Core Clusters

Health, Population, and Biomedicine

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Health is typically thought to be the domain of the allied medical fields, but the health of populations are deeply sociocultural phenomena. The sociological study of health, population, and biomedicine enables analyses of the critical role that social factors play in the health of individuals, groups, and the larger society. Our department’s program in health, population and biomedicine provides students with the theoretical and methodological tools to think beyond biology in order to answer some of the thorniest questions in medicine and public health.

Our program proudly continues a long tradition of excellence in medical sociology at Rutgers University. In the late 1970s, David Mechanic established the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IHHCPAR), which continues to serve as an important interdisciplinary home for research on the social and cultural determinants of health. Research in population and the life course originated here during the 1960s. Matilda White Riley, Anne Foner, and others developed the age stratification model, which continues to be one of the major paradigms in this area. Our award-winning faculty today conduct research on a broad set of subjects across the sociology of medicine, population health, and biomedicine including demographic research on suicide rates in the United States (Phillips), children’s health assessments (Bzostek), pain and stigma (Kempner), race and biomedicine (Bliss, Lee), Black American health (Mouzon), community contexts and health (Lei), environmental health (MacKendrick), gendered effects on biomarkers (Springer), and the sociology of drugs (Kempner).

We offer rigorous graduate training and mentoring in medical sociology, population studies as well as the politics of knowledge. Our most recent graduates have secured positions as tenure-track assistant professors, postdoctoral fellows, or research scientists at prestigious institutions including the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, Columbia School of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medicine, National Center for Health Statistics, Brown University, University of Maryland-Baltimore, University of Delaware, Princeton University, RAND Corporation, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University. At the undergraduate level, we offer a variety of courses on social dimensions of health and medicine. Our minor in Health and Society provides students with an excellent opportunity to study questions of physical and mental health, health behaviors and practices, and health care institutions, through a social and cultural lens, and across national and global contexts.

Global Structures

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Mission Statement

There is nothing normal or inevitable about the way in which the world is arranged. The globe as we know it is a historical product: Its current structures used not to exist – they have emerged over time – and they will eventually give way to other structures. The world is not a natural composite of competing and/or cooperating nation-states. Nor is it an even playing field, in which individuals (currently just over seven billion of us humans) compete for resources, power and recognition through a gallant and fair game so that the best win and the undeserving lose. The world is, instead, an ever more tightly interconnected set of hierarchies. It forms a historical system that produces its own racialized and gendered inequalities, economic injustices, power differentials, new cultural, religious and aesthetic forms of expression, conflicts, resistance and change. The recognition that a powerful global process is driving the gentrification of poor neighborhoods, shaping the financial crisis in Europe, or farmers’ suicide in India, mass displacement of indigenous communities, or transnational uprisings opened tremendous possibilities for sociological investigation. Our aim is to build competence, create bridges through scholarly engagements with other disciplines and global centers across the World, and make creative contributions in this burgeoning field. Our faculty and students engage these questions through their interest in:

  • Race, localities and racializations,
  • Gender, sexualities and sexisms,
  • Geopolitics, nationalisms, imperialisms,
  • Alternatives to capitalism,
  • Environmental crisis and preservation
  • World and global histories,
  • Global-local memories and politics of historiography,
  • Migration and transnationalism,
  • Scale, space and place,
  • Representations and repressions,
  • Internationalisms and solidarities,
  • Oppression and resistance,
  • War, militarism and peace –

Environment and Sustainability

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The Department of Sociology at Rutgers University offers one of the most expansive and outstanding national graduate programs in the sociology of the environment and sustainability. Environment and sustainability (or environmental sociology) is a subfield of the discipline that captures society-environment interactions and sustainability across a number of research areas, theoretical orientations, and methods. The sociology of environment and sustainability is inherently interdisciplinary, open to a wide range of interpretations and approaches.

Eight sociologists make up our graduate faculty, with three located in the neighboring Department of Human Ecology (School of Environmental and Biological Sciences) and one in the School of Communications & Information. Faculty in our program employ multiple research methods and maintain active research programs across numerous research and teaching areas, including:

  • climate change, mitigation and adaptation
  • climate finance, policy, advocacy and promotion
  • energy and energy use
  • environmental health
  • environmental history and policy
  • environmental and sustainable organizations (industry, nonprofits/civil society, and international organizations, “green” publicity and marketing)
  • environmentalisms, media and environment; public opinion
  • gender
  • green jobs
  • food and sustainable food systems;
  • sustainable consumption and environmental behaviors
  • risk and disasters

Students in our graduate program are exposed to varied professional experts and networks, and have access to a deep bench of faculty members for mentorship, supervision, and committee assignments. In addition to earning a Ph.D. in Sociology, graduate students who specialize in environment and sustainability have the opportunity to earn a Graduate Certificate in Human Dimensions of Environmental Change.  Graduates from our PhD program have successfully secured research and teaching positions across many settings – from top liberal arts colleges to large research universities in sociology, human ecology, and environmental studies programs, to employment in nonprofits, government agencies and think tanks. Our undergraduates have the opportunity to take a variety of sociology courses centered on environmental issues. A number of these courses fulfill requirements in the interdisciplinary major/minor, Environmental Studies, housed in the Geography department.

Gender, Sexuality and Embodiment

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Mission Statement

Rutgers University has long been known for its strengths in the area of gender and women's studies. The Department of Sociology builds upon those strengths, and today includes eleven core faculty members who regularly offer graduate seminars in race, class and gender; sociology of gender; feminist theory; inequalities; sexualities; the body; gender and globalization; and gender and the self.

Our approach to the sociology of gender focuses upon issues of difference and inequality. We look at gender across racial, ethnic, national, sexual, and religious differences, drawing linkages to cultural studies, post-structuralism, race studies, and post-colonial and globalization studies, and to theories of identities, boundaries, performance, and symbolic representation. We are also centrally interested in issues relating to the distribution of resources, comparing the situations of women and men, looking at inequality among women, among men, and at different local, state, and global structural locations.

Our students work on a wide range of projects, including transgender issues, transnational identities, gender theory, the body, and emotions, among others, as the following list of dissertation topics indicates.

Our work in the Department is enhanced by ongoing interdisciplinary efforts in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, which offers graduate courses and a Graduate Certificate in women’s studies, the Institute for Research on Women, which hosts a yearlong interdisciplinary seminar for faculty and graduate students, the Center for Women and Work, the Center for Women's Global Leadership, and other programs at the university.

Culture and Cognition

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The field of sociology of culture addresses questions of the social creation and implications of symbols, language, ideas, art, religion, science, media, law, institutions, interactions, and subjective experiences. The field also provides distinct frameworks for approaching social research, and theoretical perspectives on the nature of human action and thought. It is a big and diverse subfield of sociology that accommodates many substantive topics, theoretical traditions, and methodological perspectives. Many cultural sociologists are interested in using the lens of culture and insights about shared meanings to understand issues such as inequality, race, gender, politics, health, migration, economics, and organizations.

The Rutgers sociology department has been at the forefront of an approach to culture that takes seriously the role of cognition, including mental representations, cognitive processes, and their interaction with the body. Scholars of culture and cognition are interested in topics such as: the nature of mental structures, representations, and memory; the social bases of cognitive processes; and processes of human behavior. Work in this area often draws on insights from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Professors Karen Cerulo and Eviatar Zerubavel have pioneered important and distinct perspectives on cognition and culture that are widely acclaimed and used within sociology. Several faculty (Cerulo, Gerson, Shepherd, Zerubavel) pursue work on these topics.

Faculty and students at Rutgers work on a number of topics within the sociology of culture including how technology, art, and media are produced and contribute to the circulation of symbols and meanings (Cerulo, Chaudhary, Davidson, Jones, Kempner, McLean, Shepherd); how knowledge and expertise are produced and deployed (Cerulo, Jones, Kempner, Lee, MacKendrick, Shepherd); how social networks capture interaction, meanings, and relationships (McLean, Shepherd); how social context contributes to the meaning of identity, especially regarding race, class, religion, sexuality, and gender (Borocz, Brooks, Cerulo, Chaudhary, Dinzey-Flores, Gerson, Jones, MacKendrick, Salime, Stein, Zerubavel); how the physical body, bodily experiences, and representations of the body interact with the social world (Cerulo, Kempner, Lee, MacKendrick, Stein); and finally, how aspects of culture are associated with differential power and can be deployed in the service of power and exclusion (Borocz, Brooks, Cerulo, Dinzey-Flores, Jones, Lee, McLean, Salime, Stein, Zerubavel).

The Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers provides faculty and graduate student fellowships to pursue work in cultural sociology. Graduate students interested in this area have pursued many different types of projects using diverse methods and approaches to research. We offer a wide array of graduate classes in this area, and graduate students interested in the sociology of culture benefit from methodological training in qualitative methods, narratives, ethnography, quantitative methods, and network methods, among others. Our graduates have been highly successful in crafting award-winning articles and dissertations, and in obtaining outstanding placements upon completion of our program. At the undergraduate level, students interested in the study of culture and its associated phenomenon can take classes in the Sociology of Culture (220), Seminar in Cognitive Sociology, Law and Society, Race, Science, and Medicine, and topics classes such as Food, Culture and Society. Many undergraduate sociology majors pursue honors projects related to the sociology of culture.

 
 

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  1. Crime and Social Control

Crime and Social Control

The question of how societies attain order and control their populations is a foundational concern within sociology. Crime is also important within sociology, both as a salient challenge to social control and a means through which societies affirm their values and norms. The Department of Sociology faculty has long addressed the sources and consequences of crime and social control for individuals and society. A number of the sociology faculty (Hirschfield and Krivo) in this core cluster are also affiliated with the inter-disciplinary criminal justice program within the School of Arts and Sciences established in 2000.

The eight faculty members that comprise the cluster in crime and social control represent a wide range of methodological and theoretical approaches. However, they share a distinctly sociological orientation, situating crime, whether in the form of adult offending, delinquency, or violence, in relation to inequalities and differences along the lines of race/ethnicity, class, gender, or geography. These scholars also examine social institutions both as sources of crime and deviance and as agents of prevention, control and suppression. Institutions, practices, and subjects of particular interest to faculty include urban communities (Dinzey-Flores, Krivo), urban policy and design (Dinzey-Flores), schools (Hirschfield, Shepherd), families (Phillips), peer groups (Shepherd), law enforcement (Hirschfield), segregation and ethno-racial inequality (Dinzey-Flores, Krivo, Phillips), and the juvenile justice system (Hirschfield).

The Sociology faculty conducting research in this area have assembled or help manage unique community-level, state, or national data sets that provide opportunities for graduate students to engage in research on the intersection of various social control institutions (schools, neighborhoods, police, courts, and juvenile justice) and crime. Cluster members have taught a variety of graduate courses related to crime, social control, and punishment and supervised several dissertations pertaining to such topics. Our graduate students have had success in winning university and national awards and in obtaining excellent placements upon graduation. At the undergraduate level, we offer a number of dynamic courses in the area of crime and social control as well as the opportunity to minor in criminology. Students who minor in criminology are particularly likely to encounter faculty in this cluster both in sociology courses and in criminal justice courses.

Culture and Cognition

The field of sociology of culture addresses questions of the social creation and implications of symbols, language, ideas, art, religion, science, media, law, institutions, interactions, and subjective experiences. The field also provides distinct frameworks for approaching social research, and theoretical perspectives on the nature of human action and thought. It is a big and diverse subfield of sociology that accommodates many substantive topics, theoretical traditions, and methodological perspectives. Many cultural sociologists are interested in using the lens of culture and insights about shared meanings to understand issues such as inequality, race, gender, politics, health, migration, economics, and organizations.

The Rutgers sociology department has been at the forefront of an approach to culture that takes seriously the role of cognition, including mental representations, cognitive processes, and their interaction with the body. Scholars of culture and cognition are interested in topics such as: the nature of mental structures, representations, and memory; the social bases of cognitive processes; and processes of human behavior. Work in this area often draws on insights from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Professors Karen Cerulo and Eviatar Zerubavel have pioneered important and distinct perspectives on cognition and culture that are widely acclaimed and used within sociology. Several faculty (Cerulo, Gerson, Shepherd, Zerubavel) pursue work on these topics.

Faculty and students at Rutgers work on a number of topics within the sociology of culture including how technology, art, and media are produced and contribute to the circulation of symbols and meanings (Cerulo, Chaudhary, Davidson, Jones, Kempner, McLean, Shepherd); how knowledge and expertise are produced and deployed (Cerulo, Jones, Kempner, Lee, MacKendrick, Shepherd); how social networks capture interaction, meanings, and relationships (McLean, Shepherd); how social context contributes to the meaning of identity, especially regarding race, class, religion, sexuality, and gender (Borocz, Brooks, Cerulo, Chaudhary, Dinzey-Flores, Gerson, Jones, MacKendrick, Salime, Stein, Zerubavel); how the physical body, bodily experiences, and representations of the body interact with the social world (Cerulo, Kempner, Lee, MacKendrick, Stein); and finally, how aspects of culture are associated with differential power and can be deployed in the service of power and exclusion (Borocz, Brooks, Cerulo, Dinzey-Flores, Jones, Lee, McLean, Salime, Stein, Zerubavel).

The Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers provides faculty and graduate student fellowships to pursue work in cultural sociology. Graduate students interested in this area have pursued many different types of projects using diverse methods and approaches to research. We offer a wide array of graduate classes in this area, and graduate students interested in the sociology of culture benefit from methodological training in qualitative methods, narratives, ethnography, quantitative methods, and network methods, among others. Our graduates have been highly successful in crafting award-winning articles and dissertations, and in obtaining outstanding placements upon completion of our program. At the undergraduate level, students interested in the study of culture and its associated phenomenon can take classes in the Sociology of Culture (220), Seminar in Cognitive Sociology, Law and Society, Race, Science, and Medicine, and topics classes such as Food, Culture and Society. Many undergraduate sociology majors pursue honors projects related to the sociology of culture.

Environment and Sustainability

The Department of Sociology at Rutgers University offers one of the most expansive and outstanding national graduate programs in the sociology of the environment and sustainability. Environment and sustainability (or environmental sociology) is a subfield of the discipline that captures society-environment interactions and sustainability across a number of research areas, theoretical orientations, and methods. The sociology of environment and sustainability is inherently interdisciplinary, open to a wide range of interpretations and approaches.

Eight sociologists make up our graduate faculty, with three located in the neighboring Department of Human Ecology (School of Environmental and Biological Sciences) and one in the School of Communications & Information. Faculty in our program employ multiple research methods and maintain active research programs across numerous research and teaching areas, including:

  • climate change, mitigation and adaptation
  • climate finance, policy, advocacy and promotion
  • energy and energy use
  • environmental health
  • environmental history and policy
  • environmental and sustainable organizations (industry, nonprofits/civil society, and international organizations, “green” publicity and marketing)
  • environmentalisms, media and environment; public opinion
  • gender
  • green jobs
  • food and sustainable food systems;
  • sustainable consumption and environmental behaviors
  • risk and disasters

Students in our graduate program are exposed to varied professional experts and networks, and have access to a deep bench of faculty members for mentorship, supervision, and committee assignments. In addition to earning a Ph.D. in Sociology, graduate students who specialize in environment and sustainability have the opportunity to earn a Graduate Certificate in Human Dimensions of Environmental Change.  Graduates from our PhD program have successfully secured research and teaching positions across many settings – from top liberal arts colleges to large research universities in sociology, human ecology, and environmental studies programs, to employment in nonprofits, government agencies and think tanks. Our undergraduates have the opportunity to take a variety of sociology courses centered on environmental issues. A number of these courses fulfill requirements in the interdisciplinary major/minor, Environmental Studies, housed in the Geography department.

Gender, Sexuality and Embodiment

Mission Statement

Rutgers University has long been known for its strengths in the area of gender and women's studies. The Department of Sociology builds upon those strengths, and today includes eleven core faculty members who regularly offer graduate seminars in race, class and gender; sociology of gender; feminist theory; inequalities; sexualities; the body; gender and globalization; and gender and the self.

Our approach to the sociology of gender focuses upon issues of difference and inequality. We look at gender across racial, ethnic, national, sexual, and religious differences, drawing linkages to cultural studies, post-structuralism, race studies, and post-colonial and globalization studies, and to theories of identities, boundaries, performance, and symbolic representation. We are also centrally interested in issues relating to the distribution of resources, comparing the situations of women and men, looking at inequality among women, among men, and at different local, state, and global structural locations.

Our students work on a wide range of projects, including transgender issues, transnational identities, gender theory, the body, and emotions, among others, as the following list of dissertation topics indicates.

Our work in the Department is enhanced by ongoing interdisciplinary efforts in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, which offers graduate courses and a Graduate Certificate in women’s studies, the Institute for Research on Women, which hosts a yearlong interdisciplinary seminar for faculty and graduate students, the Center for Women and Work, the Center for Women's Global Leadership, and other programs at the university.

Health, Population, and Biomedicine

Health is typically thought to be the domain of the allied medical fields, but the health of populations are deeply sociocultural phenomena. The sociological study of health, population, and biomedicine enables analyses of the critical role that social factors play in the health of individuals, groups, and the larger society. Our department’s program in health, population and biomedicine provides students with the theoretical and methodological tools to think beyond biology in order to answer some of the thorniest questions in medicine and public health.

We are proud to continue a long tradition of excellence in medical sociology at Rutgers University. In the late 1970s, David Mechanic established the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IHHCPAR), which continues to serve as an important interdisciplinary home for research on the social and cultural determinants of health. Research in population and the life course also has a long history at Rutgers, having originated here during the 1960s. One of the major paradigms in this area, the age stratification model, was developed at Rutgers by Matilda White Riley, Anne Foner, and others. Our award-winning faculty today conduct research on a broad set of subjects across the sociology of medicine, population health, and biomedicine including demographic research on suicide rates in the United States (Phillips), children’s health assessments (Bzostek), pain and stigma (Kempner), race and biomedicine (Bliss, Lee), aging in Asia (Lei), environmental health (Mackendrick), and gendered effects on biomarkers (Springer).

We offer rigorous graduate training and mentoring in medical sociology, population studies as well as the politics of knowledge. Our most recent graduates have secured positions as tenure-track assistant professors, postdoctoral fellows, or research scientists at prestigious institutions including the Bloustein School of Public Policy at Rutgers University, Columbia School of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medicine, National Center for Health Statistics, Brown University, University of Maryland-Baltimore, University of Delaware, Princeton University, RAND Corporation, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University. At the undergraduate level, we offer a variety of courses on social dimensions of health and medicine. Our minor in Health and Society provides students with an excellent opportunity to study questions of physical and mental health, health behaviors and practices, and health care institutions, through a social and cultural lens, and across national and global contexts.