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Writing Guide

Writing sociological topics.

“Sociology is the scientific study of human social life. Sociologists seek to describe social patterns and to develop theories for explanation and prediction of social processes of all sizes. Sociology applies objective and systematic methods of investigation to identify patterns and forms of social life and to understand the processes of development and change in human societies.”

Sociology can be described as the scientific study of society.

Sociologists follow the scientific method in research and translate that research into language that is applicable to diverse audiences.

Even if you don’t plan on becoming a sociologist, learning to communicate in the writing and oral styles that are specific to sociology can be useful in many professions. Even though sociological writing is presenting research about the social world, which we all live in and experience that does not mean that the sociological style of writing will come naturally.

Whether you’re writing a “low-stakes” summary of assigned readings, or a “high-stakes” research proposal, there are stylistic rules specific to sociology that need to be followed. This writing guide aims to help students in sociology courses understand these guidelines and improve their sociological writing.

Departmental Expectations

  • Enable students to understand the interactions among individuals, groups, and social institutions in society.
  • Develop student competence in understanding, critically assessing, and applying major sociological concepts.
  • Introduce students to the various theoretical perspectives of sociology.
  • Develop student understanding of research methods appropriate to sociological inquiry.
  • Develop student competence in posing research questions, evaluating evidence, and developing logical arguments.

Disciplinary Genres

Writing in sociology can be either argumentative or analytical. Too often, students in sociology try to find the “right” answer, rather than taking a stance on the literature.

There are various writing genres within sociology. These genres include, but are not limited to: social issue analyses, article critiques, literature reviews, quantitative research designs, quantitative research papers, qualitative research designs, and qualitative research papers. Common types of writing in sociology classes at UNC Charlotte include summaries of readings, topic essays, literature reviews, methodological designs, and research proposals.

For these writing assignments, you will be asked to analyze and critique previous research or make an argument for proposed research, or both. While the exact style of writing will vary by assignment, and by professor, the writing norms of sociology will always apply.

Writing and Speaking Norms in Sociology

The learning objectives for sociology courses can be reached through communicating in a way that is appropriate to the field of Sociology. As a student in Sociology, you will regularly engage in various types of writing.

As is the case in other academic disciplines, sociologists have developed a style of writing that is most appropriate. The American Sociological Association style guide presents the fundamentals of sociological writing.

Following these guidelines, writing in sociology should be:

  • Clear in expression, with respect to ideas and structure
  • Concise and coherent, avoiding wordy phrases
  • Absent of language reflecting bias or stereotypes
  • Using an active voice
  • Use verb tense that is consistent within a section
  • Proper citations, using American Sociological Association (ASA) guidelines

Examples of Common Assignments

The sociology department, as well as all departments at UNC Charlotte, incorporates low-stakes, medium-stakes, and high-stakes writing into the curriculum. It is not uncommon for sociology courses to assign written work from all of these levels.

Low-stakes assignments serve as a means for input: exploration, discovery, hypothesizing, problem-solving, and so on. Think of these assignments as “writing to learn”. Below are some examples of low-stakes assignments commonly used in sociology courses.

  • Brief in-class writing assignments on course topics.
  • Summaries of assigned readings.
  • Creating a hypothesis.
  • Brief, or list-like, writings about a topic.

Medium Stakes

Medium-stakes assignments focus on certain thinking processes within the discipline. These assignments are still primarily informal but require more guidelines for format, structure, and style that are appropriate to sociology . These assignments are typically done in one sitting and do not require extensive revision. Below are some examples of medium-stakes assignments commonly used in sociology courses.

  • Response papers on lecture or other course materials that incorporate sociological perspectives.
  • Wiki contributions, blog posts, discussion board posts.
  • Reflection papers on personal experiences.
  • Analyses of current issues or events.

High Stakes

High-stakes assignments are easily recognizable. These assignments incorporate analysis, argumentation, or both to a broad range of concepts or readings. High-stakes writing assignments are subject to several revisions and follow more closely the style guidelines of sociology. Below are some common high-stakes writing assignments in sociology:

  • Research proposal or research report.
  • Written report on qualitative or quantitative research done by the student.
  • Final papers that integrate the entirety of course topics.

Here’s an example of a high-stakes research proposal with instructor comments.

Writing Outcomes

Listed at the bottom of this page in the attachments section is an example of a survey research paper done by a UNC Charlotte student as well as the rubric the instructor utilized for grading purposes.

Below are several tools and tips to help you communicate effectively in sociology.

General Advice for Non-Majors will help students not familiar with writing in sociology.

ASA Style Guide will provide examples of the writing and speaking norms in sociology, as well as show how to properly cite resources.

This Reading Guide will help students learn how to approach sociological literature.

The Writing Resource Center at UNC Charlotte provides writing services to students.

Citation Guide will help you make sure that all of your resources are properly cited.

List of ASA (American Sociological Association) Writing Style Guides

The University Center for Academic Excellence (UCAE) provides academic support for UNC Charlotte students.

The Dr. Abel Scribe citation tool is another useful guide for learning about the ASA’s formatting rules as well as its citation guidelines.

Endnote – Citation software program available to UNC Charlotte students.

Marquette University’s Writing Guide for Social Science Majors

University of California, Berkeley’s Writing Guide for Sociology Majors

These sections adapted from:

American Sociological Association. 2010. American Sociological Association Style Guide. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.

Bean, John C. 2001. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Darmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric “General Advice for Non-Majors” accessed 2013.

Harris, Angelique and Alia R. Tyner-Mullings. 2013. Writing for Emerging Sociologists. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications

Johnson, William A. et al. 2004. The Sociology Student Writer’s Manual. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall

UNC Charlotte Department of Sociology “Home” section accessed 2013.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout introduces you to the wonderful world of writing sociology. Before you can write a clear and coherent sociology paper, you need a firm understanding of the assumptions and expectations of the discipline. You need to know your audience, the way they view the world and how they order and evaluate information. So, without further ado, let’s figure out just what sociology is, and how one goes about writing it.

What is sociology, and what do sociologists write about?

Unlike many of the other subjects here at UNC, such as history or English, sociology is a new subject for many students. Therefore, it may be helpful to give a quick introduction to what sociologists do. Sociologists are interested in all sorts of topics. For example, some sociologists focus on the family, addressing issues such as marriage, divorce, child-rearing, and domestic abuse, the ways these things are defined in different cultures and times, and their effect on both individuals and institutions. Others examine larger social organizations such as businesses and governments, looking at their structure and hierarchies. Still others focus on social movements and political protest, such as the American civil rights movement. Finally, sociologists may look at divisions and inequality within society, examining phenomena such as race, gender, and class, and their effect on people’s choices and opportunities. As you can see, sociologists study just about everything. Thus, it is not the subject matter that makes a paper sociological, but rather the perspective used in writing it.

So, just what is a sociological perspective? At its most basic, sociology is an attempt to understand and explain the way that individuals and groups interact within a society. How exactly does one approach this goal? C. Wright Mills, in his book The Sociological Imagination (1959), writes that “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” Why? Well, as Karl Marx observes at the beginning of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), humans “make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.” Thus, a good sociological argument needs to balance both individual agency and structural constraints. That is certainly a tall order, but it is the basis of all effective sociological writing. Keep it in mind as you think about your own writing.

Key assumptions and characteristics of sociological writing

What are the most important things to keep in mind as you write in sociology? Pay special attention to the following issues.

The first thing to remember in writing a sociological argument is to be as clear as possible in stating your thesis. Of course, that is true in all papers, but there are a couple of pitfalls common to sociology that you should be aware of and avoid at all cost. As previously defined, sociology is the study of the interaction between individuals and larger social forces. Different traditions within sociology tend to favor one side of the equation over the other, with some focusing on the agency of individual actors and others on structural factors. The danger is that you may go too far in either of these directions and thus lose the complexity of sociological thinking. Although this mistake can manifest itself in any number of ways, three types of flawed arguments are particularly common: 

  • The “ individual argument ” generally takes this form: “The individual is free to make choices, and any outcomes can be explained exclusively through the study of his or her ideas and decisions.” While it is of course true that we all make our own choices, we must also keep in mind that, to paraphrase Marx, we make these choices under circumstances given to us by the structures of society. Therefore, it is important to investigate what conditions made these choices possible in the first place, as well as what allows some individuals to successfully act on their choices while others cannot.
  • The “ human nature argument ” seeks to explain social behavior through a quasi-biological argument about humans, and often takes a form such as: “Humans are by nature X, therefore it is not surprising that Y.” While sociologists disagree over whether a universal human nature even exists, they all agree that it is not an acceptable basis of explanation. Instead, sociology demands that you question why we call some behavior natural, and to look into the social factors which have constructed this “natural” state.
  • The “ society argument ” often arises in response to critiques of the above styles of argumentation, and tends to appear in a form such as: “Society made me do it.” Students often think that this is a good sociological argument, since it uses society as the basis for explanation. However, the problem is that the use of the broad concept “society” masks the real workings of the situation, making it next to impossible to build a strong case. This is an example of reification, which is when we turn processes into things. Society is really a process, made up of ongoing interactions at multiple levels of size and complexity, and to turn it into a monolithic thing is to lose all that complexity. People make decisions and choices. Some groups and individuals benefit, while others do not. Identifying these intermediate levels is the basis of sociological analysis.

Although each of these three arguments seems quite different, they all share one common feature: they assume exactly what they need to be explaining. They are excellent starting points, but lousy conclusions.

Once you have developed a working argument, you will next need to find evidence to support your claim. What counts as evidence in a sociology paper? First and foremost, sociology is an empirical discipline. Empiricism in sociology means basing your conclusions on evidence that is documented and collected with as much rigor as possible. This evidence usually draws upon observed patterns and information from collected cases and experiences, not just from isolated, anecdotal reports. Just because your second cousin was able to climb the ladder from poverty to the executive boardroom does not prove that the American class system is open. You will need more systematic evidence to make your claim convincing. Above all else, remember that your opinion alone is not sufficient support for a sociological argument. Even if you are making a theoretical argument, you must be able to point to documented instances of social phenomena that fit your argument. Logic is necessary for making the argument, but is not sufficient support by itself.

Sociological evidence falls into two main groups: 

  • Quantitative data are based on surveys, censuses, and statistics. These provide large numbers of data points, which is particularly useful for studying large-scale social processes, such as income inequality, population changes, changes in social attitudes, etc.
  • Qualitative data, on the other hand, comes from participant observation, in-depth interviews, data and texts, as well as from the researcher’s own impressions and reactions. Qualitative research gives insight into the way people actively construct and find meaning in their world.

Quantitative data produces a measurement of subjects’ characteristics and behavior, while qualitative research generates information on their meanings and practices. Thus, the methods you choose will reflect the type of evidence most appropriate to the questions you ask. If you wanted to look at the importance of race in an organization, a quantitative study might use information on the percentage of different races in the organization, what positions they hold, as well as survey results on people’s attitudes on race. This would measure the distribution of race and racial beliefs in the organization. A qualitative study would go about this differently, perhaps hanging around the office studying people’s interactions, or doing in-depth interviews with some of the subjects. The qualitative researcher would see how people act out their beliefs, and how these beliefs interact with the beliefs of others as well as the constraints of the organization.

Some sociologists favor qualitative over quantitative data, or vice versa, and it is perfectly reasonable to rely on only one method in your own work. However, since each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, combining methods can be a particularly effective way to bolster your argument. But these distinctions are not just important if you have to collect your own data for your paper. You also need to be aware of them even when you are relying on secondary sources for your research. In order to critically evaluate the research and data you are reading, you should have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the different methods.

Units of analysis

Given that social life is so complex, you need to have a point of entry into studying this world. In sociological jargon, you need a unit of analysis. The unit of analysis is exactly that: it is the unit that you have chosen to analyze in your study. Again, this is only a question of emphasis and focus, and not of precedence and importance. You will find a variety of units of analysis in sociological writing, ranging from the individual up to groups or organizations. You should choose yours based on the interests and theoretical assumptions driving your research. The unit of analysis will determine much of what will qualify as relevant evidence in your work. Thus you must not only clearly identify that unit, but also consistently use it throughout your paper.

Let’s look at an example to see just how changing the units of analysis will change the face of research. What if you wanted to study globalization? That’s a big topic, so you will need to focus your attention. Where would you start?

You might focus on individual human actors, studying the way that people are affected by the globalizing world. This approach could possibly include a study of Asian sweatshop workers’ experiences, or perhaps how consumers’ decisions shape the overall system.

Or you might choose to focus on social structures or organizations. This approach might involve looking at the decisions being made at the national or international level, such as the free-trade agreements that change the relationships between governments and corporations. Or you might look into the organizational structures of corporations and measure how they are changing under globalization. Another structural approach would be to focus on the social networks linking subjects together. That could lead you to look at how migrants rely on social contacts to make their way to other countries, as well as to help them find work upon their arrival.

Finally, you might want to focus on cultural objects or social artifacts as your unit of analysis. One fine example would be to look at the production of those tennis shoes the kids seem to like so much. You could look at either the material production of the shoe (tracing it from its sweatshop origins to its arrival on the showroom floor of malls across America) or its cultural production (attempting to understand how advertising and celebrities have turned such shoes into necessities and cultural icons).

Whichever unit of analysis you choose, be careful not to commit the dreaded ecological fallacy. An ecological fallacy is when you assume that something that you learned about the group level of analysis also applies to the individuals that make up that group. So, to continue the globalization example, if you were to compare its effects on the poorest 20% and the richest 20% of countries, you would need to be careful not to apply your results to the poorest and richest individuals.

These are just general examples of how sociological study of a single topic can vary. Because you can approach a subject from several different perspectives, it is important to decide early how you plan to focus your analysis and then stick with that perspective throughout your paper. Avoid mixing units of analysis without strong justification. Different units of analysis generally demand different kinds of evidence for building your argument. You can reconcile the varying levels of analysis, but doing so may require a complex, sophisticated theory, no small feat within the confines of a short paper. Check with your instructor if you are concerned about this happening in your paper

Typical writing assignments in sociology

So how does all of this apply to an actual writing assignment? Undergraduate writing assignments in sociology may take a number of forms, but they typically involve reviewing sociological literature on a subject; applying or testing a particular concept, theory, or perspective; or producing a small-scale research report, which usually involves a synthesis of both the literature review and application.

The critical review

The review involves investigating the research that has been done on a particular topic and then summarizing and evaluating what you have found. The important task in this kind of assignment is to organize your material clearly and synthesize it for your reader. A good review does not just summarize the literature, but looks for patterns and connections in the literature and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of what others have written on your topic. You want to help your reader see how the information you have gathered fits together, what information can be most trusted (and why), what implications you can derive from it, and what further research may need to be done to fill in gaps. Doing so requires considerable thought and organization on your part, as well as thinking of yourself as an expert on the topic. You need to assume that, even though you are new to the material, you can judge the merits of the arguments you have read and offer an informed opinion of which evidence is strongest and why.

Application or testing of a theory or concept

The application assignment asks you to apply a concept or theoretical perspective to a specific example. In other words, it tests your practical understanding of theories and ideas by asking you to explain how well they apply to actual social phenomena. In order to successfully apply a theory to a new case, you must include the following steps:

  • First you need to have a very clear understanding of the theory itself: not only what the theorist argues, but also why he or she argues that point, and how he or she justifies it. That is, you have to understand how the world works according to this theory and how one thing leads to another.
  • Next you should choose an appropriate case study. This is a crucial step, one that can make or break your paper. If you choose a case that is too similar to the one used in constructing the theory in the first place, then your paper will be uninteresting as an application, since it will not give you the opportunity to show off your theoretical brilliance. On the other hand, do not choose a case that is so far out in left field that the applicability is only superficial and trivial. In some ways theory application is like making an analogy. The last thing you want is a weak analogy, or one that is so obvious that it does not give any added insight. Instead, you will want to choose a happy medium, one that is not obvious but that allows you to give a developed analysis of the case using the theory you chose.
  • This leads to the last point, which is the analysis. A strong analysis will go beyond the surface and explore the processes at work, both in the theory and in the case you have chosen. Just like making an analogy, you are arguing that these two things (the theory and the example) are similar. Be specific and detailed in telling the reader how they are similar. In the course of looking for similarities, however, you are likely to find points at which the theory does not seem to be a good fit. Do not sweep this discovery under the rug, since the differences can be just as important as the similarities, supplying insight into both the applicability of the theory and the uniqueness of the case you are using.

You may also be asked to test a theory. Whereas the application paper assumes that the theory you are using is true, the testing paper does not makes this assumption, but rather asks you to try out the theory to determine whether it works. Here you need to think about what initial conditions inform the theory and what sort of hypothesis or prediction the theory would make based on those conditions. This is another way of saying that you need to determine which cases the theory could be applied to (see above) and what sort of evidence would be needed to either confirm or disconfirm the theory’s hypothesis. In many ways, this is similar to the application paper, with added emphasis on the veracity of the theory being used.

The research paper

Finally, we reach the mighty research paper. Although the thought of doing a research paper can be intimidating, it is actually little more than the combination of many of the parts of the papers we have already discussed. You will begin with a critical review of the literature and use this review as a basis for forming your research question. The question will often take the form of an application (“These ideas will help us to explain Z.”) or of hypothesis testing (“If these ideas are correct, we should find X when we investigate Y.”). The skills you have already used in writing the other types of papers will help you immensely as you write your research papers.

And so we reach the end of this all-too-brief glimpse into the world of sociological writing. Sociologists can be an idiosyncratic bunch, so paper guidelines and expectations will no doubt vary from class to class, from instructor to instructor. However, these basic guidelines will help you get started.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Cuba, Lee. 2002. A Short Guide to Writing About Social Science , 4th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

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The Sociology Writing Group in their publication A Guide to Writing Sociology Papers (5th Ed.), identify four types of papers based on data sources, as the most typical writing assignments given to undergraduate sociology students:

(1) the textual analysis paper , in which the student is asked to analyze some text such as an essay or book; the text itself provides the data in that the student is asked to explicate the text, not analyze the content.

(2) the ethnographic field research paper , in which the data is generated from observing and interacting with people in their normal social environments.

(3) the quantitative research paper , in which data is collected according to specific techniques of data collection and analysis in order to answer a sociological question.

(4) the general research paper , in which data is collected through library research in order to refine a research question, and to gather information in support of the paper's thesis,

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Writing in Sociology

Writing in Sociology

  • Mark Edwards - Oregon State University, USA
  • Description

With humor and empathy, Mark Edwards’s handbook provides undergraduate and early-career graduate students guidance in sociological writing of all kinds. Writing in Sociology offers unusual approaches to developing ideas into research questions, utilizing research literature, constructing research papers, and completing different kinds of course writing (including case studies, theory papers, and applied social science projects). New chapters in the Second Edition offer insights into giving and receiving effective peer review and presenting qualitative research results. By focusing on how to think about the goals and strategies implicit in each section of a writing project this book provides accessible advice to novice sociological writers.

See what’s new to this edition by selecting the Features tab on this page. Should you need additional information or have questions regarding the HEOA information provided for this title, including what is new to this edition, please email [email protected] . Please include your name, contact information, and the name of the title for which you would like more information. For information on the HEOA, please go to http://ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/index.html .

For assistance with your order: Please email us at [email protected] or connect with your SAGE representative.

SAGE 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 www.sagepub.com


  • A new chapter on giving and receiving peer review helps students to look at writing and research with a critical eye
  • A new chapter on presenting results in a qualitative research paper includes an annotated example of a published article
  • All web links and references from the previous version have been edited and updated to ensure the most current and accurate presentation of materials


  • Presents tools and resources that aid in developing research ideas and incorporating research literature for both qualitative and quantitative papers
  • Offers writing guidance for a range of assignments, including case studies, theory papers, and applied social science projects
  • Provides practical advice on avoiding common undergraduate errors, helping students in their everyday writing
  • Presents the material in a student-friendly tone that is attentive to the emotional and psychological struggles of writing

Sample Materials & Chapters

For instructors, select a purchasing option.

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This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge , the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial .

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • 6. The Methodology
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

The methods section describes actions taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed? The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past tense.

Kallet, Richard H. "How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper." Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004): 1229-1232.

Importance of a Good Methodology Section

You must explain how you obtained and analyzed your results for the following reasons:

  • Readers need to know how the data was obtained because the method you chose affects the results and, by extension, how you interpreted their significance in the discussion section of your paper.
  • Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship because an unreliable method produces unreliable results and, as a consequence, undermines the value of your analysis of the findings.
  • In most cases, there are a variety of different methods you can choose to investigate a research problem. The methodology section of your paper should clearly articulate the reasons why you have chosen a particular procedure or technique.
  • The reader wants to know that the data was collected or generated in a way that is consistent with accepted practice in the field of study. For example, if you are using a multiple choice questionnaire, readers need to know that it offered your respondents a reasonable range of answers to choose from.
  • The method must be appropriate to fulfilling the overall aims of the study. For example, you need to ensure that you have a large enough sample size to be able to generalize and make recommendations based upon the findings.
  • The methodology should discuss the problems that were anticipated and the steps you took to prevent them from occurring. For any problems that do arise, you must describe the ways in which they were minimized or why these problems do not impact in any meaningful way your interpretation of the findings.
  • In the social and behavioral sciences, it is important to always provide sufficient information to allow other researchers to adopt or replicate your methodology. This information is particularly important when a new method has been developed or an innovative use of an existing method is utilized.

Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Psychology Writing Center. University of Washington; Denscombe, Martyn. The Good Research Guide: For Small-Scale Social Research Projects . 5th edition. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 2014; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Groups of Research Methods

There are two main groups of research methods in the social sciences:

  • The e mpirical-analytical group approaches the study of social sciences in a similar manner that researchers study the natural sciences . This type of research focuses on objective knowledge, research questions that can be answered yes or no, and operational definitions of variables to be measured. The empirical-analytical group employs deductive reasoning that uses existing theory as a foundation for formulating hypotheses that need to be tested. This approach is focused on explanation.
  • The i nterpretative group of methods is focused on understanding phenomenon in a comprehensive, holistic way . Interpretive methods focus on analytically disclosing the meaning-making practices of human subjects [the why, how, or by what means people do what they do], while showing how those practices arrange so that it can be used to generate observable outcomes. Interpretive methods allow you to recognize your connection to the phenomena under investigation. However, the interpretative group requires careful examination of variables because it focuses more on subjective knowledge.

II.  Content

The introduction to your methodology section should begin by restating the research problem and underlying assumptions underpinning your study. This is followed by situating the methods you used to gather, analyze, and process information within the overall “tradition” of your field of study and within the particular research design you have chosen to study the problem. If the method you choose lies outside of the tradition of your field [i.e., your review of the literature demonstrates that the method is not commonly used], provide a justification for how your choice of methods specifically addresses the research problem in ways that have not been utilized in prior studies.

The remainder of your methodology section should describe the following:

  • Decisions made in selecting the data you have analyzed or, in the case of qualitative research, the subjects and research setting you have examined,
  • Tools and methods used to identify and collect information, and how you identified relevant variables,
  • The ways in which you processed the data and the procedures you used to analyze that data, and
  • The specific research tools or strategies that you utilized to study the underlying hypothesis and research questions.

In addition, an effectively written methodology section should:

  • Introduce the overall methodological approach for investigating your research problem . Is your study qualitative or quantitative or a combination of both (mixed method)? Are you going to take a special approach, such as action research, or a more neutral stance?
  • Indicate how the approach fits the overall research design . Your methods for gathering data should have a clear connection to your research problem. In other words, make sure that your methods will actually address the problem. One of the most common deficiencies found in research papers is that the proposed methodology is not suitable to achieving the stated objective of your paper.
  • Describe the specific methods of data collection you are going to use , such as, surveys, interviews, questionnaires, observation, archival research. If you are analyzing existing data, such as a data set or archival documents, describe how it was originally created or gathered and by whom. Also be sure to explain how older data is still relevant to investigating the current research problem.
  • Explain how you intend to analyze your results . Will you use statistical analysis? Will you use specific theoretical perspectives to help you analyze a text or explain observed behaviors? Describe how you plan to obtain an accurate assessment of relationships, patterns, trends, distributions, and possible contradictions found in the data.
  • Provide background and a rationale for methodologies that are unfamiliar for your readers . Very often in the social sciences, research problems and the methods for investigating them require more explanation/rationale than widely accepted rules governing the natural and physical sciences. Be clear and concise in your explanation.
  • Provide a justification for subject selection and sampling procedure . For instance, if you propose to conduct interviews, how do you intend to select the sample population? If you are analyzing texts, which texts have you chosen, and why? If you are using statistics, why is this set of data being used? If other data sources exist, explain why the data you chose is most appropriate to addressing the research problem.
  • Provide a justification for case study selection . A common method of analyzing research problems in the social sciences is to analyze specific cases. These can be a person, place, event, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis that are either examined as a singular topic of in-depth investigation or multiple topics of investigation studied for the purpose of comparing or contrasting findings. In either method, you should explain why a case or cases were chosen and how they specifically relate to the research problem.
  • Describe potential limitations . Are there any practical limitations that could affect your data collection? How will you attempt to control for potential confounding variables and errors? If your methodology may lead to problems you can anticipate, state this openly and show why pursuing this methodology outweighs the risk of these problems cropping up.

NOTE :   Once you have written all of the elements of the methods section, subsequent revisions should focus on how to present those elements as clearly and as logically as possibly. The description of how you prepared to study the research problem, how you gathered the data, and the protocol for analyzing the data should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic. If necessary, consider using appendices for raw data.

ANOTHER NOTE : If you are conducting a qualitative analysis of a research problem , the methodology section generally requires a more elaborate description of the methods used as well as an explanation of the processes applied to gathering and analyzing of data than is generally required for studies using quantitative methods. Because you are the primary instrument for generating the data [e.g., through interviews or observations], the process for collecting that data has a significantly greater impact on producing the findings. Therefore, qualitative research requires a more detailed description of the methods used.

YET ANOTHER NOTE :   If your study involves interviews, observations, or other qualitative techniques involving human subjects , you may be required to obtain approval from the university's Office for the Protection of Research Subjects before beginning your research. This is not a common procedure for most undergraduate level student research assignments. However, i f your professor states you need approval, you must include a statement in your methods section that you received official endorsement and adequate informed consent from the office and that there was a clear assessment and minimization of risks to participants and to the university. This statement informs the reader that your study was conducted in an ethical and responsible manner. In some cases, the approval notice is included as an appendix to your paper.

III.  Problems to Avoid

Irrelevant Detail The methodology section of your paper should be thorough but concise. Do not provide any background information that does not directly help the reader understand why a particular method was chosen, how the data was gathered or obtained, and how the data was analyzed in relation to the research problem [note: analyzed, not interpreted! Save how you interpreted the findings for the discussion section]. With this in mind, the page length of your methods section will generally be less than any other section of your paper except the conclusion.

Unnecessary Explanation of Basic Procedures Remember that you are not writing a how-to guide about a particular method. You should make the assumption that readers possess a basic understanding of how to investigate the research problem on their own and, therefore, you do not have to go into great detail about specific methodological procedures. The focus should be on how you applied a method , not on the mechanics of doing a method. An exception to this rule is if you select an unconventional methodological approach; if this is the case, be sure to explain why this approach was chosen and how it enhances the overall process of discovery.

Problem Blindness It is almost a given that you will encounter problems when collecting or generating your data, or, gaps will exist in existing data or archival materials. Do not ignore these problems or pretend they did not occur. Often, documenting how you overcame obstacles can form an interesting part of the methodology. It demonstrates to the reader that you can provide a cogent rationale for the decisions you made to minimize the impact of any problems that arose.

Literature Review Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.e., the choice of a survey should include any citations to the works you used to help construct the survey].

It’s More than Sources of Information! A description of a research study's method should not be confused with a description of the sources of information. Such a list of sources is useful in and of itself, especially if it is accompanied by an explanation about the selection and use of the sources. The description of the project's methodology complements a list of sources in that it sets forth the organization and interpretation of information emanating from those sources.

Azevedo, L.F. et al. "How to Write a Scientific Paper: Writing the Methods Section." Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia 17 (2011): 232-238; Blair Lorrie. “Choosing a Methodology.” In Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation , Teaching Writing Series. (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers 2016), pp. 49-72; Butin, Dan W. The Education Dissertation A Guide for Practitioner Scholars . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010; Carter, Susan. Structuring Your Research Thesis . New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; Kallet, Richard H. “How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper.” Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004):1229-1232; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008. Methods Section. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Rudestam, Kjell Erik and Rae R. Newton. “The Method Chapter: Describing Your Research Plan.” In Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process . (Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 2015), pp. 87-115; What is Interpretive Research. Institute of Public and International Affairs, University of Utah; Writing the Experimental Report: Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Methods and Materials. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College.

Writing Tip

Statistical Designs and Tests? Do Not Fear Them!

Don't avoid using a quantitative approach to analyzing your research problem just because you fear the idea of applying statistical designs and tests. A qualitative approach, such as conducting interviews or content analysis of archival texts, can yield exciting new insights about a research problem, but it should not be undertaken simply because you have a disdain for running a simple regression. A well designed quantitative research study can often be accomplished in very clear and direct ways, whereas, a similar study of a qualitative nature usually requires considerable time to analyze large volumes of data and a tremendous burden to create new paths for analysis where previously no path associated with your research problem had existed.

To locate data and statistics, GO HERE .

Another Writing Tip

Knowing the Relationship Between Theories and Methods

There can be multiple meaning associated with the term "theories" and the term "methods" in social sciences research. A helpful way to delineate between them is to understand "theories" as representing different ways of characterizing the social world when you research it and "methods" as representing different ways of generating and analyzing data about that social world. Framed in this way, all empirical social sciences research involves theories and methods, whether they are stated explicitly or not. However, while theories and methods are often related, it is important that, as a researcher, you deliberately separate them in order to avoid your theories playing a disproportionate role in shaping what outcomes your chosen methods produce.

Introspectively engage in an ongoing dialectic between the application of theories and methods to help enable you to use the outcomes from your methods to interrogate and develop new theories, or ways of framing conceptually the research problem. This is how scholarship grows and branches out into new intellectual territory.

Reynolds, R. Larry. Ways of Knowing. Alternative Microeconomics . Part 1, Chapter 3. Boise State University; The Theory-Method Relationship. S-Cool Revision. United Kingdom.

Yet Another Writing Tip

Methods and the Methodology

Do not confuse the terms "methods" and "methodology." As Schneider notes, a method refers to the technical steps taken to do research . Descriptions of methods usually include defining and stating why you have chosen specific techniques to investigate a research problem, followed by an outline of the procedures you used to systematically select, gather, and process the data [remember to always save the interpretation of data for the discussion section of your paper].

The methodology refers to a discussion of the underlying reasoning why particular methods were used . This discussion includes describing the theoretical concepts that inform the choice of methods to be applied, placing the choice of methods within the more general nature of academic work, and reviewing its relevance to examining the research problem. The methodology section also includes a thorough review of the methods other scholars have used to study the topic.

Bryman, Alan. "Of Methods and Methodology." Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal 3 (2008): 159-168; Schneider, Florian. “What's in a Methodology: The Difference between Method, Methodology, and Theory…and How to Get the Balance Right?” PoliticsEastAsia.com. Chinese Department, University of Leiden, Netherlands.

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How to Write Sociology Papers

Writing sociology papers.

Writing is one of the most difficult and most rewarding of all scholarly activities. Few of us, students or professors, find it easy to do. The pain of writing comes largely as a result of bad writing habits. No one can write a good paper in one draft on the night before the paper is due. The following steps will not guarantee a good paper, but they will eliminate the most common problems encountered in bad papers.

1. Select a topic early. Start thinking about topics as soon as the paper is assigned and get approval of your topic choice from the professor before starting the research on the paper. When choosing a topic, think critically. Remember that writing a good sociology paper starts with asking a good sociological question.

2. Give yourself adequate time to do the research. You will need time to think through the things you read or to explore the data you analyze. Also, things will go wrong and you will need time to recover. The one book or article which will help make your paper the best one you've ever done will be unavailable in the library and you have to wait for it to be recalled or to be found through interlibrary loan. Or perhaps the computer will crash and destroy a whole afternoon's work. These things happen to all writers. Allow enough time to finish your paper even if such things happen.

3. Work from an outline. Making an outline breaks the task down into smaller bits which do not seem as daunting. This allows you to keep an image of the whole in mind even while you work on the parts. You can show the outline to your professor and get advice while you are writing a paper rather than after you turn it in for a final grade.

4. Stick to the point. Each paper should contain one key idea which you can state in a sentence or paragraph. The paper will provide the argument and evidence to support that point. Papers should be compact with a strong thesis and a clear line of argument. Avoid digressions and padding.

5. Make more than one draft. First drafts are plagued with confusion, bad writing, omissions, and other errors. So are second drafts, but not to the same extent. Get someone else to read it. Even your roommate who has never had a sociology course may be able to point out unclear parts or mistakes you have missed. The best papers have been rewritten, in part or in whole, several times. Few first draft papers will receive high grades.

6. Proofread the final copy, correcting any typographical errors. A sloppily written, uncorrected paper sends a message that the writer does not care about his or her work. If the writer does not care about the paper, why should the reader?

Such rules may seem demanding and constricting, but they provide the liberation of self discipline. By choosing a topic, doing the research, and writing the paper you take control over a vital part of your own education. What you learn in the process, if you do it conscientiously, is far greater that what shows up in the paper or what is reflected in the grade.


Some papers have an empirical content that needs to be handled differently than a library research paper. Empirical papers report some original research. It may be based on participant observation, on secondary analysis of social surveys, or some other source. The outline below presents a general form that most articles published in sociology journals follow. You should get specific instructions from professors who assign empirical research papers.

1. Introduction and statement of the research question.

2. Review of previous research and theory.

3. Description of data collection including sample characteristics and the reliability and validity of techniques employed.

4. Presentation of the results of data analysis including explicit reference to the implications the data have for the research question.

5. Conclusion which ties the loose ends of the analysis back to the research question.

6. End notes (if any).

7. References cited in the paper.

Tables and displays of quantitative information should follow the rules set down by Tufte in the work listed below.

Tufte, Edward. 1983. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information . Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press. (lib QA 90 T93 1983)

How To Write A Sociology Research Paper Outline

Sociology can be both a very interesting topic, as well as a very confusing one. For those who are tasked with writing a sociology paper, there is a starting point that you must begin with:  Sociology research paper outline. Without this, you’re going to find it challenging to keep yourself (as well as your paper) on track. With that in mind, you can learn how to take the first step of writing a sociology paper.

What is a Sociology Research Paper?

Of course, if you want to write sociological papers, you’re going to need to look at both the writing aspect as well as the more in-depth understanding of the topic that you’ll be covering. If you find yourself worried and keep searching the internet for “ buy research paper online ,” relax. It’s simple. To make it easy to understand, we’ll look at the two parts.

The first ingredient, for a sociology research paper, is, of course, sociology. If you’re writing about it, it’s likely you know what the topic is already. However, we’ll go ahead and give it a concise definition:  Sociology is the study of human society. It covers how we developed it, the structure, and its crucial functions. That’s a very broad definition, but it’s all you need to know to get ready to write your sociology term paper.

The second part of this project is going to be the paper part. You’re likely as familiar with the definition of papers as you are with the meaning of sociology. In this instance, a concrete example of what you’ll need to provide is difficult. Most have the same basic makeup such as arguments along with supporting facts as well as the main thesis.

Sociology Paper Format

When writing in sociology class, whether it’s for a term paper or just a general essay, sociology paper will follow the same basic format:  An introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. For those wondering how to write a research summary , this is a secure place to start.

The introduction is where you’ll state to your reader the topic that you will be writing about. As well, you should give the purpose of the piece. Make the reason for the paper clear. It shouldn’t be dull; you need to keep it interesting, so they don’t zone out halfway through. It should also be informative. What good is a paper that doesn’t teach? If you’re worried about how to choose a topic for a research paper, it’s not as difficult as it seems. Simply searching for “research question sociology” can get you there. Even if it isn’t assigned, you can usually choose something involving.

The body paragraphs are what most would consider being “the paper.” This consists of multiple paragraphs and gives individual ideas along with the supporting evidence for them, which is what will make your sociology papers and their arguments strong. Each part should cover one topic and provide all of the information that the reader would need for it. Good investigations make it easy to understand what’s being written about, after all. There should be at least three, but not many more. You don’t want to lose their interest, after all!

The last part of your paper is going to be the conclusion. This is usually relatively brief but delivers the final consensus of your work. You should make it very plain focus readers’ attention on your findings, how your supporting evidence (found in the body paragraphs) led to it, and what it means. There should be no misunderstandings by the time the conclusion is finished.

Sociology Research Paper Outline Template

There are three types of sociology paper outline that you can use:  Traditional, conceptual, and post-draft. All of them are different and have their uses. Conceptual outlines are great for those who like to think outside of the box. Instead of just writing, you’re drawing! Here, a circle represents the source, a rectangle – the central theme, and a triangle – the conclusion. They are all interconnected with lines and arrows. A post-draft outline involves writing out what you want to cover on a piece of paper. Do this as the ideas come to you. Write how these are supported. You don’t have to worry about being orderly; just get everything down! Afterward, you can neatly arrange everything by bullet points. By far, the most widely used and best-known is what is called “the traditional outline.” Here, you break down the paper by the format you’ll be writing in. There is generally an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The body paragraphs contain both the main idea for the paragraph and the supporting information for it. Just like in your essay. Generally, it is presented as headings (such as Introduction, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusion shown below) with the numbered or lettered lists beneath them that contain the information needed. This is just a summary, so it should be condensed. You can be a bit lost with it as long as it makes sense to you. Since it’s the most widely used, that’s what we’ll focus on. You can see an example of one below.

Sociology Research Paper Outline Template


  • What is the topic of your paper? What is the thesis statement or the main question? Make sure to include it here and to make it clear to the reader.
  • What do you intend to do in this paper? Are you arguing for or against something? Or are you simply informing the reader? You should state your intended purpose.

Body Paragraphs

  • This is where you will discuss your topic. Try to keep it clear and concise and not overly broad.
  • Include any information that supports the topic.
  • What is the summary of your paper? What, exactly, did you cover while writing it? Summarize it fairly, but briefly. You don’t need to restate the entire thing!
  • What were your conclusions? Lay them out plainly, so that everyone can understand them. Make sure they were supported.

When it’s time to write your sociological paper outline, you need to put some thoughts and efforts into it. A good framework will keep your writing on track; keep your information organized and in one place. Make everything step-by-step through the writing process until you can back up your findings at the end. With the right amount of planning ahead as well as work, you can turn a daunting task into the one that can be easily managed.

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This sample sociology research paper features: 10800 words (approx. 36 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 59 sources. Browse other research paper examples for more inspiration. If you need a thorough research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers for help. This is how your paper can get an A! Feel free to contact our writing service for professional assistance. We offer high-quality assignments for reasonable rates.

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The early sociology, the foundation of social science: statistical studies, the rise of american sociology, the substance of the sociological perspective, the passion for sociology, conclusion: the future of sociology.

  • Bibliography

A commonly accepted definition of sociology as a special science is that it is the study of social aggregates and groups in their institutional organization, of institutions and their organization, and of the causes and consequences of changes in institutions and social organization. (Albert J. Reiss, Jr. 1968:1)

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Within the contemporary context, sociologists are interested in human social interaction as people take one another into account as each behaves toward the other. Sociologists also take into analytical consideration the systemic units of interaction within social groups, social relations, and social organizations. As stated by Reiss (1968), the purview of sociology extends to

Governments, corporations, and school systems to such territorial organizations as communities or to the schools, factories, and churches . . . that are components of communities. . . . are also concerned with social aggregates, or populations, in their institutional organization. (P. 1)

Sociology is, as Touraine (1990) suggests, an interpretation of social experience and is thus a part of the reality that the practitioners of the discipline attempt to observe and explain. To these areas we can add that sociology is a discipline that demystifies its subject matter, and it is, as Dennis H. Wrong (1990:21–22) notes, a debunker of popular beliefs, holds skeptical and critical views of the institutions that are studied (Smelser 1990), and challenges myth making (Best 2001).

The early history of sociology is a history of ideas developed in the European tradition, whereas the sociological approach of the last 150 years involved the development of concepts, methodology, and theories, especially in the United States (Goudsblom and Heilbron 2001). As American sociologists trained in the traditional theory and methods developed during the first eight decades of the twentieth century, we acknowledge our intellectual debt to the European founders. But beyond an earnest recognition of the classic work of the early founders, including Auguste Comte, Émile Durkheim, Alexis de Tocqueville, Frederic LePlay, Marcell Mauss, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Harriet Martineau, most of whom were attracted to the European environment that included the liberalism, radicalism, and conservatism of the early to mid-nineteenth century (Nisbet 1966; Friedrichs 1970) and to what C. Wright Mills (1959) refers to as the sociological imagination that “enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society” (p. 6), our approach to sociology is deeply embedded with and indebted to those individuals who established the Chicago, Harvard, Iowa, and Berkeley schools of thought. Similarly, as practitioners, our approach to the discipline of sociology is reflected in these distinctive American scholarly perspectives.

The American tradition of sociology has focused on social policy issues relating to social problems, the recognition of which grew out of the dynamic periods of social transformation wrought by the Industrial Revolution, the Progressive Era, world crises engendered by war, worldwide population shifts, increasing mechanization, and the effort of sociologists to create a specific niche for the discipline within a growing scientific community. This effort occurred first in North America and Western Europe and then, similar to cultural transitions of the past, within a global context. In every instance, the motives embedded within a science of society lie in the attempt to understand and offer proposals for solutions to whatever problems gain significant attention at a particular point in time.

In a most interesting work, Goudsblom and Heilbron (2001) pose that sociology represents a great diversity, or what some analysts may refer to as fragmentation, because the discipline grew as a part of the processes affecting societies and cultures worldwide throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Thus, as we move well into a new era and a new stage of academic development, it remains important that we recognize the sociological heritage as identified and discussed by these analysts. The five stages that sociology has experienced to date are (1) the predisciplinary stage prior to 1830, further identified as “protosociologies”; (2) the formation of the intellectual discipline, 1830–1890; (3) the formation of an academic discipline with diverging national traditions, 1890–1930; (4) the establishment of an international academic discipline, 1930–1970; and (5) a period of crisis, fragmentation, and attempts to develop a new synthesis, 1970–2000 (Goudsblom and Heilbron 2001:14574–80).

Consistent with the fifth stage, for almost four decades we have been witness to major changes in the substantive topics that undergo sociological inquiry both in the United States and, given the influence on the discipline by Canadian, European, and Scandinavian scholars, internationally. Among the areas more fully developed that might be identified as fragmentation are many of the most interesting sociological topics, including deviant behavior, the family, religion, gender, aging, health, the environment, science and technology, among so many seemingly unrelated topics. The unique conceptual paradigms of sociology serve as a template or pattern for seeing the social world in a special way. Every discipline and, indeed, every occupation employs templates or patterns to see and accomplish things in a unique fashion. Disciplines such as sociology rely on intellectual templates based on certain conceptual schemes or paradigms that have evolved through the development of a body of knowledge in those disciplines.

In its early era of the mid- to late nineteenth century, sociology was understood to represent anything relating to the study of social problems. Indeed, it was thought that the methods of the social sciences could be applied to social problems and used to develop solutions (Bernard and Bernard 1943). In focusing on such substance, O’Neill (1967:168–69) notes that periodicals of this early period had a sociological section in which news items relating to family matters, poverty, and labor often appeared. These early social scientists did not hold any special talents other than their training in theology. This situation was similar in the United States as well. It is not difficult, then, to imagine that, as Bramson (1961) notes, “For many American sociologists these problems evoked a moral response” (p. 75). Thus, the process of solving the problems of society was attempted by application of the conventional morality and the validation of Christian principles of piety rather than reform or progress.

Sociology was born as a result of a process, a process that directed a method of inquiry away from philosophy and toward positivism (MacIver 1934). Sociology was the result of a process caused by two major forces—namely, the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution. The events, changes, and ideas that emerged from these two revolutions are found in the nineteenth-century thought pertaining to social order (Eisenstadt 1968). Following in the wake of the Age of Reason and the Renaissance, according to Nisbet (1966), this was a period of word formation:

Perhaps the richest period of word formation in history . . . which were either invented during this period or were modified to their present meanings: industry, industrialist, democracy, class, middle class, ideology, intellectual, rationalism, humanitarian, atomistic, masses, commercialism, proletariat, collectivism, equalitarian, liberal, conservative, scientist, crisis . . . [among others]. (P. 23)

These were words that held great moral and partisan interest in the European economy and culture; such passions were identified with politics as well.

Identified with European conservatism, which became infused by and with science, the visionary perspective promoted by Auguste Comte during the 1830s in his six-volume Positive Philosophy, later translated from the French and condensed into two volumes by Harriet Martineau, was based on the medieval model of European society.

This model of family, community, authority, tradition, and the sacred became the core of scientific sociology that was to serve notice that a science of society was essential to provide for more than commonsense analysis and to reestablish social order (MacIver 1934). Although unsuccessful in his quest to secure a professorship, Auguste Comte was a positivist, mathematician, and promoter of the scientific identity of the engineering profession (Noble 1999). Comte argued that positivism and the still-to-beidentified area of “sociology” would serve as a means of supporting his intention to create a unique perspective of human relations and a system to reestablish the social order and organization of society. Reestablishment of this new social order was to proceed in accordance with the positivist stage of evolution with its ineluctable natural laws that could and would be established through engaging the scientific perspective. Along with the arts, the science of sociology, according to Comte, was to emerge as the queen of the sciences, the scientia scientorum, and would ultimately supplant biology and cosmology.

If the restoration of order in French society was a preoccupation for many early-nineteenth-century scholars, including Auguste Comte, it was also the case, as Bramson (1961) notes, that

many of the key concepts of sociology illustrate this concern with the maintenance and conservation of order; ideas such as status, hierarchy ritual, integration, social function and social control are themselves a part of the history of the reaction to the ideals of the French Revolution. What conservative critics saw as resulting from these movements was not the progressive liberation of individuals, but increasing insecurity and alienation, the breakdown of traditional associations and group ties. (Pp. 13–14)

For social scientists of the early nineteenth century, many of the problems of the time were much more well defined than is the case in the contemporary experience.

Comte was fervently religious, and he believed those interested in science would constitute a “priesthood of positivism” that would ultimately lead to a new social order. According to Noble (1999),

A theist in spite of himself, Comte declared that the existence of the Great Being “is deeply stamped on all its creations, in moral, in the arts and sciences, in industry,” and he insisted, as had previous like-minded prophets since Erigena, that all such manifestations of divinity were equally vital means of mankind’s regeneration . . . Comte was convinced that people like himself, science-minded engineering savants occupied with the study of the sciences of observation are the only men whose capacity and intellectual culture fulfill the necessary conditions. (P. 85)

The legacy of this enthusiastic perspective is that sociology has been at the heart of the positivists’ contribution to the understanding of the human condition. It was also to serve in part as a basis for the reactions of conflict theorist Karl Marx, especially as these writings referred to the religious opiate of the masses deemed by Comte as critical to the reorganization of society (Noble 1999:87). The discipline continues to present an array of perspectives that have served to stimulate much controversy within both society and the discipline (see Turner 2001).

Although the sociological legacy of Harriet Martineau is substantial, as outlined by Lengermann and NiebruggeBrantley (1998), it was Martineau’s effort to translate and condense Auguste Comte’s six-volume magnum opus into a two-volume set of writings published in 1853 that allowed this important work to be available to the Englishspeaking world. Interestingly, Comte’s English translation came after Martineau’s sociological contributions, the richness of which was finally recognized by feminist researchers during the 1980s and 1990s. Martineau engaged in “participant observation” of the United States during the mid-1830s and subsequently published the two-volume Society in America (1836/1837), which is based on this excursion to the North American continent. Because of this experience, Martineau was able to lay the foundation for her treatise on research methodology in How to Observe Morals and Manners (1838).

Perhaps it is ironic that the distinctive difference between the European theoretical sociology and the empirical sociology practiced in the United States was advanced by events in Europe. Indeed, the origin of empirical sociology is rooted in Europe. Statistical studies began in the 1660s, thereby preceding the birth of all of the social sciences by a couple of centuries. The early statistical gatherers and analysts were involved in “political arithmetic” or the gathering of data considered relevant to public policy matters of the state, and as noted by Reiss (1968), the gathering of such data may have been accelerated to meet the needs of the newly emerging insurance industry and other commercial activities of the time. But it was the early work of the moral statisticians interested in reestablishing social order in the emerging industrial societies that was to lay the quantitative foundation for the discipline, especially the early scientific work of the French sociologist Émile Durkheim (Whitt 2001:229–35).

The second stage in the early history of quantification may have been related to the development of probability theory, the rise of the insurance industry, other commercial activities, and political necessity (Lecuyer and Oberschall 1968; Reiss 1968). English political arithmeticians, including John Graunt and William Petty, were destined to be followed by the efforts of the moral statisticians who engaged in data gathering in Belgium and France. Indeed, as early as 1831, the Belgian Adolphe Quetelet and the Frenchman Andre Michel de Guerry de Champneuf, in building on the early efforts of the practitioners of the “political arithmetic” that first began in the 1660s, were engaging in the government-sponsored data-gathering activity pertaining to data on moral topics, including suicide, prostitution, and illegitimacy. Such activities would prove quite instrumental in the establishment of the empirical social sciences. Even many of the methodologies developed during this same era of the early nineteenth century, as well as awareness of important ecological methodological issues such as statistical interactions, the ecological fallacy, and spuriousness, were developed by early moral statisticians such as Andre-Michel de Guerry and Adolphe Quetelet. Later, the work of Henry Morselli, Enrico Ferri, and Alfred Maury during this same century were to serve well the needs of aspiring European sociologists and even later members of the Chicago School of Sociology (Whitt 2001:229–31).

American sociology is one of the intellectual creations that has most deeply influenced our century. No other society ( the American ) has been more actively involved in understanding its own organizational change for the sake of knowledge itself. (Touraine 1990:252)

The birth of the social sciences in general and of sociology in particular is traced to the liberal democratic ideas generated by the British social philosophies of the seventeenth century—ideas that later were to be enhanced by the French Enlightenment of the eighteenth century and then transformed in the United States where these ideas served as the foundation for practical democratic society. The rise of American sociology can be traced to the early-nineteenthcentury social science movement, a movement that by the mid-1800s became a new discipline that was widely introduced into college and university curricula. The movement also led to the establishment of a national social science association that was to later spawn various distinctive social sciences, including sociology, as well as social reform associations (Bernard and Bernard 1943:1–8).

Although the promotion of the social sciences in the United States began as early as 1865 with the establishment of the American Association for the Promotion of Social Sciences and then, in 1869, creation of the American Social Science Association with its associationsponsored publication the Journal of Social Science, prior to the 1880s there had been no organized and systematic scientific research in the United States. This was the case simply because, as Howard W. Odum ([1927] 1965:3–20) noted, there was no university per se in which research as a scientific pursuit could be conducted. It is within the context of the movement to organize such a university that sociology and many other social sciences were embraced as viable academic disciplines, thereby allowing systematic research to be conducted in a rigorous manner. This also was a period of great emphasis on pursuing answers to new research questions through the evaluation of knowledge and the employment of methodological and statistical tools within an interdisciplinary context. Indeed, L. L. Bernard and Jessie Bernard (1943) posit that the vision of the founders of the American Social Science Association was “to establish a unified science of society which could and would see all human problems in their relationships and make an effort to solve these problems as unified wholes” (p. 601).

Thus, the social sciences in general and sociology in particular owe a great intellectual debt to the American intellects who studied at length with the masters of Europe. Included among these are notables such as William Graham Sumner, Lester Frank Ward, Albion Woodbury Small, Franklin Henry Giddings, John William Burgess, Herbert B. Adams, Thorstein Veblen, Frederick Jackson

Turner, James Harvey Robinson, George Vincent, Charles Horton Cooley, Edward Alsworth Ross, George Howard, Frank W. Blackmar, Ulysses G. Weatherly, John R. Commons, and Richard T. Ely (see Odum 1951, [1927] 1965); each of whom were well versed in scholarly areas other than sociology, including history, theology, economics, political science, and statistics. With the decline of the social science movement and its national association, the general discipline that emerged from the remains of social science was in fact sociology (Bernard and Bernard 1943:835).

The development of an intellectual and academic American sociology, like sociology in any part of the world, was and continues to be dependent on the social and political conditions of the country. In the United States, a liberal political climate and, in the aftermath of the Civil War, the advent of a system of a mass public education system, American sociology flourished. Thus, in countries in which the structure of the system of higher education was open to free inquiry, research was supported by private foundations and government contributions (Wright 1895), and the university was organized albeit loosely, sociology, subject to the polemics of its status as an academic science, gained entry if not acceptance among university faculty. Where education was available to the elite rather than the masses, sociology was less apt to flourish (Reiss 1968).

Another important factor is that American sociology arose basically without roots other than the growing influence of the social science movement in the United States and the emphasis on the virtues of science that permeated the intellectual and social environs of this same period. As noted by Neil J. Smelser (1990:49–60), American sociology did not experience the yoke of either European feudalism or any peculiar intellectual history. Rather, sociology came into being within American higher education during the 1880s and only after several other disciplines, including psychology and economics, had been accepted within the academy. Attempts among adherents of these other disciplines led to the establishment of the scientific theme within the social sciences. Early sociologists embraced this same scientific theme.

A second factor that had a profound effect on the early adherents of the sociological perspective is the social reform theme of the 1890s. The legacy of these two themes—namely, scientific respectability and social reform—became the dual platforms on which the unique American sociological perspective was to be based.

Although there was a great, direct influence of European thought, research, and the philosophy of the British Social Science Association on sociology to focus on attempting to solve America’s problems (Odum 1951:36–50), the rise of American sociology, at least during the first half of the twentieth century, was concomitant with the most dynamic period of technological, economic, and social reform changes ever recorded. In this context, Howard W. Odum (1951:52) views sociology as a product of the American social and cultural experience and places sociology’s heritage to be as “American as American literature,American culture, and the freedoms of the new world democracy” (p. 3). American sociology is thus part European and part American. Indeed, American sociology was envisioned early on as a social science that could and would assist policymakers and concerned citizens in creating the “American Dream.”

Consistent with this ideology, Odum (1951:59–60) identified three unique American developments, each of which influenced the direction of American sociology throughout the entire twentieth century. The first of these developments is the symbiotic relationship between the discipline and the American society and culture. The ideology that focused on the American Dream and its realization had a great influence.

The second development, according to Odum, is the emphasis on moral development and the motivation to establish ethics as a component of the educational curricula,American literature, and the social sciences, especially as these relate to ethical conduct, social justice, and public morality. Within sociology, this orientation is found in the application of sociological principles into economic and organizational behavior and the founding of the American Institute of Christian Sociology.

Finally, Odum (1951) notes, the American experience led to a research emphasis on social problems of a moral and economic nature. In an effort to better understand these social problems, sociologists organized the systematic study of issues such as waves of immigration, the working class, public disorder, neglect of children, violence toward women, intergroup conflict, urbanism, alcoholism, suicide, crime, mental illness, delinquency, and poverty (see also Fine 2006). This was the application side of sociology that held important social policy implication. However, there was also an early emphasis on a “general sociology” as opposed to a “special sociology” as was found at the more elite institutions of higher learning. Clearly, this difference foreshadowed the pure versus applied dichotomy that has generated so much discussion within the discipline (see Odum 1951:51–74).

Because of the important influence of the social science movement in the United States, there is some disagreement pertaining to who the founders and members of the first generation of American sociologists are (see Odum 1951, [1927] 1965). But publication of Lester Ward’s book Dynamic Sociology in 1883 does appear to mark the beginning of American sociology (Bramson 1961:84–85). On the other hand, there does not seem to be any disagreement as to the purpose of the American founders, and that was to establish a scientific theoretical base. Later, at the University of Chicago the goals were to establish a relationship between sociology and the classical problems of philosophy by focusing on process issues relating to elements of social control, such as conflict, competition, and accommodation (Kurtz 1986:95).

American sociology emerged concomitant with the challenges to legal philosophy and the discussion of questions relating to myriad questions that arose as the effects of industrialization were observed Calhoun (1919). Such questions have their focus on marriage, divorce, immigration, poverty, and health and how to employ the emerging scientific model to topical data that had been gathered by the nineteenth-century moral statisticians.

Leon Bramson (1961:47–48) observed that the most interesting aspect of American sociology in the first half of the twentieth century is that when affected by European theories of mass behavior and collective behavior, American sociologists, in their haste to establish a role for sociology in America, either transformed the meaning of the concepts to meet their needs or created new concepts to apply to the more liberal American social and political context. American sociologists, according to Bramson, also applied European theoretical concepts such as social pathology, social disorganization, and social control to the data referring to the American experience without regard for whatever special conditions should have been accounted for or even possible theoretical distortions; this issue is also discussed by Lester R. Kurtz (1986:60–83) in his evaluation of the Chicago School of Sociology.

Albert J. Reiss, Jr. (1968) notes that the first formal instruction of a sociology course in the United States was offered by William Graham Sumner, a professor of political and social science at Yale University, during 1876. The first, second, and third American Departments of Sociology were established at Brown University, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University, respectively (Kurtz 1986:93–97). Between 1889 and 1892, 18 American colleges and universities offered instruction in sociology, but in 1893, the University of Chicago was the first to develop a program that led to the granting of a Ph.D.

Despite the recognition of the emerging field of sociology as a distinctive area of inquiry, the focal point of a religious orientation and perhaps fervor expressed by social commentators in their discussions and analyses of the social issues that were to constitute the purview of sociology also engaged the attention of other early practitioners of the discipline. The social problems identified in the wake of expansion of the American West and the building of the railroads included issues relating to “the influx of immigrants, the rise of the factory system and the concentration of people in big cities. These comprised the now familiar catalogue of crime, delinquency, divorce, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, minority problems and slums” (Bramson 1961:75).

Alfred McClung Lee (1978:69) notes that ever since that time, sociologists have been attempting to divorce themselves from an ancestry that is historically rooted in the clergy, the police, utopian ideologues, social reformers, conservative apologists, journalistic muckrakers, radical thinkers, agitators, and civil libertarians.

Given the moral tone of much of the writing of many early American sociologists, it is noteworthy that in articulating the six “aims” of the American Journal of Sociology established at the University of Chicago in 1895, the scientific view of sociological concern so clearly defined several decades later by E. A. Ross (1936) was not so clear to many if not all of the moral philosophers of this earlier period. Witness the following comments offered by the founding editor of the American Journal of Sociology, Albion W. Small (1895):

Sociology has a foremost place in the thought of modern men. Approve or deplore the fact at pleasure, we cannot escape it. . . . To many possible readers the most important question abut the conduct of the Journal will be with reference to its attitude toward “Christian Sociology.” The answer is, in a word, towards Christian sociology sincerely deferential, toward “Christian sociologists” severely suspicious. (Pp. 1, 15)

These comments were of particular significance given that the American Journal of Sociology was not only the first journal of sociology created anywhere, but it was also, until 1936, the official journal of the American Sociological Society. Thus, the influence of both the Chicago School and the large number of contributions by its faculty and students to the American Journal of Sociology placed the work of the Chicago School at the forefront in shaping the early direction and substance of American, Canadian, and Polish sociology (Kurtz 1986:93–97). This was especially true in the subareas of urban and community studies, race and ethnic relations, crime and juvenile delinquency, deviance, communications and public opinion, and political sociology.

Leon Bramson (1961:73–95) identified three important phases in the rise of American sociology. The first period began in 1883 with the publication of Lester Ward’s Dynamic Sociology to about 1915 or 1918 with the publication of Robert E. Park’s essay on the city and/or the end of World War I, respectively. During this period, the founders began their earnest quest to establish the theoretical foundation as it related to the American experience focusing on “a liberal sociology of change and process, rather than one of conservation and equilibrium” (Bramson 1961:85).

This focus on change and process became even more evident during the second stage of American sociology, identified as the period between the two world wars. This was a period of academic expansion, with major increases in faculty and students, but even more important, led by sociologists at the University of Chicago, this was a period of specialization and the beginning of differentiation within sociology as the quest to develop a viable methodology began in earnest. This also was a meaningful period during which sociologists worked to establish the scientific status of the discipline and to earn respectability and academic legitimization. It was also a period during which many of the conceptual problems of sociology first began to emerge as its practitioners developed an increasingly complex technical vocabulary, a vast array of classification schema, and other abstract systems categories of thought. Perhaps assuming the need to compensate for a past that included so many nonscientifically moral reformistoriented representatives of the discipline, sociologists responded during this phase of development by creating complex theories that, for an extended period of time, were not only unintelligible to the layperson, but also the abstract nature of these grand theories exceeded the ability of social scientists to create methodologies appropriate to empirically test these theoretical models (Lee 1978). But despite this theoretical/methodological problem, this second stage of sociological development was also one in which much substance was created.

The history of sociology in America from prior to World War I to approximately the mid-1930s is, according to Kurtz (1986), a history of the school of thought promoted by the University of Chicago. If the second phase of American sociology is to be distinguished as a period dominated by the Chicago sociologists, it is also one that led Pitirim Sorokin to observe that American sociology was emerging as a distinctive brand:

The bulk of the sociological works in America are marked by their quantitative and empirical character while the bulk of the sociological literature of Europe is still marked by an analytical elaboration of concepts and definitions; by a philosophical and epistemological polishing of words. (Cited in Bramson 1961:89)

The period is characterized by a marked increase in the development of new and expanding methodologies and measurement. These new techniques included a plethora of scales intended to measure the theoretical concepts developed previously.

As noted, Goudsblom and Heilbron (2001) identify five phases of development of the discipline that cover the period prior to 1830 to the very end of the twentieth century. But the third phase of the development of American sociology, identified by Bramson (1961) as covering the period from 1940 to 1960, is noteworthy because this was a period during which the development and adoption of theories of the “middle-range” advocated by Robert K. Merton led to even greater specialization and differentiation of the discipline. In turn, sociologists began to develop ever-expanding areas of inquiry. Robert K. Merton ([1957] 1968), who wrote in reaction to the abstractness of the previous dominant position of the functionalist school of sociology, stated that theories of the middle range are

theories that lie between the minor but necessary working hypotheses that evolve in abundance during day-to-day research and the all-inclusive systematic efforts to develop a unified theory that will explain all the observed uniformities of social behavior, social organization and social change. (P. 39)

The all-inclusive efforts refer, of course, to the contributions of Talcott Parsons in The Structure of Social Action, originally published in 1937, and in 1951 with the appearance of The Social System.

The third phase of development can be characterized as the most enthusiastic period during which greater emphasis was placed on the application of sociological knowledge. As the field expanded, new outlets for sociological studies and knowledge were created, sociologists found employment in nonacademic settings such as government and business, and the new specialty areas of interest reflected the changes in American society, including a growing rise in membership in the middle class, the expansion of the suburbs, more leisure time, and the growth of bureaucracy. In lieu of the previous sociological interest in the reform of society and the more traditional social problems orientation of the discipline, the new sociology opted to leave such concerns to the social work profession and to special studies programs such as criminology. Thus, specialty areas emerged—areas such as the sociology of marriage and the family, and aging (later to be defined as gerontology), industrial sociology, public opinion, organizations, communications, and social psychiatry (later called mental health). From this point forward, the continued rise to respectability of sociology is attributed by analysts such as Robert Nisbet (1966) to the public recognition that societal problems are more integrative in nature than previously thought. This may also serve as a partial explanation for why the discipline is viewed by some as fragmented.

The logic and ethos of science is the search for the truth, the objective truth. Thus, the most fundamental problem the social scientist confronts, according to Gunnar Myrdal (1969), is this:

What is objectivity, and how can the student attain objectivity in trying to find out the facts and the causal relationships between facts? [That is,] How can a biased view be avoided? The challenge is to maintain an objectivity of that which the sociologist is a part. (P. 3)

Although the sociologies of the United States and Europe differ in perspective, both attempt to answer similar albeit distinguishable questions. In his discussion of “the two faces of sociology,” Touraine (1990:240) states that these differences lie in the scholarly research response to two problems: (1) How does society exist? (2) How are culture and society historically created and transformed by work, by the specific way nature and its resources are put to use, and through systems of political, economic, and social organization? Because the intellectual legacy of American sociological thought has been shaped to a large extent by the historical experience of creating a nation in which the rights and the will of the American people have been dominant, American sociologists have long focused on “institution” as a central concept and the significance of efforts of reform movements within the American society to affect its social organization. Thus, the substance of American sociology has been on topics such as the family, social organization, community, the criminal justice system, and law and society among the numerous institutionallevel areas of inquiry that are evaluated within the context of yet another American theoretical focus—namely, the emphasis on theories of the middle range. European sociologists, on the other hand, tend to focus on the second question while emphasizing the concept “revolution” in their analyses. Thus, even when similar topics such as social movements serve as the focus of inquiry, the American and European sociology responds from a different perspective (Touraine 1990). To understand the importance of this difference in perspective between the two sociologies, Alain Touraine (1990) poses the view that American sociology has a symbiotic relationship between culture and society, whereas European sociology integrates society and its history. Americans sociologists focus on society; the European sociology is focused on the rich history that serves as the backdrop for any attempt to understand social change.

Because the American experience is predicated on building a nation through the rule of law; the concepts of individualism, capitalism, and territorial conquest; and the attempt at integration of successive waves of immigrants to the North American continent,American sociology began its rise in prominence through an elitist intellectual process that dominated the academy during the early formative years of the discipline. Thus, it is perhaps ironic that an American sociology housed within the university setting would assume a critical teaching and research posture toward an elitist system of institutions that the early sociology assisted in creating. Within the context of certain kinds of social problems areas, such as ethnic studies, discrimination, and segregation, sociology and sociologists have been able to exert some influence. But in other important areas within which issues relating to elitist society may be involved, such as social class relations and economic and political power, the official and public perceptions of the efforts of American sociologists may not be as well received.

Many analysts of the past can be called on to render testimony in support of or apologize for the past efforts of sociologists to provide useful information, but none is perhaps more relevant than the following statement offered by George A. Lundberg (1947): “Good intentions are not a substitute for good techniques in either achieving physical or social goals” (p. 135). During the 1960s and 1970s, sociology, psychology, and other social science undergraduate job candidates customarily responded to interviewer queries with “I want to help people.” Similar to those who attended graduate school after World War II, these individuals were influenced by the potential of sociology to make a difference. But good intentions aside, the real issue is, How do we go about assisting/helping people? Perhaps the more educated and sophisticated we become, the more difficult are the answers to social problems and social arrangements that are deemed inappropriate or at least in need of some form of rearrangement. That is, the more we believe we already know the answers, the less apt we are to recognize the importance of the sociological perspective. Within this context, sociology necessarily must adhere to and advocate the use of the methods of science in approaching any social problem, whether this is local or international in scope.

Sociology has utility beyond addressing social problems and contributing to the development of new social policy. Indeed, the sociological perspective is empowering. Those who use it are in a position to bring about certain behavior in others. It has been said that “behavior that can be understood can be predicted, and behavior that can be predicted can likely be controlled.” It is not surprising that sociologists are often used to help select juries, develop effective advertising campaigns, plan political strategies for elections, and solve human relations problems in the workplace. As Peter Berger (1963) phrases it, “Sociological understanding can be recommended to social workers, but also to salesmen, nurses, evangelists and politicians—in fact to anyone whose goals involve the manipulation of men, for whatever purpose and with whatever moral justification” (p. 5). In some ways, it might be said that the sociological perspective puts one “in control.”

The manipulation of others, even for commendable purposes, however, is not without critical reaction or detractors. Some years back, industrial sociologists who worked for, or consulted with, industrial corporations to aid them to better address problems in the workplace were sometimes cynically labeled as “cow sociologists” because “they helped management milk the workers.” Knowledge is power that can be used for good or evil. The sociological perspective is utilitarian and empowering in that it can accomplish things for whatever purposes. Berger (1963) goes on to reflect the following:

If the sociologist can be considered a Machiavellian figure, then his talents can be employed in both humanly nefarious and humanly liberating enterprises. If a somewhat colorful metaphor may be allowed here, one can think of the sociologist as a condottiere of social perception. Some condottieri fight for the oppressors of men, others for their liberators. Especially if one looks around beyond the frontiers of America as well as within them, one can find enough grounds to believe that there is a place in today’s world for the latter type of condottiere. (P. 170)

Responding to the question, “Can science save us?” George A. Lundberg (1947) states “yes,” but he also equates the use of brain (the mind) as tantamount to employing science. Lundberg also posed the following: “Shall we place our faith in science or in something else?” (p. 142). Physical science is not capable of responding to human social issues. If sociologists have in a vain effort failed to fulfill the promise of the past, this does not indicate that they will not do so at some future time. Again, as Lundberg (1947) heeded long ago, “Science is at best a growth, not a sudden revelation. We also can use it imperfectly and in part while it is developing” (pp. 143–144).

And a few years later but prior to the turmoil that was to embroil the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, John Madge (1962) urged that a century after the death of the positivist Auguste Comte (now 150 years later) the structure of sociology remains incomplete. However, Madge recognized and demonstrates in The Origins of Scientific Sociology that sociology was slowly gaining in maturity and with this growth was on the verge of or within reach of achieving the status of a science. But it is also important to keep in focus the goals of science as articulated by Gunnar Myrdal (1969)—more specifically, “The goals of objectivity and effectiveness in research are honesty, clarity, and effectiveness” (p. 72). If the results of sociological research have been less than to the liking of policymakers and government and corporate leaders, then yet another of Myrdal’s insights is especially germane. That is,

Research is always and by logical necessity based on moral and political valuations, and the researcher should be obligated to account for them explicitly. When these valuations are brought out into the open any one who finds a particular piece of research to have been founded on what is considered wrong valuation can challenge it on that ground. (P. 74)

There are other reasons as well, reasons that complicate the delivery of the important message promoted by the discipline’s practitioners, for as noted by Joel Best (2003:11), sociology “is a perspective built on relativism, built on the recognition that people understand the world differently.” Indeed, many years earlier George C. Homans (1967) observed,

If some of the social sciences seem to have made little progress, at least in the direction of generalizing and explanatory science, the reason lies neither in lack of intelligence on the part of the scientists nor in the newness of the subject as an academic discipline. It lies rather in what is out there in the world of nature. (P. 89)

Such statements lie at the heart of the epistemological debate that began in the 1920s (see Reiss 1968:10–11) and continues into the modern era. Despite the vastness of sociological inquiry, it is obvious that a strong orientation toward the scientific study of human behavior, social interaction, and organizations continues and that this scientific focus is predicated on the assumption that such study is possible because it is based on the examination of phenomena that are subject to the operation of universal laws, a point not lost in the minds of the discipline’s founders. The counterpoint that the social sciences are cultural sciences and thereby fundamentally different from the physical sciences and also subject to different methodology and other evaluative criteria is representative of a longstanding European influence that also began in the 1920s.

Given the diversity and fluidity of the topics addressed and the levels of theories employed by sociologists, it is not surprising that many others do not agree. The counterargument is based on the premise that given the circumstances behind the evolution of science and the support it received in the past and the more repressive attention it receives in the contemporary experience from powerful interest groups, objective social science and the establishment of universal laws that are based on such inquiry may not be possible (see Turner 2001).

Whether or not one argues that the study of human society is unique, it is still extraordinary given the vast array of extant theories used to express the human experience and capacity. Witness the statement of one contemporary analyst who, in an intriguing assessment of the contemporary American “wilding” experience, wrote,

Sociology arose as an inquiry into the dangers of modern individualism, which could potentially kill society itself. The prospect of the death of society gave birth to the question . . . what makes society possible and prevents it from disintegrating into a mass of sociopathic and self-interested isolates? This core question of sociology has become the vital issue of our times. (Charles Derber 2003:18)

Only in part is Derber referring to the American experience. His assessment also speaks to the experience of Western Europe. Much social change has taken place, and the efforts of sociologists to describe and explain this change and to draw upon these insights to develop predictive models has led to a diversity of theories. Indeed, over time, the scientific paradigm shifts more generally described by Thomas Kuhn ([1962] 1970) are obvious in our discipline (see Friedrichs 1970). There have been, there are at present, and there undoubtedly will be future paradigm shifts within this evolving and apparently expanding discipline of sociology, many of which will focus, as has been the case in the past, on the social change process. And for all the so-called objectivity of a scientific sociology advocated by analysts such as George A. Lundberg (1947), the development of which is so eloquently described by Leon Bramson (1961)), sociologists have been involved in social activism and social engineering, that first occurred during the embryonic years of the discipline’s development (Volkart 1968). Such activism occurred again during the 1960s and 1970s, in many social justice areas, and in occupational settings such as those of the criminal justice system.

At present, sociological inquiry represents a vast array of topics and offers many competing theoretical models while its practitioners attempt to make sense of a rapidly changing world. For all its middle-range theories and studies that reflect the efforts of those dedicated to cumulative knowledge, it is also important that we recognize that the building of a paradigm as well as challenges to an extant paradigm are not relegated to the gathering of information alone. Indeed, if sociology is to advantage itself in the twenty-first century, it may be imperative that a dominant paradigm begins to identify the kinds of community needs that it can usually serve, for as Joseph R. Gusfield (1990) so clearly notes, sociology has been at odds with and a critic of the classical economic and individualistic interpretations of American life. Thus, whatever issues sociology may need to address at this juncture, perhaps we are hampered only by the limits of the sociological imagination. Again, the following comment by Homans (1967) is noteworthy:

The difficulties of social science lie in explanation rather than discovery. . . . Our trouble has not been with making discoveries but with organizing them theoretically—showing how they follow under a variety of given conditions from a few general principles. (Pp. 79, 105)

The present diversity of the discipline welcomed by so many social critics also serves as a barrier to the creation of a dominant theoretical paradigm. Without this focus, sociology remains in the minds of many of the discipline’s representatives a less-than-coherent discipline. Perhaps this is not different from the struggle of the 1960s as described by Gouldner (1970), a period that also was far less than organized and coherent and certainly far less civil in disagreement. It is important that sociologists take stock of their trade and question in earnest the utility of the work we do. As noted by Herbert L. Gans (1990),

By and large, we sociologists have been too distant from the society in which we operate and in which we are embedded, which funds us even if too poorly and which influences us surely more than we influence it. We are too busy trying to understand how that society functions . . . that we rarely think about our own functions—and dysfunctions. To some extent our failure to do so stems from a typical professional blindness, which results in our inability to distance ourselves sufficiently from ourselves and our routines to look systematically at what we are for and to whom. (Pp. 12–13)

Not all may agree, of course. Indeed, sociology in the United States and in Europe has been a critique of modern urban life with its emphasis on the individual, capitalism, and bureaucracy. In some instances, this critique of American society has been radical and reformist in its thrust (Gusfield 1990:31–46). And although American sociology had been shaped in part by psychology in establishing its methodology during the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, especially through a common socialpsychological area (see, e.g., Reiss 1968), it can be safely stated that American sociology has been transformed during the latter decades of the twentieth century.

Sociologists may be accused of engaging in an affair with their work. Witness the stirring comments of one colleague:

I fell in love with sociology when I was twelve. . . . Sociology was my savior. It saved me from the vexing confusion caused by my once despising the mundaneness of everyday life and deeply loving and admiring my people. It stabilized me by articulating the dedication that I felt for social justice. (Shahidian 1999:303–04)

We share this passionate approach to social science based on the insightful development of theory and empirical research, an approach that has, in turn, led to a vast array of subject matter. In light of these impressive contributions, the only aspect of this endeavor that may seem perplexing to some is that as we move further into the twenty-first century, there are those who continue to believe in and practice the scientific method; there also are those who argue that if the logic of science and the methods of scientific objectivity are to be carried to an extreme, sociology will lose or has already lost its humanistic perspective and, with this loss, the inclination toward active community involvement through social policy advocacy and practical intervention. As Peter L. Berger (1963) phrases it,

At the same time it is quite true that some sociologists, especially in America, have become so preoccupied with methodological questions that they have ceased to be interested in society at all. As a result, they have found out nothing of significance about any aspect of social life, since in science as in love a concentration on technique is quite likely to lead to impotence. (P. 13)

This dichotomy certainly is a matter of considerable debate, but perhaps most advocates and active practitioners of the discipline would fall somewhere in between these two orientations (see, e.g., Reiss 1968:10–11). In this regard, we are also optimistic that the sociological imagination will continue to be an important part of the work of sociologists as they take into consideration “a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves” (Mills 1959:5).

More than 170 years ago, sociology began to emerge from its philosophical and biological roots to it current status as an important social science. Early sociologists achieved renown based on their interest in providing information useful to appraise social policy issues. However, in the contemporary instance, there are strong indicators that sociology has not achieved the eminent position envisioned by the founders. Note the less-than-enthusiastic assessment offered by Black (1999):

The problems endemic to the discipline of sociology include the lack of a paradigm, disciplinary fragmentation, and the irreconcilability of science, ideology, and politics . . . and the lack of an occupational niche—[all these] place sociologists in the position of having constantly to defend the profession. (Pp. 261, 263)

Thus, as we move well into the twenty-first century, it is clear that sociology is engaged in yet another struggle to (re)identify itself. Perhaps such a struggle is to be expected of any science of human behavior. And nowhere is this situation more contentious than in the responses of representatives of the discipline to the question as to whether sociology is or is not yet considered an activity worthy of the label “scientific activity.”

At the center of this struggle lies the heart of any discipline—namely, sociological theory. Among the eminent theorists reporting on the status of sociology in this Handbook are individuals who represent the very best of what the discipline has to offer. That the message is suggestive of a continuing debate within the discipline is both disheartening and encouraging. It is disheartening in that after a period of more than 175 years, representatives of the discipline should be able to exclaim with great pride the accomplishments of so much activity instead of debating their scientific worth. It is encouraging because the current debate over the theory and the substance of the work sociologists engage in can only lead to the exploration of new and challenging frontiers. But the substance of sociological inquiry also represents a matter of contention for many research- and practitioner-oriented representatives of the discipline. Some contemporary analysts who have observed the developments within the academy during the past several decades call for a critical reevaluation of that which sociologists identify as the substance of research and understanding. Sociology has given birth to and generated intense interest in many areas of study that are no longer identified with the discipline. Because the specific subareas developed by sociologists became well accepted as legitimate applied disciplines within the academy, independent, overlapping units within the academy have been created.

If the 1960s represent the golden era of sociology, it is also a period, as described by Turner and Sica (2006), that is “remembered as a time of violence, massive social change, and personal transformation” (p. 4). The period had a profound effect on an entire generation of students, many of whom were instrumental in creating the new sociological emphasis that today is criticized for its diversity, the lack of continuity, and a failure to develop a unified paradigm. Whatever reservations that may continue to exist as we progress well into the twenty-first century, these can be hailed as a challenge. Thus, at the same time that community involvement and applied research are increasingly being devalued in the academic world, there is a distinct pressure, according to Harris and Wise (1998), for sociologists to become increasingly involved in the community and society.

This call to establish a public sociology may well combine with the three types of knowledge identified by Burawoy (2005)—the professional, critical, and policyspecific databases. In each of these areas, the initiative would be consistent with enthusiastic proclamations of the past. George A. Lundberg’s (1947) Can Science Save Us? serves as but one important example of those who promoted the application of social science insights to solve social problems. Of course, one major difference between the time when Lundberg wrote and now is that we are not rebounding from the tragedy of a world war. Indeed, it was during the post-World War II period and during the subsequent several decades that American sociology assumed its theoretical and empirical dominance (Odum 1951), especially in the area of deviant behavior (see Touraine 1990). Yet another important difference between then and now, as Harris and Wise (1998) suggest, is that sociologists need to be perceived as problem solvers rather than as social critics, and similar to the pleas of Marion Talbot (1896) at the end of the nineteenth century, much of the sociological may necessarily become interdisciplinary in nature. This perspective is supported as a portion of a more scholarly editorial philosophy articulated by Wharton (2006:1–2). Most noteworthy for our purpose are points three and four:

(3) Be aware and reflective about the . . . broader contributions to scholarship, policy, and/or activism . . . ; (4) produce useful knowledge—not merely in the applied sense of solving problems, but knowledge that is useful as basic research that can help people better understand and transform the social world. (P. 1)

These same kinds of issues—social activism and public policy research—were recognized at the end of the nineteenth century as strengths of the new discipline.

Thus, there appears to be hopeful as well as worrisome aspects of sociology at the end of the twentieth century (Lewis 1999). But this kind of enthusiasm and concern appears to be periodic throughout the history of the discipline as sociologists attempt to both define and then redefine the parameters of what some argue is too extensive a range of topics to allow practitioners of the discipline to be definitively identified (Best 2003). Witness the statement attributed to one of the coeditors of this Handbook who, in the early 1980s, wrote the following:

Future prospects for sociology(ists) no doubt will depend upon our ability to identify and respond to community needs, to compete for funds available from nontraditional sources, to work in applied areas, and to establish creative problemsolving strategies. The challenge before us should generate a healthy response. (Peck 1982:319–20)

Since that time and in the wake of a declining influence of the social sciences, there has been a response as evidenced by the many new areas of inquiry, many interdisciplinary in nature, that currently curry attention from sociologists. Indeed, there does appear to be a fragmentation, but this so-called fragmentation is consistent with an assessment offered by Beck (1999), “Sociology today, as throughout its history, is not unified. . . . we have never been able to sustain . . . unanimity and consistency for very long. Thank goodness” (p. 121).

Perhaps we do not engage in “normal science,” at least not in the sense that Thomas Kuhn ([1962] 1970) refers to it. That is, academic sociologists continue to function quite well even though they are outside the single frame of reference that usually serves as the paradigmatic foundation for the physical sciences. Normal science is rigid, but it is also burdened by uncertainty and inconsistency, as Friedrichs (1970) observes. In the case of sociology, this is found in the diversity of theoretical models and topical areas. Although some analysts lament the current state of the discipline, Jacobs (2004) recently observed that “some might view this diversity [of topics] as evidence of excessive fragmentation, (but) there are important theoretical connections” (p. v). Of course, the substance of manuscripts submitted for possible publication, the rubrics under which the research can be categorized, is quite different from the search for a common sociological paradigm. To wit, classic studies do exist, but none serve to forge a single paradigm. Thus, the future of the discipline will depend, as usual, on the contributions of those who may be relatively silent in the wake of less-than-acceptable “scholarship,” as suggested by Lewis (1999), but who nonetheless commit themselves to excellence by producing significant contributions to theory and application (see, e.g., Rossi 1999) that should, in the long run, counter the myriad productions that are less significant. Concomitant with this effort will be an increased awareness of and involvement in the applied and an earnest effort to again be a viable force in the policy-related aspects of sociology and society. In other words, we believe there will be a reawakening of and involvement in those aspects of sociology that served the discipline well during its early years of development in the United States (see Ross 1936) even as the applied social work-oriented practitioners broke away to form their own professional association (Odum 1951; Rossi 1999). Indeed, there exists a need for answers to myriad policy-oriented questions as well as applied concerns at all governmental levels.

But in the end, sociologists may, as Beck (1999:123) suggests, go where they go, where they want to go. This may again mean that sociologists will abandon important areas of inquiry that they helped to establish, leaving the sociological legacy to others. Sociologists will also move to create other areas of inquiry while questioning past and present assumptions and knowledge claims in an ongoing quest to better understand social arrangements and to engage in, as Beck (1999) observes, “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the sociological imagination” (p. 124). To this we can add the quest to establish the meaning of social justice in a rapidly changing democratic society.

Thus, contrary to dubious predictions of an ominous obscure future, the content of this Handbook attests to a much more positive and grand future orientation within the discipline that will include much more than the rigorous efforts to clean up conceptual problems that sociologists are supposedly noted for. Moreover, the epistemological debates of the past will undoubtedly continue as Turner (2001) and Best (2003) suggest, but in so doing, the future of academic sociology will again be broadened. This expansion will again, we think, involve the applied aspects of the discipline and engagement of the public through active involvement of sociologists in the four traditional areas—namely, through a public sociology with an emphasis on further development of the profession and a critical civic activism with the intent to broadly influence social policy. Moreover, the increasing influence of European sociology in the global community will undoubtedly continue; this influence is not only important, it is most welcome. Given the above, it may well be that another call to arms will result. There has been a movement, albeit a small movement, among highly regarded intellectuals (the National Association of Scholars) to enhance the substance and quality of academic teaching and scholarly activity. This, too, is welcome in sociology.

The world that engages a scientist, as noted by Friedrichs (1970), is one that emerges from a scientific tradition, along with its special vocabulary and grammar and environment. Sociology’s laboratory is the social world and on occasion its practitioners are criticized by those who argue the arcane nature of all that is considered scientific. If the normal science, as described by Thomas Kuhn ([1962] 1970) and Robert W. Friedrichs (1970), is to be realized within the discipline of sociology, then it may depend on efforts of young sociologists (see, e.g., Frickel and Gross 2005) who may capture the essence of such a paradigm in a general theory of scientific/intellectual movements. Such work may also serve to stimulate more thought as to the requisite initiatives essential for subsequently developing the kind of intellectual movement that will define once again, and actively promote, the substance of the sociological perspective.

If the emphasis of American sociology at the beginning of the twentieth century was unsophisticated, armchair science that “featured the study of general society and the ‘system’ of social theory, it reflected not only the almost universal philosophical approach but also the consistency of the best minds in interaction with European philosophy and American higher education” (Odum 1951:421–22). In the mid-twentieth century, sociology, similar to other social and physical sciences, struggled to determine whether the future of the discipline would continue to pursue a general systems theory of society or whether the discipline’s practitioners would develop more theory and then relate these theories to research and the scientific method (Odum 1951:422). At this critical midpoint of the century past, and in recognition of the importance of the discipline, Odum (1951) wrote that there is

the extraordinary need in the contemporary world for a social science to seek special knowledge of human society and welfare and meet the crises brought on by science and technology, so often out of perspective to human relations, and so to provide the basis for not only a social morale in an age of science but for societal survival as well. (P. 3)

At the end of the twentieth century, these comments rang clear, and as we move forward and well into the greater twenty-first-century experience, Odum’s words seem no less germane today than in the past.

Toward establishing the prospects for the future of this great academic discipline, we hasten to add how critical it is and will be to again acknowledge the important work of the founding mothers and fathers of sociology. Thus, at the end of the twentieth century, the state of sociology may have been debatable, but during the initial decades of the twenty-first century, sociologists will undoubtedly take up the challenge to pursue answers to vexing social problems that are, as Fine (2006:14–15) states, embedded with complex, dynamic, interconnected social systems. Some of the solutions to be tendered in the near future may not serve well the needs of all citizens, but these should nonetheless address policy issues relating to social freedom, social justice, and social equality while recognizing that such policies determine the behavior of those actors whom sociologists are intent to study. Herein American sociologists may now have achieved the requisite disciplinary maturity to employ the kind of sociological imagination envisioned by C. Wright Mills (1959) half a century ago. Such a sociology would, in the tradition of Europe, encompass a biography and history within society, thereby allowing sociology to represent not only a scientific enterprise but also to serve as a sensitizing discipline that allows us to continue to view the world in a new and interpretive fashion.

Finally, in some peculiar ways, the vexing problems that capture our attention during the early portion of the twenty-first century parallel those of the early twentieth century; this is true at all levels of society and perhaps even more so within those sectors that heretofore were barricaded from a critical analyses. The actors may have changed but, in general, the public concerns regarding the kinds of behavior tolerated and considered to be appropriate tend to remain the same. And as the moral entrepreneurs of the twenty-first century push their agendas, the new prohibitionist movements continue to capture the attention of policymakers, which may of necessity be cause for some sociologists at least to revisit many of the same topics that held sway in the past. Thus, we will continue to use templates in our lives to understand the world, physical and social, in which we exist. The sociological templates derived from the many conceptual constructs available provide us with a unique and perceptive perspective. As sociology further develops, new conceptual constructs will be added and will contribute to its unique perspective, thereby enhancing our ability to better analyze and understand human social behavior.


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sociology research paper writing

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How to Write a Sociology Research Paper Outline: Tips and Examples

How to Write a Sociology Research Paper Outline: Tips and Examples

Sociology is a fascinating discipline. It opens the doors to understanding a lot about social life, the nature of interpersonal relationships, social institutions, and the consequences of certain patterns of human behavior. This science discovers how groups develop and interact, so many students find it really interesting.

But sociology is a dynamic study and focuses both on old and new problems of society, which means there is always some room for new investigations. If it happens that your research paper is dedicated to this field of social studies, you are a lucky dog because we’ll share some tips on how to write a sociology research paper with no trouble.

General Tips on Composing a Research Paper on Sociology

Some students have an in-born talent for crafting research papers, no matter if it's sociology, human resources , technology , anthropology , geology or history research . Others challenge themselves every time they have to write any type of paper. We’ve prepared the tips that would be useful for both types of students. They would help speed up writing a research paper and get astonishing results in less time.

So, how to write a sociological analysis paper? Start with understanding the purpose of this piece of writing first. You should understand that the research paper enables you to take a look at one sociology problem from different angles by analyzing different sources . This paper type should also have your own hypothesis and the evidence that proves or refutes the argument.

And you also have to think about sociology paper research methods as ways to transform the information you find into logically structured paragraphs. The fact is that each student has a clear goal associated with a phased analysis of topics and a comparison of facts. That is why you should forget about the methods section sociology research paper. How will you analyze the information? What approach will you take to collect statistics and compare them? You also have to understand how you interpret the data to make your ideas look solid.

All of the above aspects are important for your research methods section, regardless of your topic and goals, so you should not procrastinate. Another key element to a successful sociology paper is the organization of the writing process. Here is what we would recommend:

  • choose the subject of your research paper wisely - it should be interesting for you and have to give you space for quality research;
  • make sure you get the topic right - double-check with your instructor if you have some doubts;
  • do thorough research before writing - equip yourself with facts and other vital information you need to understand the topic better;
  • make notes when viewing works of scholars - to be able to stay focused on the things that are truly important in relation to this subject matter;
  • make an outline of your work before you proceed with writing - the outline would be your roadmap that would keep you on the right track;
  • mind the style and tone of voice - you should use academic language to write your research paper.

What Is the Right Format for Your Sociology Research Paper?

When formatting the document for the submission, you’ve got to know what style to use. APA is the commonly accepted formatting style for social studies, but mind that your instructor or the institution might stick to other guidelines.

Usually, students get instructions on how to format their research papers. These instructions include the use of the font, margins, line spacing, headlines, images, tables, and references. You should also know how to prepare the title page and use headers. So ask your professor if you are not sure how to format this or that element.

If you are looking for general sociological paper format rules, here are some recommendations for you:

sociology research paper writing

The Classic Outline of the Sociology Research Paper

The traditional sociology research paper outline involves structuring the paper through several logically arranged parts:

  • introduction;
  • conclusion.

And now, let’s take a closer look at these elements:

  • Every paper starts with an introduction. This section of the academic work contains information about the actualization of the problem you are going to discover and shows the knowledge background and findings of other scholars. Surely you can ask questions like, “How to write an introduction for a sociology research paper? Where to start as a beginner, and what nuances should be considered first? Start with some kind of writer’s hook or rhetorical question. You might even want to analyze a good sociology research paper introduction example before you start writing your paper from scratch. Such a strategy is most optimal for first-year students.
  • Then goes the body of the research paper. It usually comprises several sections, which are then broken down into sub-sections. They allow looking at the problem from different angles and making a thorough investigation. The body should have the arguments that prove the hypothesis. These can be the findings of other researchers or your own results. Just be careful and avoid copy-pasting in this section. If you cite any resource, paraphrase the idea and make reference to the source. Or use quotations if you would like to add the direct speech.
  • In conclusion, you should dwell on the results of the research. Here you state whether you succeeded with proving your hypothesis. Moreover, your conclusion paragraph for sociology research paper should introduce the solution related to your topic. Besides, you should form a springboard for possible further research. In a sense, you have to become a pioneer, opening the way for other researchers.

If you checked sociological research paper examples before reading this article, you most probably thought it was going to be a twofold assignment. On one side, for example, a sociological analysis paper seems very exciting and new. On the other side, though, the same assignment can confuse a student significantly. Still, no matter what type of research paper you need to complete, the first milestone for you to pass by will be the same: an outline.

Without a sociological research paper sample outline, it will be much more difficult for you to complete that long-distance run. Keep that in mind while reading the following article. It does not concentrate on explaining how to write sociology papers only but shows how to create a skeleton, a plan helping you to navigate through the assignment and complete it well.

Sociology Research Paper Example Outline

It will be spectacular to choose the most popular outline type for you to see the relevant example . Here below, you’ll see how to come up with a worthy outline through good sociology research questions suitable for any topic. In the following case, let’s choose the topic from the list shown above. Idea #9 suits perfectly.

sociology research paper writing

Sociology Research Paper Ideas: 10 Topics to Consider

Sociology is a fairly ancient science that focuses on the study of the life of certain communities and specific individuals. Moreover, this science implies the importance of structural functionalism and the social integration of each person into a common cultural environment. As you can imagine, finding brilliant sociology research paper topics is your priority, as you need to select a relevant area of research.

sociology research paper writing

Do not focus on minor events or global phenomena that are of no value to the scientific community. Your search for sociology topics for research paper packs should meet the general requirements of your professor. Try to focus on what you want to investigate or interpret to prove your position.

Commonly first-year students ask questions like, “What are good topics for a sociology research paper? How do I know that I made the right choice? Luckily, you don’t have to spend many years learning to choose good ideas. First of all, you should look at examples that will allow you to catch general trends. Here are good sociology research paper topics to help you stand out from the crowd.

Here are some topics for sociology papers you might want to consider when choosing your future research area. These ten sociology paper ideas touch on different aspects and problems of societies, including families, Internet groups, professional development, food, health, and more:

  • How Divorce Affects a Child
  • The Reasons for Social Media Popularity
  • Should Society Distinguish Professions for Men and Women?
  • Solving Sex Issues Among Teenagers
  • Fast Food and Its Effect on Society
  • Is Marriage Outdated?
  • The Role of School Teachers in Nurturing of Children
  • Patriotism: What Does It Mean?
  • Blogger: Is It a Profession?
  • Health Problems of Modern Societies and How to Solve Them

To Sum Up Sociology Research Paper Outline Writing

So, when you need to write a sociology research paper outline, it is worth taking your time and putting in enough effort to craft it well. It is an extended plan of your future assignment that will be extremely helpful if you want to make it straightforward, logically connected, and complete. That’s how you get your highest grade.

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How To Write A Sociology Research Paper

Haiden Malecot

Table of Contents

Sociology is one of the most important and interesting subjects in science. However, not only professionals can face this subject. Sociology is the subject that is included in the most popular programs in colleges and universities. So the probability that you will face some tasks connected with sociology in your student life is pretty high. Most likely, you will need to write some research papers for your sociological professors.

In case you have got your first sociological paper and you do not know how to start it, do not panic. With the help of our article, you will not only write your research but also learn praise from your teacher.

writing sociology papers

Structure of Sociology Research Papers

The structure of the sociological paper will not have a huge difference from the papers for other subjects. However, like any other subject, it will have its own essential requirements. When you start your sociological paper, you should build the structure of your research paper according to some academic requirements. Sociology is an exact science, so you have to be as attentive as possible to all the details. That’s why you will have to include a lot of statistics in it, however, about everything in order. First of all, let’s take a closer look at the structural parts of your future sociological research papers writing.


Like any research paper, your sociological writing should start with the proper introduction. The introduction is the part where you explain to your readers the reasons for your work. At the beginning of your research, you should outline the main questions, come up with a thesis statement of your work, and present to readers the literary base that was used. This paper is essential to the result of your work. Unfortunately, without the proper introduction, it will not be possible to create a successful paper.


A sociological paper will require from you a methodology based on your research paper. You should include in your paper a separate paragraph that will explain your approach to the subject of your research process. Also, it would add points to the whole score of your paper since you will explain in detail the methods that you used during your research process.

Literature and Sources

Your sociological paper should be based only on trusted and reliable literature. It’s an important part to add the sources that have been used during your research. You can include the paragraph regarding the literature as a separate section in your introduction, be sure that this will also add some points to your sociological performance. It’s not important to add dozens of different authors. Just add a few books or articles that helped you to write your paper.

Thesis Statement

Like any other research paper, your sociological work should include a thesis statement. For example, you’re making research on some sociological problem. In order to make it due to all academic requirements, the thesis should be included definitely. The thesis is the main idea of your work from which you will build the further structure of your research. It’s important to make your thesis short and clear, so it will be easy for readers to understand the purpose of your paper.

Body Of Your Paper

The body of your research work is a part where you will try to convince your readers to agree with your position. In the body of your sociological paper, you can include as many paragraphs as you want. Of course, it’s considered the most massive part of your research because here, you will back up your thesis with facts. Just try to write your paper in a way where with the help of arguments and facts, you are having a discussion. Approach this process creatively, and you will notice how much easier it will be for you to write your work.

The conclusion is the final culmination of your paper. In this section, you will have to sum up the whole research process. Here you need to restate your thesis statement and remind your readers of a few of your main ideas. Also, you can restate some main points of your paper and, in this way, repeat your idea and vision of the problem once again. But the main thing is that you should not contradict your own ideas in the final of your paper, so keep that in mind. The conclusion is the best way to make a ground for further research by asking some logical questions.


Once you complete your body and come up with a logical conclusion, it’s time to denote some resources. It’s crucial to mention all literature that you have used in your paper. Otherwise, if you do not add a link to some source, you may even get a lower score for plagiarism. The bibliography is an important part of your sociological paper research, so make it according to all academic requirements.

How To Make A Sociology Papers Format

If you used to start your paper by printing “ Write my research paper for me cheap” in Google, this section is for you. Writing the format according to requirements may be challenging. But no worries, after reading this section, there will be no need for you to seek help in some research paper writer services because you will be able to handle it all by yourself. However, let’s start with some typical research paper formats.

  • APA. ASA is one of the most common formats when it comes to research papers. Apa also will require you to write a little abstract regarding your paper. It should be included right after your title page. Due to this format, the abstract should be no more than 200 words. The APA format also requires a standard 12 or 14 pt with double spacing.
  • ASA. This format does not have a lot of differences from the previous paper format. However, there are a few of them. The most significant is in the title, where you should mention the count of words. So most likely, the difference between these two paper formats is in the visual part. And the other one, like the font size and style, is pretty similar.

These two styles are one of the most common styles in sociology research papers. However, they are not the only ones. Sometimes your teacher or professor can ask you to write the paper according to a completely different paper format. And in this case, you should follow the requirements that have been given to you. However, if you need to choose a format by yourself, you can definitely choose the format between these two. These formats are the best choice for your sociological papers, and you are sure that you won’t miss choosing one of them.

Sociology Research Paper: How To Choose Sociology Research Paper Topics

Choosing a topic for your research paper on sociology can be as difficult as making a research work itself. A lot of students make the same mistake every time. They do not take the process of choosing the topic of their work seriously. Most of the students prefer not to choose the topic at all. They rely on their teacher’s decisions and, after that, do not know what to do with the chosen topic.

In order to avoid this mistake and therefore not look for answers in the middle of the night on some research papers help portals, follow our tips, and everything will be just fine.

  • Choose according to your interests. When you choose your topic, remember that you will have to spend a lot of time on your research. That’s why it’s important to be interested in the chosen topic. Otherwise, you doom yourself to long and boring nights over a topic that is not at all interesting to you.
  • Draw attention to the literature. It’s also important to draw attention to the fact that there is enough literature on the topic you have chosen. Sometimes, you can choose the topic and notice that there is absolutely no information about the research topic. If you don’t want to start your own disquisition, it’s better to find a more popular topic for your research.
  • Discuss it with your supervisor. Once you come up with a topic, do not forget to discuss it with your teacher. Sometimes it may be shown that he is not an expert on the topic that you have chosen. So it’s better when your tutor is able to help you with his own experience. So take note to always ask your supervisor before the theme is approved.

Writing a sociological research paper may be challenging from time to time. However, nobody is saying that it’s impossible. With the right approach and a certain amount of diligence and perseverance, you will definitely succeed. And tips from our article will only make the research work easy and enjoyable for you.

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100+ Best Sociology Research Topics

29 Nov 2021

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What is sociology research paper, tips on how to choose a good sociology research topic, culture and society sociology research topics, urban sociology topics, education sociology research topics, race and ethnicity sociology research topics, family sociology research topics, environmental sociology research topics, crime sociology research topics, sociology research topics for high school students, sociology research topics for college students.

As the name suggests, Sociology is one topic that provides users with information about social relations. Sociology cuts into different areas, including family and social networks.

As the name suggests, Sociology is one topic that provides users with information about social relations. Sociology cuts into different areas, including family and social networks. It cuts across all other categories of relationships that involve more than one communicating human. Hence this is to say that sociology, as a discipline and research interest, studies the behaviour and nature of humans when associating with each other.

Sociology generally involves research. It analyses empirical data to conclude humans psychology. Factor analysis is one of the popular tools with which sociology research is carried out. Other tools that stand out are research papers.

Sociology research topics and research are deep data-based studies. With which experts learn more about the human-to-human association and their respective psychology. There are dedicated easy sociology research topics on gender and sociology research topics for college students. They are majorly passed on as a thesis. This article will consider Sociology Research papers and different types of essay topics relevant to modern times.

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Writing essays

A sociology Research paper or essay is written in a format similar to a report. It is fundamentally rooted in statistical analysis, Interviews, questionnaires, text analysis, and many more metrics. It is a sociology research paper because it includes studying the human state in terms of living, activity, couples and family association, and survival.

The most demanding part of a sociology research writing project is drafting a quantitative analysis. Many college projects and post-graduate theses will require quantitative analysis for results. However, sociology topics for traditional purposes may only need textual analysis founded on simple close-end questionnaires.

To write a sociology research topic, one will need to know the problem and how to get the needed solution. A sociology project must have a problem, a hypothesis, and the possible best solution for solving it. It must also be unique, which means it is not just a piece of writing that can be lifted anywhere from the internet. It is best to pay for a research paper founded on sociology to know how to create an excellent context matter or use it for your project.

It is one thing to understand the concept of a research topic and another to know how to write a sociology paper . There are processes and things that must be followed for a research paper to come outright. It includes researching, outlining, planning, and organizing the steps.

It is important to have a systematic arrangement of your steps. This is done in other to get excellent Sociology research topic ideas. The steps to getting perfect Sociology research paper topics are outlined below.

  • Choose a topic  that works with your Strength While it may be tempting to pick a unique topic, you should go for one that you can easily work on. This is very important as you will be able to provide a strong case. That is when dealing with a subject you understand compared to one that you barely know how works. Unless otherwise stated, always choose a topic you understand.
  • Pick a good Scope The next step you should take after selecting a topic is to narrow it to a problem or several related problems that a single hypothesis can conveniently encompass. This will help you achieve a better concentration of effort and give you a very strong ground as you know the direction of the research before you even start.

While these steps are significant, you should have a concrete understanding of sociology to craft a standard project. If that is a little complex for you, you should buy a research paper on sociology at affordable prices to get what you want. You can find several reliable service providers online.

Culture and society are the foundation of sociology research projects. Humans are divided into different cultures and are categorized into societies. There is a sense of class, status, and, sadly, race bias. Sociology paper projects usually focus on these metrics to understand why humans act the way they do and what is expected over the years.

This section will consider the best sociology research paper topics examples that you can work with.

  • The effect of cultural appropriation in the long term.
  • The effect of media on human attitude and behavior.
  • How political differences affect friendship and family relationships.
  • Important social justice issues affecting society.
  • Association between political affiliation and religion.
  • Adult children who care for their children while also caring for their aged parents.
  • Senior citizens who are beyond retirement age and still in the workforce.
  • The effect and evolution of cancel culture.
  • Public distrust in political appointees and elected officials.
  • The unique separation challenges that those who work from home face in their workplace.

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With immense progress in every sector and the continuous evolution of technology, the conventional and more conservative way of association is fading off. These days, almost every person wants to be associated with the urban lifestyle. This section considers Easy sociology research titles in urban lifestyles and what they hold for the future.

  • The human relationship and social media.
  • Characteristics of long-lasting childhood relationship.
  • Industrial Revolution and its impact on a relationship and family structure.
  • Factors that lead to divorce.
  • Urban spacing and policy.
  • Urban services as regards local welfare.
  • Socialisation: how it has evolved over time.
  • Infertility and its impact on marriage success.
  • Marginalised and vulnerable groups in urban areas.

Education is social. The younger age group of any society population is the target of sociology research. Most Sociology Research Topics on Education focus on how teenagers and young adults relate with themselves, modernized equipment, and the available resources.

Here are some topics on Education Sociology Research Topic:

  • The relationship between success in school and socioeconomic status.
  • To what extent do low-income families rely on the school to provide food for their children?
  • The outcome of classroom learning compared to homeschool pupils.
  • How does peer pressure affect school children?
  • To what extent do standardized admission tests determine college success?
  • What is the link between k-12 success and college success?
  • The role of school attendance on children's social skills progress.
  • How to promote equality among school children from economic handicap backgrounds.
  • The bias prevalent in the k-12 curricula approved by the state.
  • The effect of preschool on a child's elementary school success.

Race and ethnicity are major categories in sociology, and as such, there are many sociology research topics and ideas that you can select from. This section considers several race-based titles for research.

  • The race-based bias that happens in the workplace.
  • Pros and cons of interracial marriages.
  • Areas of life where race-based discrimination is prevalent.
  • Racial stereotypes have the potential to destroy people's life.
  • How does nationality determine career development?
  • Assimilation and immigration.
  • Voter's behaviour towards gender and race.
  • Gender and racial wage gaps.
  • As an American immigrant, how do I become a validated voter?
  • Underpinning ethics of nationality, ethnicity, and race.

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Medicine and Mental Health Sociology Research Topics

Medical sociology research topics ideas are among the more social science project work option available to social scientists. Society has always affected the growth of medicine and mental health, and some data back this claim.

There are many medicines & mental health Sociological Topics that you can work on, and the major ones are considered in this section.

  • The impact of COVID-19 on our health.
  • Is milk harmful to adults, or is it another myth?
  • Unhealthy and healthy methods of dealing with stress.
  • Is it ethical to transplant organs?
  • How do people become addicts?
  • How does lack of regular sleep affect our health?
  • The effect of sugar consumption on our health.
  • The effects of bullying on the person's mental health.
  • The relationship between social depression or anxiety and social media presence.
  • The effects of school shootings on students' mental health, parents, staff, and faculty.

Sociology research topics on family are one of the more interesting sociology-based topics that researchers and experts consider. Here are some topics in family sociology research topics.

  • How does divorce affect children?
  • The impact of cross-racial adoption on society and children.
  • The impact of single parenting on children.
  • Social programs are designed for children who have challenges communicating with their parents.
  • Sociology of marriage and families.
  • How to quit helicopter parenting.
  • The expectation of parents on the work that nannies do.
  • Should children learn gender studies from childhood?
  • Can a healthy kid be raised in an unconventional family?
  • How much should parents influence their children's attitudes, behaviour, and decisions?

This section considers sociology research titles on the environment

  • Should green energy be used instead of atomic energy sources?
  • The relationship between nature and consumerism culture.
  • The bias from the media during environmental issues coverage.
  • Political global changes are resulting in environmental challenges.
  • How to prevent industrial waste from remote areas of the world.
  • Utilising of natural resources and the digital era.
  • Why middle school students should be taught social ecology.
  • What is the connection between environmental conditions and group behaviour?
  • How can the condition of an environment affect its population, public health, economic livelihoods, and everyday life?
  • The relationship between economic factors and environmental conditions.

There are multiple Sociology research topics on crime that researchers can create projects on. Here are the top choices to select from.

  • The crime rate changes in places where marijuana is legalised.
  • How does the unemployment rate influence crime?
  • The relationship between juvenile crime and the social, economic status of the family.
  • Factors that determine gang membership or affiliation.
  • How does upbringing affect adult anti-social behaviour?
  • How does cultural background and gender affect how a person views drug abuse.
  • The relationship between law violation and mental health.
  • How can gun possession be made safe with stricter laws?
  • The difference between homicide and murder.
  • The difference between criminal and civil cases.

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High school students are a major part of sociology research due to the peculiarity of the population. Here are some topics in sociology research.

  • The effect of social media usage in the classroom.
  • The impact of online communication on one's social skills.
  • The difference between spiritualism and religion.
  • Should males and females have the same rights in the workplace?
  • How gender and role stereotypes are presented on TV.
  • The effect of music and music education on teenagers.
  • The effect of globalisation on various cultures.
  • What influences the problematic attitudes of young people towards their future.
  • The effect of meat consumption on our environment.
  • The factors contributing to the rate of high school dropouts.

Several sociology research topics focus on college students, and this section will consider them.

  • Immigration and assimilation.
  • Big cities and racial segregation.
  • Multicultural Society and dominant cultures.
  • College students and social media.
  • The role of nationalities and language at school.
  • School adolescents and their deviant behaviour.
  • Ways of resolving conflict while on campus.
  • Social movements impact the awareness of bullying.
  • The role models of the past decade versus the ones in recent times.
  • The effect of changes in the educational field on new students.

Sociology is a fascinating field of study, and there are plenty of compelling research topics to choose from. Writing an essay on sociology can be a challenging task if you don’t know where to start. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can always turn to a writing essay service for help. There are many services that offer professional assistance in researching and crafting a sociology essay. From exploring popular sociological theories to looking at current events, there are countless topics to consider.

This article has considered a vast Sociology research topics list. The topics were divided into ten different categories directly impacted by the concept of sociology. These topic examples are well-drafted and are in line with the demand for recent sociological concepts. Therefore if you seek topics in sociology that you would love to work on, then the ones on this list are good options to consider.

However, you need to understand the basics of draft sociology research to get the benefits of these topics. If that is not possible given the time frame of the project, then you could opt to buy sociology research on your desired topic of interest.

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10 Essential Tips for Successful Research Paper Writing.

A research paper is a piece of academic writing which involves an in-depth study of a research object or field. To gather this information, researchers conduct experiments or fieldwork and draw conclusions from it. Writing research papers is not exclusive to the natural sciences. Social scientists also rely on writing research papers to elucidate their thesis.

tips for research paper writing

Writing research papers is a daunting task. For many, it is their least favourite part of the process. Writing a research paper can be both time-consuming and challenging, but it is essential as it is the medium through which you can share your knowledge with others. Thus, it is important to hone your academic writing skills so you can convey your message in a manner that is comprehensible to others. To make the research paper writing process more manageable and efficient, consider seeking assistance from professional services like EssayPro .

We at Sociology Group aim to make the process of writing research papers a more manageable job than you might have previously thought simply by following these 10 valuable tips listed below!

  • Planning Your Research Paper

The first and foremost thing to do before you begin the writing process is to choose a topic based on the resources available to you. Your aim should be to contribute something novel to the academic world. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid topics that have been extensively researched unless you possess fresh insights to offer.

Once you have chosen your research topic, develop a clear research question. The purpose of a research question is to refine the scope of your study to a manageable size. Then, outline how you wish to go about conducting your research. This ‘plan’ is called a research methodology , which encompasses the selection of data collection techniques such as surveys, interviews, ethnography, etc. that will yield the most accurate results for your study.

2. Conducting Effective Research

An important aspect of data collection involves examining existing data. This not only helps to validate your findings but also highlights the area or branch of study where research is lacking. For instance, if your object of study is ‘cults’, the existing literature can highlight the scarcity of data available on the impact of entertainment-based cults, bringing a whole new field of investigation to light, and you can choose to contribute to it.

When searching for pre-existing literature on the object of your study, always look for reputable sources. Using unreliable sources of information will only hurt your reputation. If you are new to the field and you find yourself in trouble identifying which sources are credible, you can look for how many times the author was published or which publication house has published their work. You can also find out if the author is credible through a simple Google search. If you are unsure, you can always ask a trusted professional.

3. Structuring Your Paper

Once you have collected all the necessary data for your research, you can commence the writing process. A research paper is commonly structured into the following sections:

  • Abstract: An abstract typically spans no more than 300 words. It is a glimpse into your paper and not a summary, it shouldn’t reveal the contents of your work. Instead, its role is to entice the reader to delve deeper into your research.
  • Introduction: The introduction is where you explain the overarching goal of your paper. A good introduction is compelling.
  • Research Objectives: In this section, you can elaborate on your research question and the objectives you aim for in your paper.
  • Research Methodology: This includes detailing the methods that you have used to achieve the aforementioned research objectives.
  • Body: The body of your paper includes your findings and insights, serving as the substantive core of the research.
  • Conclusion: A conclusion encapsulates the key takeaways of your research. It should be concise and impactful. This is also the appropriate section to highlight the limitations of your research and outline your future work on the subject.
  • Bibliography: A bibliography is the list of sources you have referred to for your paper. These sources are generally arranged alphabetically.

4. Writing Tips for Clarity

The primary objective of your paper should be to convey your research in a manner that is relevant to your readers. Using jargon and complex terminologies defeats the purpose. It is likely that certain members of your readership who are not accustomed to the terms you have used will feel alienated, consequently, losing interest in your work.

It wasn’t until the Enlightenment period that the scientific community started writing for the masses. If your goal is to reach a diverse readership, use a straightforward approach. Write clearly and refrain from using too many compound sentences. Ensure that your research paper maintains a logical flow.

5. Citations and References

Citations and references are perhaps the most important aspect of any form of writing. You must attribute proper contributions to the authors whose work you have relied on for your study. If you fail to do so, you will likely be accused of plagiarism which is a legal offence. Most universities and organisations have a percentage outlined for how similar your work can be. It is good advice to look for these specific guidelines before submitting your paper.

When referencing the works of other authors, choose one citation style for both in-text citations and the bibliography. For instance, if you have used APA (American Psychological Association) style for in-text citations, make sure that your bibliography is also well-formatted in the same style. To maintain accuracy, use only the latest edition of a citation style.

6. Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are integral to the writing process. You may already know filmmakers edit scenes in post-production to bring out their best version. It may not always fit the director’s vision of the film but they do so to maintain certain standards in the film industry. Likewise, editor-in-chiefs of publishing houses also follow the same process. They review the contents of books, magazines, or articles before publishing. Your role as an author of a research paper is more or less the same.

Before you submit your paper, you should go through multiple rounds of revision to look for any potential mistakes. These errors could be factual, grammatical, or spelling. The power of revision cannot be overstated. It can safeguard you from embarrassing mistakes. You will be surprised to find out how many errors you have overlooked in your first revision.

Once you have revised your paper and made the necessary edits to adhere to the specific submission guidelines, you can seek feedback from your peers and mentor to incorporate in your work.

7. Overcoming Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a phase in one’s writing journey when they are unable to create meaningful content for an indefinite period. It happens to the best of us, and it is quite normal to feel a sense of panic. If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, step back from working on your research paper. Meanwhile, you can engage in other forms of writing practices such as journaling, making lists, or noting anything that comes to your mind. It need not make sense. You can also try to figure out what triggered your block. Identifying the underlying cause can help you overcome and prevent it.

In case you are in a time crunch, you can also consider working on different parts of your paper separately, knowing you can piece them together when you have overcome the block. However, you should not force yourself into writing, let it come to you naturally.

8. Maintaining Ethical Standards

When embarking on an academic endeavour, it is essential to uphold the principles of academic integrity. These principles are honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. They should be at the core of your practice, guiding your actions, and your treatment of other’s contributions to the field. It also includes avoiding manipulation and fabrication of data to cater to your personal needs. This commitment to maintaining the ethical standards of academic work is crucial to your prosperity.

9. The Final Check

Before submitting your paper, you should review the specific guidelines of the institution or organisation you are submitting to. Check for the required font, font size, line spacing, margin, and the format in which you are supposed to make your submission.

Ensure that you have incorporated the feedback that you have received from your peers and mentor. Also, check for the overall coherence of the paper. Once you have revised your research paper for the final time, you can proceed with the submission.

10. Preparing for submission

The satisfaction that comes with completing a research paper is immense. After all, it is no ordinary feat. However, your writing journey doesn’t end here. In order to improve your writing skills, you need to keep practising.

Research ideas can come from anywhere. You can work on any feasible idea that comes to your mind and even consider publishing it. You need not wait for another conference or seminar to write a research paper. You can also practise by reading and writing analytical essays for your enrichment.

We are hopeful that the tips that we have provided will prove fruitful in your writing journey. We encourage all aspiring researchers to apply these tips and embark on their endeavours. Through determination and perseverance, you can refine your craft.

Also Read: 7 Tips for Editing a Research Paper After Writing

sociology research paper writing

Rifah Sharmeen is a sociology student at the UoD. Her determination to unravel the intricacies of the criminal mind has driven her to pursue a master's degree in criminology.

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Top Most 240+ Interesting Sociology Research Topics Ideas

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What is Sociology Research?

Sociology research systematically studies social behavior and relationships between people, organizations, and societies. It is based on theories and methods from the social sciences, such as anthropology, psychology, economics, and political science. Sociologists use a combination of methods to collect data, including surveys, interviews, field observations, and statistical analysis. The goal of sociology research is to understand the patterns and dynamics of social life and to identify and analyze the forces that shape social change.

Sociology Research Topics

How to Write a Good Sociology Research Paper?

A sociology research paper is one of the most challenging research papers to write. It requires a lot of research and understanding of the subject. Due to the complexities of the subject, it is often difficult for students to come up with a good research paper assignment help at Casestudyhelp.com. This article will provide tips on writing an effective sociology research paper.

  • Choose a topic: The first step in writing a good sociology research paper is to choose a topic that interests you and is appropriate to your course. Ensure that the topic you select is narrow enough.
  • Research : Once you have chosen your topic, begin researching it. Make sure that you are using trustworthy sources such as peer-reviewed journals, books, and other scholarly sources.
  • Develop an argument : Once you have done your research, develop an argument or thesis statement that you can use to guide your paper.
  • Outline : Create an outline for your paper that will help you manage your thoughts and ideas.
  • Write : Once you have your outline, begin writing your paper. Make sure that your paper is clear and well-organized.
  • Edit and revise : After finishing your paper, review it and make any necessary changes or revisions.
  • Final draft : After you have made all the necessary changes, submit your final draft for grading.

Also Read:   Struggling with Research Paper Writing? Get 8 Basic Steps and Help!

Top 240+ Best Sociology Research Paper Topics Ideas of 2023

Top sociology research topic ideas.

  • The Impact of Social Media on Social Interactions
  • The Changing Dynamics of Gender Roles in Society
  • The Impact of Immigration on Society
  • Race and Ethnicity in Society
  • The Effects of Poverty on Education
  • The Impact of Religion on Society
  • Exploring the Relationship between Social Class and Health
  • The Influence of Media on Youth
  • The Impact of Technology on Social Interaction
  • The Changing Role of Marriage in Society

Culture and Society Sociology Research Topics

  • Exploring the Impact of Social Media on Culture and Society
  • The Role of Gender in Modern Culture and Society
  • The Impact of Immigration on Society and Culture
  • Exploring the Influence of Religion on Society and Culture
  • Examining the Effect of Technology on Society and Culture
  • Understanding the Role of Media in Contemporary Culture and Society
  • Assessing the Impact of Globalization on Culture and Society
  • Exploring How Education Shapes Culture and Society
  • Examine the Effects of Social Stratification in Society and Culture
  • Analyzing the Impact of Social Movements on Culture and Society

Mental Health-Related Sociology Research Ideas

  • How does poverty affect mental health?
  • What role does stigma play in mental health diagnoses and treatments?
  • What impact do social media have on mental health and well-being?
  • How do mental health disparities affect access to services?
  • How is mental health services utilized in different cultures?
  • How does the built environment impact mental health?
  • How do discrimination and marginalization affect mental health?
  • What is the impact of the criminal justice system on mental health?
  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected mental health?
  • How does gender intersect with mental health?

Health and Wellness Sociology Papers Topics

  • The Impact of Social Media on Health and Wellness
  • How Societal Attitudes Shape Health and Wellness
  • Exploring the Role of Health Care Systems in Health and Wellness
  • Examining the Role of Gender in Health and Wellness
  • The Influence of Race and Ethnicity on Health and Wellness
  • Analyzing the Effects of Poverty on Health and Wellness
  • Understanding the Role of Education in Health and Wellness
  • An Exploration of the Relationship Between Culture and Health and Wellness
  • Investigating the Role of Stress in Health and Wellness
  • Examining the Impact of Technology on Health and Wellness

Medical Sociology Research Topics

  • The Impact of Social Networking on Mental Health
  • Exploring the Role of Technology in Health Care Delivery
  • The Relationship between Social Class and Access to Quality Health Care
  • The Impact of Religion on Health Outcomes
  • The Effects of Cultural Norms on Health Behaviors
  • The Role of Gender in Health Care Decision Making
  • Exploring the Influence of Race on Health Care Access
  • The Impact of Poverty on Health Outcomes
  • Examining the Differential Effect of Health Insurance on Access to Care
  • The Impact of Environmental Factors on Health Outcomes

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Sociology Research Paper Topics for College Students

  • The Impact of Social Media on Modern Social Interaction
  • Exploring Gender Inequality in Education
  • The Role of Technology in Education
  • The Impact of Immigration on Social Structure
  • The Impact of Globalization on Social Inequality
  • Exploring Racial Inequality in the Workplace
  • The Relationship between Social Class and Crime
  • The Impact of Social Movements on Social Change
  • Exploring the Impact of Media on Social Interactions

Sociology Research Paper Topics for Students

  • The Impact of Social Media on Society
  • The Role of Gender in Socialization
  • How Technology is Changing Social Interactions
  • The Relationship Between Social Class and Crime
  • The Impact of Religious Beliefs on Social Interactions
  • The Effects of Immigration on Social Structures
  • The Influence of Social Media on Political Activism
  • The Effects of Social Media on Social Movements
  • The Part of Social Media in Conflict Resolution

Sociology Research Topics on Human Rights

  • How Are Human Rights Violations Enforced?
  • How Do Human Rights Affect Domestic and International Politics?
  • The Impact of Human Rights on Health Care Access
  • The Impact of Human Rights on Education
  • The Role of Technology in Addressing Human Rights Abuses
  • The Impact of Social Media on Human Rights Violations
  • How Do Cultural Norms Impact Human Rights?
  • The Impact of Economic Development on Human Rights
  • The Role of Activism in Advancing Human Rights
  • How Are Human Rights Defined in Different Cultures?

Sociology Research Topics on Family

  • How has the definition of family changed over time?
  • How does family structure influence educational outcomes?
  • How does family structure impact mental health?
  • What are the results of single parenting on children?
  • What are the consequences of divorce on children?
  • How do cultural norms impact family dynamics?
  • How do same-sex parents influence child development?
  • How does religion influence family life?
  • What is the effect of technology on family relationships?
  • How does poverty impact family dynamics?

Sociology Research Topics on Interpersonal Communication

  • How does technology affect interpersonal communication?
  • How does body language influence interpersonal communication?
  • What is the relationship between gender and verbal communication?
  • How does culture influence the way people interact?
  • What are the outcomes of social networking on interpersonal communication?
  • How does social media use affect face-to-face communication?
  • What is the impact of nonverbal communication on relationships?
  • How is the language used to build relationships?
  • What are the differences between online and offline communication?
  • How do people use communication to maintain relationships?

Sociology Research Topics on Music, Art and Culture

  • How does popular music affect the identity formation of young people?
  • What is the role of art in conveying social messages?
  • How does cultural expression vary among different ethnic groups?
  • How does hip-hop music reflect the values of its audience?
  • What impact do celebrities have on youth culture?
  • How does technology shape the way we experience music?
  • How has the rise of social media impacted the way we consume art?
  • How has the globalization of music impacted the traditional music of different cultures?
  • What is the role of culture in promoting social change?

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Sociology Research Topics on Food and Nutrition

  • Exploring the Impact of Local Food Movements on Community Health
  • Understanding the Role of Nutrition Education in the Prevention of Childhood Obesity
  • An Analysis of the Relationship Between Food Insecurity and Mental Health
  • Exploring the Role of Fast Food Consumption in the Rise of Chronic Disease
  • Investigating the Impact of Food Deserts on Health Outcomes
  • Analyzing the Relationship Between Income and Nutrition
  • Examining Food Labeling Practices and Their Impact on Consumer Behavior
  • Investigating the Role of Food Advertising in Childhood Obesity
  • Exploring the Social Implications of Genetically Modified Food
  • Investigating the Impact of Food Waste on the Environment

Sociology Research Topics on Environment

  • How Has the Environmental Movement Impacted Policy Development in the 21st Century?
  • How Does Climate Change Impact Communities Around the World?
  • Are Renewable Energy Sources a Sustainable Alternative to Fossil Fuels?
  • How Can Sustainable Agriculture Practices Reduce Environmental Pollution?
  • What Are the Social and Economic Costs of Air Pollution?
  • What Role Does Gender Play in the Perception of Environmental Issues?
  • How Can Behavioral Changes Reduce Carbon Emissions?
  • What Are the Effects of Mass Extinctions on Biodiversity?

Sociology Research Topics on Health and Medicine

  • The Role of Health Insurance in Access to Healthcare
  • The Impact of Social Media on Health Behaviors
  • Exploring the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Communities
  • Studying the Impact of Poverty on Health Outcomes
  • Exploring the Effects of Drug Abuse on Society
  • Investigating the Effects of Unhealthy Eating Habits
  • Examining the Role of Genetics in Health and Illness
  • Investigating the Impact of Technology on Physician-Patient Relationships
  • Analyzing the Effects of Healthcare Policy on Accessibility
  • Examining the Impact of Climate Change on Human Health

Sociology Research Topics on Youth Culture

  • Investigating the Rise of Social Media and its Impact on Youth Culture
  • Analyzing the Impact of Technology on Youth Culture
  • Exploring the Effects of Music on Youth Culture
  • Assessing the Impact of Social Media on Youth Politics
  • Examining the Influence of Globalization on Youth Culture
  • Investigating the Relationship Between Popular Culture and Youth Identity
  • Analyzing the Effects of Consumerism on Youth Culture
  • Investigating the Impact of Social Class on Youth Culture
  • Examining the Role of Sports in Youth Culture
  • Exploring the Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health

Sociology Research Topics on Gender, Nationality and Race

  • The Impact of Gender on Educational Outcomes
  • How Race Influences Employment Opportunities
  • Exploring the Gender Wage Gap
  • The Socioeconomic Impact of Immigration
  • Gender-based Discrimination in the Workplace
  • The Impact of Race on Criminal Justice Outcomes
  • Exploring the Effects of Gender-Based Harassment
  • Gender Representation in Politics
  • The Impact of National Origin on Educational Attainment
  • Exploring Racial Segregation in Schools

Sociology Research Topics on Social Media and Mass Media

  • Examining the Effect of Social Media on Interpersonal Communication
  • How Social Media Influences Consumer Behavior
  • How Mass Media Shapes Public Opinion
  • Exploring the Influence of Social Media on Mental Health
  • The Effect of Social Media on Interpersonal Relationships
  • Examining the Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem
  • Analyzing the Role of Mass Media in the Public Perception of Social Issues
  • Investigating the Impact of Mass Media on Political Decision Making
  • Analyzing the Impact of Fake News on Social Media
  • The Impact of Social Media on Advertising and Marketing Strategies

Sociology Papers on Drugs and Crime Topics

  • The Effectiveness of Drug Treatment Programs in Reducing Crime behavior
  • The Impact of Drug Use on Neighborhoods and Communities
  • Exploring the Relationship between Drug Use and Recidivism
  • The Economic and Social Costs of Drug Use and Crime
  • Examining the Impact of Drug Education on Crime Prevention
  • Exploring the Relationship between Drugs and Gangs
  • The Role of Race in the War on Drugs
  • The Impact of Drug Prohibition on Crime
  • Exploring the Link between Drug Use and Mental Illness

Sociology Papers on Education Topics

  • The Impact of Technology on Education
  • Exploring the Digital Divide in Education
  • Understanding the Role of Schools in Socialization
  • Analyzing the Gender Gap in Education
  • Examining the Influence of Race and Ethnicity on Learning
  • Analyzing the Effects of Poverty on Education
  • Investigating the Impact of Media on Education
  • Understanding the Impact of Education on Social Mobility
  • Exploring the Role of Parents in Education
  • Examining the Link Between Education and Health Outcomes

Relationship-Related Sociology Research Topics

  • The Role of Gender in Interpersonal Relationships
  • The Impact of Technology on Social Connectedness
  • Social Networks and Mental Health
  • The Effects of Parenting Styles on Interpersonal Relationships
  • Social Support Networks and Mental Health
  • The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Interpersonal Relationships
  • Gender roles and family dynamics in different cultural contexts.
  • The Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem

Sociology Research Topics on Race and Ethnicity

  • The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Social Stratification
  • Exploring Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Education
  • The Impact of Immigration on Racial and Ethnic Identities
  • The Effect of Race and Ethnicity on Health Care Access
  • The Racialization of Crime: Examining Intersections of Race and Police Brutality
  • Exploring Intersectionality of Race and Gender
  • Examining the Role of Racial Profiling in Policing
  • The Impact of Race and Ethnicity on Social Movements
  • Exploring Racial and Ethnic Segregation in U.S. Cities

Sociology Research Topics on Crime

  • The Relationship between Income and Crime: A Quantitative Study
  • Gangs and Their Impact on Local Communities
  • The Impact of the Criminal Justice System on Minority Groups
  • The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Criminal Activity
  • Juvenile Delinquency: Causes, Effects, and Solutions
  • The Impact of Economic Inequality on Crime
  • Cybercrime: Its Impact and Prevention
  • The Social and Economic Consequences of Domestic Violence
  • The Impact of Drug Abuse on Society
  • The Impact of Police Brutality on Civil Rights

Sociology Research Topics on Religion

  • How Does Religion Influence Political Ideology?
  • The Impact of Religion on Gender Roles and Gender Equality
  • The Relationship Between Religion and Mental Health
  • Religion and Social Stratification
  • The Role of Religion in Education
  • How Religious Beliefs Shape Social Movements
  • The Role of Religion in Conflict Resolution
  • The Changing Role of Religion in Contemporary Society
  • Analyzing the Role of Religion in Social Stratification.
  • How Social Structures Affect Religion and Religious Practices

Urban Sociology Research Topics

  • The Impact of Gentrification on Urban Neighborhoods
  • The Social Effects of Urban Renewal and Redevelopment
  • The Role of Urban Education in Social Mobility
  • The Role of Social Networks in Urban Poverty
  • The Impact of Immigration on Urban Communities
  • The Impact of Urban Sprawl on Local Economies
  • The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Urban Life
  • The Social Effects of Homelessness in Urban Areas
  • The Impact of Technology on Urban Life
  • The Relationship between Crime and Poverty in Urban Areas

Rural Sociology Research Topics

  • The Effect of Climate Change on Rural Areas
  • The Role of Technology in Rural Communities
  • The Social and Economic Effects of Rural Migration
  • Community Development in Rural Areas
  • The Impact of Globalization on Rural Economies
  • Agricultural Practices in Rural Areas
  • The Challenges of Rural Education
  • Health Care Access in Rural Areas
  • Gender and Rural Development

The Bottom Line

Research Paper plays a vital role in achieving a good academic score. It has great importance in school and college and throughout your life. It certainly is an accomplishment and works like a feather in the hat for further education and future opportunities. You haven’t enough time to do your research-based tasks. Moreover, you want to make your Sociology Research Paper effective without any errors. Don’t Worry! Meet Our Experts, who are well aware of the research paper criteria. They can suggest the best topic for your research because the topic selection is the major part of the research paper. You can get assistance from Experience MBA/Master/PhD Experts at Casestudyhelp.com .

Author Bio:

Louis Hill

Hi, I am Louis Hill, the author of this blog. I am a well-experienced academic writer. We’ll help make your writing shine.

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  1. PDF A Guide for Junior Papers and Senior Theses

    Introduction Congratulations! As you begin to read this handbook, you are initiating the process ofconducting original research worthy of fulfilling the university's independent research requirements for sociology: a junior paper for juniors, and a senior thesis for seniors.

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    A sociology research paper is a specially written composition that showcases the writer's knowledge on one or more sociology topics. Writing in sociology requires a certain level of knowledge and skills, such as critical thinking and cohesive writing, to be worthy of great academic recognition.

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    The academic environment is a writing-intensive environment, and during your college years you will be asked to write dozens of assignments|from brief response papers to essay exams to full-edged research papers. We ask you to write because we want you to learn a skill that you will need in the fu-

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    Sociology 91r, an independent reading and research course, with a Sociology faculty member. This is a one semester course resulting in a smaller research paper, but it gives you the experience of independent work and provides an alternative way to tie together what you have learned as a Sociology concentrator.

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    Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Psychology Writing Center. University of Washington; Denscombe, Martyn. The Good Research Guide: For Small-Scale Social Research Projects. 5th edition.Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 2014; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

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    Writing Your Sociology Research Paper; Cultural Anthropology; Writing Guides Writing in Sociology. Created by The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this handout discusses scholarly research and writing in sociology, with helpful hints. APA Guide for Walters State Students ...

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    This handout provides guidelines for writing a formal research paper in the social sciences. Although it is a type of research paper, the process is not the same as writing a research paper for an English or history class. In fact, a formal research paper is much more similar to a formal lab report for a chemistry or biology class. The ...

  13. How to Write Sociology Papers

    1. Select a topic early. Start thinking about topics as soon as the paper is assigned and get approval of your topic choice from the professor before starting the research on the paper. When choosing a topic, think critically. Remember that writing a good sociology paper starts with asking a good sociological question. 2.

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    Before choosing a topic of your sociology paper, look through sociology topics for a research paper or sociology paper topics. Try to state your argument in the first paragraphs. Make a sociology research paper outline before starting writing the first pages of your work. Introduction and conclusion parts are the most significant paragraphs.

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    A sociology research paper is a type of academic assignment dedicated to sociological phenomena, theories, or processes. It may also research some social group or movement, depending on your course and area of interest. The key difference between an essay and a research paper is the depth of insight.

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    To Sum Up Sociology Research Paper Outline Writing. So, when you need to write a sociology research paper outline, it is worth taking your time and putting in enough effort to craft it well. It is an extended plan of your future assignment that will be extremely helpful if you want to make it straightforward, logically connected, and complete.

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    Sociology Research Paper: How To Choose Sociology Research Paper Topics. Choosing a topic for your research paper on sociology can be as difficult as making a research work itself. A lot of students make the same mistake every time. They do not take the process of choosing the topic of their work seriously.

  21. 100+ Best Sociology Research Topics [2023]

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