Public Sociology/Applied Sociology Concentration

The public sociology/applied sociology concentration focuses on the ways in which sociological knowledge and research can be applied in real life situations. Public sociology takes sociological knowledge outside the academy to work with various “publics” to define social issues or social problems and possible ways of responding to them through a dialogue between the public and the sociologist. Applied sociology, which is usually defined as “sociology in the service of a goal defined by a client,” falls within the umbrella of public sociology. Michael Burawoy, former president of the American Sociological Association, writes that “public policy strikes up a dialogic relation between sociologist and public in which the agenda of each is brought to the table, in which each adjusts to the other” (2005:9).

Students in this concentration will learn to apply their sociological knowledge to real-life situations and will have the opportunity to apply their training in research methods and data analysis to assess and find solutions to problems in society. In addition, civic engagement projects, community involvement and internships will enable students to directly engage with publics while providing opportunities for students to use their sociological knowledge and research skills to help respond to social issues and impact public policy. This concentration prepares students for careers in the area of interest or for graduate study in public or applied sociology or a policy area of their interest.