Sociologists and anthropologists study the social structures and cultural categories that form the basis for collective life. We examine the order and meaning in human societies as well as the contradictions that produce patterns of conflict and change. Large forces for social reproduction—economic and technological transformations, political upheavals, cultural change, race and gender relations, deviance and social control, communicative practices, social movements, and inequality—are the focus of our department. SOAN students explore these themes in the classroom and through fieldwork and independent research.
Sociology and Anthropology are distinct disciplines engaged in a common intellectual purpose: to analyze individual experiences and place them in a social and cultural context. For example, we view matters that are often perceived as "personal problems" as the consequence of dynamic historical, cultural, social forces. The goal of sociology and anthropology is not merely to acquire knowledge about how society works, but to critically engage with the complexities of social life. Understanding these dynamics is essential for anyone who would like to evaluate the world we live in and to promote social change.