics of social relations.

These specialty areas represent the strengths of research and training among the faculty in the department. Graduate students do not formally affiliate with these areas and do not have specific course requirements for their degrees to specialize in an area.  The specialty areas reflect the types of subjects in which students can gain solid support for their own research interests. This may be concentrated in one group or at the intersection of multiple areas.