About the Department
Sociologists study systems made up of relations among people, such as families, formal organizations, ethnic groups, or countries and their politics. The Northwestern Sociology Department concentrates especially on those relations that create and maintain inequalities, looking at the social movements, legal and economic systems, institutions, organizations, and cultural forms that shape, redress, or defend these systems of inequality.
We teach courses and do research on relations between men and women, racial and ethnic groups, rich and poor, and workers and managers, and the feminist, civil rights, and labor movements that grow from them. As a discipline, Sociology blends scientific and humanistic approaches. This department uses and teaches four main methods: quantitative survey methods, historical and comparative methods, ethnographic methods, and cultural analysis.
A department is not just an intellectual discipline. It is also a place where people teach and learn, meet requirements for degrees, prepare for and pursue careers, and develop and maintain intellectual, professional, and personal ties. The evidence suggests we are doing these tasks well. The books and articles of the faculty and students regularly win prizes and honors and we do extremely well in national ranking systems. Even our most demanding courses are well received by both majors and nonmajors. And one could make a plausible case for eavesdropping on our hallway conversations as a good introduction to the sociological imagination.
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