What is it? / Goals

What is Sociology

It's About Us

There are over 40,000 species of social animals on this planet - one of which is us. Sociologists seek to understand humans as social creatures, and the society in which they must live: our social behaviors, the institutions and culture we create, the way these things create us, the nature of social change, the problems societies and individuals have and how they are related to each other.

It's a Science

Anyone can try to guess how society works, or speculate on how to solve social problems. This is done all the time by different people. From classrooms to barrooms, and in the mass media, supposed experts and authorities offer simple solutions to complex problems. But Sociology is especially suited to answering tough questions about society because it is a science - an approach that tests proposed explanations by investigating facts from the real (social) world. In completing an education in sociology, you will learn what others have discovered, but also how to study society yourself.

It's a Broad Field

"The sociologist will occupy himself with matters that others regard as too sacred or as too distasteful for... investigation. He will find rewarding the company of priests or of prostitutes... He will be interested in the human interaction that goes with warfare or with great intellectual discoveries, but also in the relations between people employed in a restaurant or between a group of little girls playing with their dolls."

Peter Berger, "Invitation to Sociology"

Sociologists study the intimate family as well as the hostile mob, crime and conflict as well as the shared culture and stable institutions that bond us together. Our topics can be serious, like poverty and racism, or popular and trendy, like sports and sexuality. We can narrow our focus to the level of the individual, interpersonal interaction, and social psychology - or take several steps back and view differences across cultures, social change, and the structure of entire societies.


ECU's Sociology Department

Sociable Sociologists

The faculty of the ECU Sociology Department see the small size of the department (three full-time professors) as a strength. Students can get to know all of us quickly, and relationships - both between faculty and between faculty and students - tend to be friendly and informal.

A Popular Major

But don't be fooled by our size: Sociology draws large numbers of majors and minors, and classes fill up quickly (don't worry, there's always extra room for majors). Students enjoy the wide variety of courses offered each semester, and the interesting manner in which faculty present material. Perhaps the most common compliment we get is that the department comes across as a warm, sociable place - and that faculty are friendly and approachable.

Official Goals

The official goals of the Sociology Program are:

  • to contribute to the university's general education program by offering three key optional courses in that program: Introductory Sociology, Social Problems, and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.

  • to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology

  • to contribute to a variety of other baccalaureate and graduate programs in the university, and

  • to contribute to the advancement of the discipline of sociology in particular and to the advancement of knowledge in general


 American Sociological Association