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Submitted by sandra.grills2 on Mon, 03/21/2016 - 10:54am

Undergraduate Contact Information

Undergraduate Studies Director: 
Dr. Ariel Ducey

Undergraduate Program Advisor:

Law and Society Program Coordinator: 
Dr. Ted McCoy

Sociology Students’ Association:


What is sociology?

Sociology emerged in the nineteenth century as an attempt to understand the transition from traditional to modern society. We are now living in a period of equally radical change and, once again, we are faced with the need to understand how social change affects us.  Sociology contributes to this understanding by studying how groups, organizations, societies, and their cultural products are produced, reproduced and transformed by the actions and interactions of people in particular social contexts.

What do sociologists study?

 Sociologists study the ways in which social structures, social processes and cultural products constrain and enable human behavior.  Some focus on face-to-face interaction in everyday life using biographies, narratives and life stories to explore issues of self-identity, trust, risk and embodied aspects of the self.  Other sociologists explore the relationship between social processes and individual lives by studying the institutionalized aspects of social life.  

Sociologists ask how class, gender, race, ethnicity, age and geographic region affect access to scarce resources like wealth, income, power and prestige as they explore the nature and operation of the social institutions (ie:  families, economic, educational, political, and legal institutions) that constitute Canadian and other societies.  Sociologists can also demonstrate the need to link global and local levels by studying contemporary world inequalities and their implications for life in high, middle, and local income societies.

Sociology combines the rigour of a scientific discipline with a concern for social relevance.  Thus sociology is more than just a set of ideas - it is a practice.

Why take this program?

Challenging old ideas:  Exploring social life at every level, from face-to-face interactions to global social processes increases our understanding of our own society.  Through sociology, we can challenge assumptions about the social world, understand social phenomena from multiple perspectives and develop our awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity within our own society and the great world.  Knowing how the past shapes current societies also helps us understand how our present actions shape the future, giving us the ability to make better choices now for a better informed tomorrow.

Practice makes perfect:  The Sociology program at the University of Calgary strives to cultivate students' sociological imaginations by offering a wide range of opportunities to think sociologically and to use different theoretical approaches, research methods and data-analysis techniques so students gain experience performing sociological practices.  In transforming the classroom into a more student-centred and discussion-oriented environment, the program also promotes co-learning, critical thinking, effective communication, team skills and adaptability - strengths that many potential employers look for in graduates.

Building a better future:  The realization that we have a voice in changing our society, awareness of social life's complexity, recognition of the world's increasing globalization and appreciation of how our knowledge about the  (often unintended and unrecognized) consequences of human action can shape the future are central to the practice of sociology.  These sociological insights help us understand why structured inequalities, discrimination and persistent poverty are so difficult to eliminate.

Honours: The Honours program in Sociology provides undergraduates with an opportunity to study intensively in a sub-discipline that they find compelling.  It offers students with above average ability a challenging and invigorating learning environment that exposes them to the demands of rigorous intellectual research.  They work closely with a faculty member who assists them to develop their research, technical, writing and analytical skills and abilities.

Co-op:  Get a competitive edge when you enter the workforce after graduation with our Co-operative Education program.  This combines 4-8 month work terms with your undergraduate studies in Sociology.  Co-op is a great way for you to gain work experience before you graduate, and gain valuable contacts in your industry of choice.  For more information on Co-op, visit the Co-op and internship website.

How do we study our own society?

Exploring social life at every level increases our understanding of our own society.  To move back and forth from the intimacies of domestic life to the world system of societies, sociologists engage research methods, including large-scale surveys using questionnaires or interviews, smaller-scale interactional research, the analysis of historical and cultural artifacts (such as documents, diaries and correspondence, and social media), observational field work, and experiments in laboratories.  Because ‘facts do not speak for themselves’, sociologists use data analytic techniques to analyze their results.

How is Sociology a scientific discipline?

Like other scientists, sociologists use empirical research to generate new ideas and to assess old ideas.  In sociology, the rigor of a scientific discipline is connected to a concern for social relevance.  Like their nineteenth-century counterparts, contemporary sociologists emphasize the emancipatory potential of thinking sociologically.  Societies are products of the actions and interactions of individuals. Sociologists remind us that individuals are important agents of change. Recognizing that we can have a voice in changing our society is central to the practice of sociology.  So is an awareness of the complexity of social life and recognition of the increasing globalization of the world in which we live. 



Sociology is…. 


  •  making sense of the world by formulating theories and relying on empirical evidence to support and challenge ideas about social life.   





  • understanding contemporary social phenomena by looking back to their origins and to the processes that brought them about. 





  •  understanding contemporary society by comparing different groups of people, engaging in the comparative study of social institutions and linking global and local levels.



  •  grasping the critical nature of sociology and its practical relevance for producing change by recognizing that in human society knowledge has practical consequences.