Sociology

Sociology

If you are interested in pursuing a degree or finding a job in the field of sociology, everything you need is here. Find the best schools, career information, history of the discipline, influential people in the field, great books, and more.

What Is Sociology?

Sociology is the academic study of human society from diverse points of view—economic, political, psychological, and religious, but above all “social.” A degree in sociology could lead to a career in a wide array of fields including public relations, human services, or public policy, among others.

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The Best Sociology Colleges and Universities

We rank universities and colleges from around the world based on the scholarly work of their faculty and alumni. These colleges and universities are making the biggest impact on the sociology discipline today.

  1. Harvard University
  2. Paris Sciences et Lettres University
  3. University of California, Berkeley
  4. Columbia University
  5. University of Chicago
  6. University of Michigan
  7. Yale University
  8. Stanford University
  9. New York University
  10. Princeton University

For a dynamic, real-time listing of the most influential sociology schools in the world, use our Custom College Ranking.

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The Best Online Sociology Degrees

A sociology degree is a popular major at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A growing number of reputable colleges and universities are satisfying demand for this degree by providing an array of high-quality online sociology degree options. Using our InfluenceRanking engine, we’ve identified the best among them. Check out our growing set of rankings for online sociology degree programs at every level of education.

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Sociology Degrees

What Will I Study as a Sociology Major?

As a sociology major, you’ll study topics such as critical social theory, society and political systems, research methods, sociology of the law, and more.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Sociology

Graduates with a bachelor’s in sociology can seek a variety of professions, including public relations specialists, human resources managers, social workers, and market research analysts, among others.

If you’d like to explore these career opportunities in more depth...

How To Get a Degree in Sociology

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Who are the Most Influential Sociologists of All Time?

Sociology is recognized as an expansive educational discipline, one touching on countless areas of life. This extremely nuanced and complex area of study has been shaped by the influence of pioneers in the field of sociology. Below, you will find some of the most influential sociologists of all time.

  1. Max Weber was a German sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economist, who is regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of modern Western society. His ideas profoundly influence social theory and research.
  2. Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.
  3. Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline of sociology and, with Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science.
  4. Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist of the classical tradition, best known for his social action theory and structural functionalism.
  5. Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher, and public intellectual. Bourdieu’s contributions to the sociology of education, the theory of sociology, and sociology of aesthetics have achieved wide influence in several related academic fields .
  6. Auguste Comte was a French philosopher and writer who formulated the doctrine of positivism. He is often regarded as the first philosopher of science in the modern sense of the term.
  7. Robert K. Merton was an American sociologist who is considered a founding father of modern sociology, and a major contributor to the subfield of criminology.
  8. George Simmel was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, presenting pioneering analyses of social individuality and fragmentation.
  9. Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas is a German philosopher mostly associated with the influential Frankurt School in Germany. Habermas is a famed philosopher who has taught a number of influential philosophers, including Hans Joas at the University of Chicago.
  10. Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, and sociologist famous for his hypothesis of social Darwinism whereby superior physical force shapes history. Spencer originated the expression “survival of the fittest”.
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Who Are Currently the Most Influential Sociologists?

The following are the top sociologists in the field today according to our machine-powered Influence Rankings, which are drawn from a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  • Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas is a German philosopher mostly associated with the influential Frankurt School in Germany. Habermas is a famed philosopher who has taught a number of influential philosophers, including Hans Joas at the University of Chicago.
  • Judith Butler is the Maxine Ellio Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Patricia Hill Collins holds the title of University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Collins also holds the distinction of being the 100th president of the American Sociological Association, the first African-American woman to do so.
  • John Bellamy Foster is the editor of Monthly Review and a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is a well-known scholar in Marxist theory, ecological crises, and the political economy of capitalism.
  • Peter L. Berger was an Austrian-born American sociologist and Protestant theologian. Berger became known for his work in the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of religion, study of modernization, and theoretical contributions to sociological theory.
  • Anthony Giddens is an English sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern sociologists and is the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29 languages, issuing on average more than one book every year.
  • Edward O. Wilson is the world’s leading expert on ants, a specialty known as myrmecology, but that’s not all. He is also considered the father of biodiversity and the father of sociobiology.
  • Allan Schnaiberg was an American sociologist known especially for his contributions to environmental sociology.
  • Charles Tilly was an American sociologist, political scientist, and historian who wrote on the relationship between politics and society.
  • Mark Granovetter is a professor at Stanford University. He is a prominent sociologist who earned an A.B. in history at Princeton University and a Ph.D in sociology from Harvard University.

Learn about more influential sociologists.

Interviews with Top Sociologists

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Great Books About Sociology

The following are the most influential books in the field of sociology today according to our backstage Ranking Analytics tool, which calculates the influence of various sources in both academics and popular culture using a numerical scoring of citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  1. The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home by Arlie Russell Hochschild and Anne Machung. This book recounts the research performed by the authors to determine the differential between men’s and women’s contributions to household work and childcare activities, and their attitudes towards this differential.
  2. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau and Erik M. Conway finds that many middle-class families intervene intentionally in their children’s development by providing an enriched cultural environment, while many working-class families assume that children develop through natural growth without the need for parental intervention. The authors conclude that social class is a more-important factor than race in determining whether parenting provides for concerted cultivation.
  3. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild recounts the author’s attempt to understand the so-called “Tea Party movement,” which was a 2009, conservative, grass-roots revolt against the joint Republican-Democratic political establishment in the US.
  4. The Managed Heart: The Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild studied two jobs which are diametrically opposed in relation to the emotional effect they demand of their workers: airline flight attendants and bill collectors. The author estimates that as many as one-half of American women hold jobs that require substantial emotional labor (such as required by flight attendants), while only around one-third of American men hold such jobs.
  5. The Sociological Imagination by C. Wright Mills challenges the methodology of first-generation American sociology pioneer, Talcott Parsons (1902–1979). Namely, Mills held that Parsons’s structuralist functionalism was overly abstract and simplistic.
  6. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann is most important for having introduced the concept of “social construction” into the discipline of sociology.
  7. The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills . The book’s principal thesis is very quickly stated: the power structure of the United States is strongly marked by cooperation among three closely, but informally, aligned entities: the government, giant corporations, and the military.
  8. The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations by Norbert Elias discusses the way in which social attitudes mold individuals’ psychic structures.
  9. Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies by Charles Perrow explains that catastrophic failures of high-risk, complex technological systems are not necessarily anyone’s fault, but in many cases are inevitable due to the inherent limitations of our ability to understand, anticipate, and perfectly control such systems.
  10. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins explores the concrete creative work of black feminist artists and other creative individuals in a variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, music, and oral history. The result is a wide-ranging exposition of the lived experience and constructed social realities of Black women within American society.

Learn about more great sociology books.

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Sociology Controversial Topics

The important field of sociology touches on almost all aspects of the social dimension of human existence, from economical, political, psychological, and religious. The practice of sociology also focuses on everything from the individual, to the nuclear family, to business firms, to municipalities, counties, states (or provinces), to countries, to various multi-national groupings. As such, we have developed a number of controversial topics related to the sociology discipline. We’ll do our best to provide objective and fact-based information on these controversies.