Sociology is the discipline that takes groups seriously. We think about groups – as small as two, as large as an entire society – as truly different from the individuals who compose them and study the interplay between them. We also seek to understand social inequalities, patterns of behavior, forces of social change and resistance, and how social systems work.
Since human behavior is shaped by social factors, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob; from organized crime to religious cults; from divisions of race, gender, social class, sexuality, or age to the shared beliefs of a common culture; and from the sociology of work to the sociology of sports. In fact, few fields have such broad scope and relevance for research, theory, and the application of knowledge as Sociology.
Sociology provides many distinctive perspectives on the world, generating new ideas and critiquing the old. The field offers a range of research techniques that can be applied to virtually any aspect of social life: street crime and delinquency, corporate downsizing, how people express emotions, welfare or education reform, how families differ and flourish, or problems of peace and war.
Because Sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our time, it is a rapidly expanding field whose potential is increasingly tapped by those who craft policies and create social programs.