Sociology

Program Offerings

Offering type
A.B.

Sociology at Princeton offers a cutting-edge undergraduate major for people interested in the social dimensions of politics, economics, history, psychology and demography. The major encourages students to engage in cross-disciplinary thinking even as it provides a thorough grounding in a single field. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches to social science are utilized by our students and faculty.

Princeton sociology graduates are admitted to the leading medical, law and business schools; and they take jobs from Wall Street to social activism. Students majoring in sociology are in increasing demand as corporations and governments want graduates with the conceptual and/or statistical tools to make sense of rapid social change and the recent explosion of digital data generated by the web.

Department faculty do research and teaching on important topics of concern in the "real world," from social networks, immigration and inequality to globalization, politics and economic sociology.

Goals for Student Learning

Sociology is the systematic study of human action, from face-to-face interaction to organizational behavior to that of nation-states. It is the most methodologically inclusive of the social sciences and incorporates qualitative, quantitative, experimental, historical and machine learning within its research toolkit. Despite its diverse subject matter and methods, the sociology major has been designed to provide a coherent intellectual experience that is both rigorous and responsive to a range of academic and career interests. Our student learning goals are fivefold:

  1. Students will come to understand the ways in which the lives of individuals and social groups are affected by social context and will demonstrate an ability to explain or interpret social phenomena via reference to core sociological concepts (e.g., culture, social structure, agency, socialization, norms, roles or social institutions). 
  2. Students will be able to describe and compare major concepts and theories developed by classical and contemporary social theorists and use them to analyze social phenomena.
  3. Students will gain mastery of applied statistics including simple description, the logic of statistical inference, hypothesis testing and methods for addressing research questions of conceptual and practical interest to social scientists. Relatedly, students will learn to critically evaluate the quality of statistical evidence produced by social scientists as featured in research articles, media accounts or reports written for audiences of policymakers and educated generalists (i.e., those who are not professional researchers).
  4.  Students will demonstrate the ability to construct a research project designed to answer a sociological question of interest. Students will demonstrate ability to (a) move from theory and concepts to strategies of measurement; (b) attend to validity and reliability; (c) assess the appropriateness of different data types (e.g., experimental, survey, interview, ethnographic); (d) incorporate research methods frequently used by social scientists; (e) propose an appropriate research design for testing theory-based hypotheses, or interpreting and exploring social phenomena; and (f) apply the logic of causal inference (including acknowledging when such inference is unjustified).
  5. Students will complete said research projects for their junior independent work and later their senior thesis. These works will incorporate knowledge they have gained from coursework on sociological theory, statistics, research design and methods, and substantive areas of the discipline. Students will identify interesting research questions and/or theory-based hypotheses, utilize appropriate data collection and analysis methods, interpret empirical patterns, write research reports and make effective presentations.

 

Prerequisites

Students are normally encouraged to complete one or more courses in sociology by the end of sophomore year. Sociology 101 is highly recommended, though some majors take it after they have enrolled in the department.

Program of Study

Students are required to take a minimum of nine courses in sociology, including an upper limit of two cognate courses in other departments which must receive approval from sociology in order to count toward the required nine. A "cognate" course is a Princeton class offered by another department that has substantial sociological content. All departmental courses or approved cognates that count toward the required nine must be taken for a grade and cannot be taken pass/D/fail. SOC 101, SOC 300, SOC 301, and SOC 302 are requirements for the major. Collectively they are designed to help students carry out their junior and senior independent work. These courses expose students to the nature of sociological problems and theory, the logic of inquiry, the techniques of empirical investigation and the elements of statistics. SOC 300 and SOC 301 are usually taken in the fall of junior year and are offered at that time to facilitate students who wish to study abroad in the spring. SOC 302 is normally offered in the spring.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. Juniors begin their independent work in the fall of their junior year, but the work is due near the end of the spring semester.

The junior paper is written with SOC 300 and SOC 301 providing the basic research tools to formulate the project. Junior papers require students to conduct limited data analysis, whether of primary data (generated by students themselves) or secondary data (derived from existing data sources). In some cases, the junior paper becomes the foundation for the student's senior thesis. All junior papers are graded by a second reader, in addition to the major adviser.

Senior Independent Work. Senior independent work consists of completing a thesis that (a) explores the various theoretical approaches that have been used to explain a particular social phenomenon and (b) examines that phenomenon through extensive analysis of data, whether primary (generated by students themselves) or secondary (derived from existing data sources). Students whose thesis topics require advanced quantitative skills may acquire the necessary competence by enrolling in suitable statistics courses.

Students who are contemplating collecting their own data (for either the junior paper or senior thesis) will need the prior approval of the University's Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects.

Senior Departmental Examination

Each senior takes an oral examination based on the senior thesis and the broader subfield to which it contributes. A departmental committee conducts this examination in May.

Study Abroad

Sociology welcomes students with international interests who wish to study abroad for one or two semesters. The department makes every effort to accommodate these students by coordinating special arrangements for advising on independent work and by permitting them to take required courses out of sequence, either before or after the period of study overseas. Normally, two courses taken during a semester or a year abroad count as departmentals. Such courses will need preapproval from the director of undergraduate studies.

Undergraduate Departmental Committee. At the beginning of every year, an Undergraduate Student Advisory Committee is selected. This committee, consisting of equal numbers of junior and senior majors, advises the department on matters pertaining to curriculum, staffing and requirements.

Research Facilities. The Social Science Reference Center, the Data and Statistical Services unit and the Stokes Library provide facilities for study and research in the form of collections of books, journal articles, reports, microfilm and electronic data. Staff members in these units are available to majors who are completing their independent work, looking for appropriate data sets to analyze, or seeking advice on where to find literature relevant to their research topics.

Faculty

  • Chair

    • Mitchell Duneier
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

    • Timothy J. Nelson
  • Director of Graduate Studies

    • Adam M. Goldstein
  • Professor

    • Miguel A. Centeno
    • Dalton Conley
    • Matthew Desmond
    • Mitchell Duneier
    • Kathryn J. Edin
    • Patricia Fernández-Kelly
    • Filiz Garip
    • Tod G. Hamilton
    • Jennifer L. Jennings
    • Shamus R. Khan
    • Sara McLanahan
    • Sanyu A. Mojola
    • James M. Raymo
    • Matthew J. Salganik
    • Kim Lane Scheppele
    • Patrick T. Sharkey
    • Paul E. Starr
    • Zeynep Tufekci
    • Frederick F Wherry
    • Yu Xie
    • Viviana A. Zelizer
  • Associate Professor

    • Elizabeth M. Armstrong
    • Adam M. Goldstein
    • Brandon M. Stewart
    • Janet A. Vertesi
  • Assistant Professor

    • Benjamin H. Bradlow
    • Arun Hendi
    • John N. Robinson
    • Sam Trejo
    • Kristopher Velasco
  • Associated Faculty

    • Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Near Eastern Studies
  • Lecturer

    • Kyle Chan
    • Tessa J. Desmond
    • Helen Gu
  • Visiting Professor

    • Craig Calhoun
    • Lynn Chancer
  • Visiting Lecturer with Rank of Professor

    • Alondra Nelson

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Courses

SOC 101 - Introduction to Sociology Fall SA

Orientation to the systematic study of human groups, institutions, and social interactions. Introduction to theories and research methods used in sociological investigations, and applied to a wide variety of topics, including family, education, work and religion, as well as dynamics of class, gender, race and ethnic inequalities. Two lectures, one preceptorial. T. Nelson

SOC 201 - American Society and Politics (also SPI 339) Not offered this year SA

An introduction to changing patterns of family structure, community life, economic relations, voluntary associations, moral beliefs and values, social and political movements, and other aspects of civil society and politics in the United States. Two lectures, one preceptorial. P. Starr

SOC 203 - Introduction to Urban Studies (also ARC 207/SPI 201/URB 201) Spring SA

SOC 210 - Urban Sociology: The City and Social Change in the Americas (also LAO 210/LAS 210/URB 210) Fall SA

By taking a comparative approach, this course examines the role of social, economic, and political factors in the emergence and transformation of modern cities in the United States and selected areas of Latin America. The class considers the city in its dual image: both as a center of progress and as a redoubt of social problems, especially poverty. Special attention is given to spatial processes that have resulted in the aggregation and desegregation of populations differentiated by social class and race. Two lectures, one preceptorial. P. Fernández-Kelly

SOC 211 - Sociology of Religion Spring SA

Classical and contemporary theories of the relations between religion and society, with emphasis on the dynamics of religious traditions in modern societies: secularization, religion and political legitimation, sources of individual meaning and transcendence, rituals and moral obligations, religious movements, and contemporary trends in American religion. Two lectures, one preceptorial. T. Nelson

SOC 214 - Creativity, Innovation, and Society Not offered this year SA

An exploration of how creative activities are shaped by larger social configurations. The course first decodes the culture of creativity by examining how society thinks about creativity (and its opposite). How do the varying cultural meanings related to creativity reflect social change? Then it examines the social processes and consequences of innovation from a sociological point of view. Under what social conditions does innovation emerge? How do innovations reshape society and culture? Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 221 - Inequality: Class, Race, and Gender (also AAS 221/GSS 221) Not offered this year SA

Inequalities in property, power, and prestige examined for their effects on life chances and lifestyles. Primary focus on socioeconomic classes in modern societies. Special attention to the role of religious, racial, and ethnic factors. Comparisons of different systems of stratification in the world today. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 222 - The Sociology of Crime and Punishment SA

This course seeks to provide a sociological account of crime and punishment. Why do people commit crime? How should we respond to crime? How has crime policy changed over the past several decades? What are the consequences of recent crime policy? Through classic and contemporary sociological research, policy analysis, and media coverage, the themes of crime and punishment in contemporary society are explored. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 225 - Sex, Sexuality, and Gender (also GSS 225) Not offered this year SA

This course focuses on the many ways gender differences are created, diminished, and reinforced in society. Students will learn how sexuality and gender categories are socially constructed concepts that vary across the life course (childhood, adolescence, adulthood) and different social settings (media and public discourse, schools, work, family, other countries, the policy arena, and the scientific academy). A variety of theoretical perspectives will be examined including sociobiological, micro- and social-psychological, and social-structural. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 227 - Race and Ethnicity (also URB 227) SA

An introduction to the sociological study of race and ethnicity which begins by encouraging students to exercise some critical distance from the core concepts of race and ethnicity. Topics will include comparative racism, immigration, the experiences of the second generation, whiteness, the culture of poverty debate, slums and ghettos, and the debate over the "underclass." Two lectures, one preceptorial. P. Fernández-Kelly

SOC 240 - Families Not offered this year SA

Three main questions will be considered: (1) How "natural" is the family institution? (2) How essential is it? and (3) How well is it working in current American society? Comparative perspective on the analysis of childhood and society, marriage and divorce, and main contemporary trends. Proposed alternatives to the family and future developments. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 248 - Modern Mexican Society (also LAS 248) Not offered this year SA

An introduction to the social, political, and economic organization of modern Mexico. The course traces the evolution of Mexico's fundamental institutions from their birth after the Mexican Revolution of 1910, through their flowering during the 1950s and 1960s, to changes in the neoliberal era of the 1980s and 1990s. The course ends with a consideration of Mexico's current position as a partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Two lectures, one preceptorial. D. Massey

SOC 250 - The Western Way of War Spring HA

A historical and analytical overview of war focusing on the origins and consequences of organized violence, the experience of battle, the creation and behavior of warriors, and the future of such conflicts. Two lectures, one preceptorial. M. Centeno

SOC 300 - Claims and Evidence in Sociology Fall SA

This mandatory course for concentrators is intended to provide the groundwork for understanding sociological arguments, evidence, research, and writing. It provides students with the opportunity to try their hand at interpreting and evaluating arguments in the sociological literature and constructing their own arguments for a sociological study. Two lectures, one preceptorial. J. Raymo, J. Vertesi

SOC 301 - Statistical Methods in Sociology Fall QCR

An overview of the research process in social science, including techniques of sampling, methods of data collection, principles of measurement, problems of inference and proof, basic methods of data analysis, and ethical considerations. Two lectures, one preceptorial. T. Hamilton

SOC 302 - Sociological Theory (also CHV 302) Spring SA

Systematic survey of the principal concepts underlying all sociological description and explanation-prediction, with special attention to the different ways these concepts are employed in the four currently leading groups of theories, namely, structural functionalism, exchange theory, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Two lectures, one preceptorial. J. Vertesi

SOC 305 - Introduction to Quantitative Social Science (also POL 345/SPI 211) Fall QCR

SOC 308 - Communism and Beyond: China and Russia (also EAS 308/RES 308) Spring SA

A review of the stages of communism, including reform and dismantling. Comparisons of social classes and ethnic groups under the old system and their readiness for recent changes. Treatment of workers, farmers, intellectuals, officials, and new entrepreneurs. Comparative approach to China, Russia, and other countries formed from the Soviet Union. Two ninety-minute classes. D. Kaple

SOC 309 - Topics in the Sociology of Latin America (also LAS 309) Not offered this year SA

A study of selected topics of current interest in the sociology of Latin America. The specific subject matter will vary from year to year, reflecting the changing interests of both faculty and students. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 310 - Gender and Development in the Americas (also GSS 312/LAS 310) Not offered this year SA

An examination of gender as an integral component of socioeconomic development in advanced and less-developed countries, with a focus on the United States and selected areas of Latin America. Special attention will be given to processes of industrial restructuring on a global scale that have increased the participation of women in the formal labor force. An understanding of the relationship between gender inequality and social order will be a central object of inquiry. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 312 - Race and Public Policy (also AAS 317/POL 343/SPI 331) Not offered this year SA

SOC 319 - Media and Public Policy (also SPI 334) Not offered this year SA

SOC 325 - Latino Politics in the U.S. (also LAO 333/LAS 333/POL 333) Not offered this year SA

SOC 328 - Population, Society and Public Policy (also SPI 330) Not offered this year SA

SOC 330 - Ethnographic Methods for Senior Thesis Research Not offered this year SA

Students will be introduced to the practice of doing ethnographic fieldwork in the local community and to the reflective process of writing ethnography. Students will select a local field site within reach of their daily lives, engage in fieldwork and participant observation, write field notes, experiment with interpreting their data and discover their research question. In the readings and in class discussions we will talk about social explanation and interpretation, and focus on field notes and the process of writing ethnography. Field notes will be turned in weekly. A final paper based on field research is due at the end of the semester. Staff

SOC 338 - The Sociology of Latinos in the U.S. (also LAS 338) Not offered this year SA

Using detailed studies of four major centers (San Antonio, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York), this course will analyze the historical and contemporary experience of several Spanish-speaking populations. Discussion will focus on two questions: (a) Are there common experiences or characteristics that justify the categorization of these varied groups under a single ethnicity? and (b) What racial, class, and gender divisions exist within these groups? Two lectures, one preceptorial. M. Tienda

SOC 340 - God of Many Faces: Comparative Perspectives on Migration and Religion (also REL 390) Not offered this year SA

By using examples from the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, this course employs a comparative approach to investigating religion as a source of strength among immigrants -- including exiles and refugees -- as they undertake perilous journeys. Key questions addressed include: How does religion transform (and how is it transformed by) the immigrant experience? How is religion used to combat stereotypes? Are there differences between the ways men and women or dominant groups and racial minorities understand religion? Two lectures, one preceptorial. P. Fernández-Kelly

SOC 341 - Latinos in American Life and Culture (also LAO 200/LAS 336) Not offered this year SA

SOC 342 - Organizations: Management, Bureaucracy, and Work Not offered this year SA

Classical and contemporary theories of organizations as collective tools, as cultural systems, and as actors in changing environments. Research on problems of innovation and survival, authority, and control in business firms, public bureaucracies, and voluntary associations. Special emphasis on the historical development of managerial ideologies in the U.S. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 344 - Communications, Culture, and Society Not offered this year SA

An introduction to the study of communications media. Topics include: growth and impact of literacy, printing, telecommunications, and broadcasting; communications and the modern state (for example, secrecy, surveillance, intelligence); organization, control, and effects of the media; cross-national differences in communications policy and institutions; impact of computers and electronic communication. Two lectures, one preceptorial. P. Starr

SOC 345 - Money, Work, and Social Life Not offered this year SA

The course offers a sociological account of production, consumption, distribution, and transfer of assets. Examining different sectors of the economy from corporations and finance to households, immigrants, welfare, and illegal markets, we explore how in all areas of economic life people are creating, maintaining, symbolizing, and transforming meaningful social relations. Economic life, from this perspective, is as social as religion, family, or education. Two lectures, one preceptorial. F. Wherry

SOC 353 - Information Technology and Public Policy (also COS 351/SPI 351) Not offered this year SA

SOC 361 - Culture, Power, and Inequality (also GSS 361) Not offered this year SA

An introduction to theories of symbolism, ideology, and belief. Approaches to the analysis and comparison of cultural patterns. Emphasis on the social sources of new idea systems, the role of ideology in social movements, and the social effects of cultural change. Comparisons of competing idea systems in contemporary culture. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 363 - Religion in the United States Not offered this year SA

Sociological investigations of religion in the United States since 1950. Patterns and variations in religious organization and expression. Social scientific methods of conducting research on religion, including surveys, interviews, and participant observation. Topics include demographics of religious involvement, trends, individual religious orientations, ethnicity and religion, and religious diversity. Two lectures, one preceptorial. R. Wuthnow

SOC 364 - Sociology of Medicine (also CHV 364) Not offered this year SA

This course uses "the sociological imagination" to explore the role and meaning of medicine in modern U.S. society. Topics include sociocultural definitions of health and illness, the sick role, the doctor-patient relationship, the social determinants of health, the role of medicine in keeping society healthy, the education and socialization of health care professionals, and the social control function of medicine. Consideration of current bioethical dilemmas from a sociological perspective. Two lectures, one preceptorial. E. Armstrong

SOC 365 - Health, Society, and Politics Not offered this year SA

Introduction to the sociology, history, and politics of health care. Topics include the social response to disease (including epidemics); the development and organization of the medical profession, hospitals, public health, and health insurance; and the contemporary politics of health policy in comparative perspective. Two lectures, one preceptorial. P. Starr

SOC 368 - Special Topics in Sociology Not offered this year CDSA

The subject matter of this course varies from year to year. Typical topics are sociology of the environment and sociology of law. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

SOC 400 - Applied Social Statistics Fall QCR

An introduction to basic concepts in probability and statistics with applications to social science research. We cover descriptive statistics, sampling distributions, statistical inference (including point estimation, confidence intervals and tests of hypotheses), the comparison of two or more groups, linear regression, and designs for causal inference. Throughout the course we use the open-source statistical package R to illustrate and apply the techniques. The course is intended to prepare students to take Advanced Social Statistics the following term. B. Stewart

SOC 481 - Special Topics in Institutions and Networks (also SPI 481/URB 481) Spring SA