Areas of Research Expertise

Our faculty and graduate students conduct ground-breaking research in several impactful areas of sociology. The specialty areas listed below provide a broad outline of our researchers’ interests which intersect and span multiple areas and subfields. Our graduate students are also very active in the research program of the department, many of them publishing peer reviewed articles throughout their graduate career. Read about the graduate student publications and accolades in the Student Research section of the Department News page.

Core Areas of Expertise 

For Core Areas, comprehensive exams are offered each year.

Additional Areas of Expertise

For Additional Areas, students must request a comprehensive exam sitting from the Graduate Office. It may or may not be possible to strike a committee when requested.

Colonialism, Racialization, Indigeneity

Faculty and graduate students in this area study how social processes associated with racism and colonialism work to divide people into categories of difference, and to create and reproduce power structures and inequalities around these categories. We are also interested in studying the social processes by which some people organize to resist or counteract racism, colonialism, and their oppressive consequences. Faculty working in Colonialism, Racialization, Indigeneity:


Computational and Quantitative Methods

Sociologists use a variety of computational and statistical methods to study social phenomena, including trends and patterns in social behavior, the relationship between social variables, and the impact of social policies and interventions. The goal of these methods is to provide rigorous and reproducible analyses of social data, and to use these analyses to better understand the social world and inform policy decisions. As the availability and accessibility of large-scale social data sets has increased, sociologists have begun to use new computational methods, including those used in machine learning and natural language processing, to study these data and gain insights into social phenomena. Faculty working in Computational and Quantitative Methods:


Sociology of Crime and Law

All societies seek to maintain a sense of social order. Researchers in the Sociology of Crime and Law study determinants of criminal and deviant behaviour in diverse settings. They also examine the social bases and influences on the legal field. Faculty working in Sociology of Crime and Law:


Sociology of Culture

Social interactions and identity formation often coalesce around cultural consumption and symbols of status. Researchers in the Sociology of Culture examine material products, ideas, and symbols and their relationship to social behaviour. Faculty working in Sociology of Culture:


Environmental Sociology

Human societies are dependent on and interconnected with the environment they live in. Researchers in this area study the challenges of the integration of humans and nature, human interference with the environment, and the relationship between societies and their natural surroundings. Faculty working in Environmental Sociology:


Sociology of Family

Families are one of the foundational institutions of society, and much of human socialization is informed by family dynamics. Researchers in this area examine the family as a structure that informs all further social life, as well as the processes that affect kinship ties, such as marriage, divorce, and childrearing. Faculty working in Sociology of Family:


Sociology of Gender

Ideologies about gender and the role of the family structure form some of the basic building blocks of society. Researchers examine the construction of gender roles, the intersectional links between gender, status, and inequality, and the gendered structure and functioning of family life. Faculty working in Sociology of Gender:


Global Migration

The field of global migration studies the structural dynamics and social processes that shape migration across international borders and the social, political, and economic dynamics that contour the positions of (im)migrants in the receiving society. Core topics include forced labor migration, the politics of non/citizenship and of (im)migrant integration, the making of refugees and the ways gender and sexuality shape, and are shaped by, migration. Faculty working in Global Migration:


Health & Mental Health

Social organizations and social processes have a profound effect on health. Sociologists of health and mental health consider structural, social psychological, stress process, labeling, macro-comparative, and institutional approaches, and study both health outcomes and health providers. Faculty working in Health & Mental Health:


Life Course and Aging

Life Course and Aging is a subfield concerned with the various social, psychological, and physical changes that individuals experience as they grow older, and how these changes affect their lives and the societies in which they live. Researchers in this subfield study a wide range of topics related to aging and the life course, including health and wellness, social and economic inequality, family and social relationships, and the impact of social policies on older individuals. By examining these issues, scholars in this subfield seek to gain a better understanding of the aging process and its impact on individuals and societies, as well as to inform policies and practices that can promote healthy and fulfilling lives for individuals of all ages. Faculty working in Life Course and Aging:


Political Sociology

Political phenomena have social underpinnings. Scholars in this area draw on sociological theories and methods to ex-plain political protest and advocacy, state formation and governance, and policy development and implementation. Faculty working in Political Sociology:


Qualitative Methods

The quality of research results relies on flawless research tools and techniques. Scholars in qualitative methods use a variety of methods such as interviewing, textual analysis and ethnography. They develop innovative strategies to overcome difficulties in working with participants, obtaining data, and analyzing data to produce valid results. Faculty working in Qualitative Methods:


Social Networks

The ways in which people interact with each other affects their health, social position and how they see their place in society. This area measures the ties between individuals to understand such dimensions of society as communication patterns, occupational success, and collective action. Faculty working in the Sociology of Social Networks:


Social Policy

Social Policy is concerned with the ways that nations respond to challenges in their societies through reformative policies. Researchers in this area focus on the impacts of globalization on societies, including demographics, economy, migration, poverty, and health. 

Faculty working in Social Policy:



Sociological theory seeks to develop an understanding of social phenomena. It builds on the works of theorists who have been observing and analyzing the social world since the nineteenth century. Faculty working in Sociological Theory:


Urban Sociology

Urban sociology studies how urban areas develop, and the way people live in urban areas.  Urban sociologists use statistical analysis, observation or ethnography, social theory, interviews, and other methods to study topics such as migration, economic and demographic change, ethnic relations, crime, policing, segregation, housing, and many other phenomena in urbanized areas. Faculty working in Urban Sociology:


Work, Stratification and Markets

Social inequalities come in many forms and derive from structural and individual factors. Researchers in this area study the impact of income disparity, patterns of inequality and status in the workplace, and the intersection of economics and social systems. Faculty working in Work, Stratification and Markets:


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