Our department features a wide range of faculty research interests including Culture, Education, Ethnicity, Race, and Racism, Gender and Sexualities, Human Rights, Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility, Globalization and Immigration, Political Sociology, Social Movements, Social Demography, Sociology of Religion, Urban and Community Studies, Work and Labor Markets.
The sociology of culture focuses on meanings and practices and their relationships to social structures and processes. Faculty study cultural industries, symbolic boundary work, high and popular culture, as well as urban, evaluative, and political subcultures. The department’s strength in culture lies partly in its diverse theoretical, analytical and methodological approaches. Historical research that examines cultural factors of taste formation, urban regimes, and institutions is complimented by ethnography, interview-based research, and textual analysis to highlight the intersections of culture, religion, race, and everyday politics.
The sociology of education considers the ways in which formal schooling influences individuals and the ways society affects educational institutions. Faculty examine education in its social context, including the relation between education and political and economic systems, the role of education in social and cultural reproduction, and the production of learning and other outcomes in schools. In addition, other areas include the multilevel analysis of the effects of schools, policy analysis in education, the sociology of teaching, and race, gender, and class differences in educational achievement.
Ethnicity, Race, and Racism
The examination of race, ethnicity, and racism focuses on conflict, domination, prejudice, discrimination, and oppression. Questions guiding the scholarship of ethnicity have traditionally emphasized how “new” groups’ migration into well-established social systems are constrained and enabled, while scholarship on race and racism focuses on race as an ideology used to stratify, legitimate, and rationalize unequal group relations. Through a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches, faculty answer the questions of why systemic racism persists and how racial oppression and ethnicity shape identity, institutions, worldviews, and life chances.
Gender and Sexualities
Research in this area focuses on organized patterns of gendered and sexualized social relations and on the social construction of gender and sexuality as fundamental bases of inequality and stratification. Gender and sexuality are examined as categories that determine the division of labor, patterns of conversation, inequities in education and employment, and overall socialization. Faculty employ various theories, including feminist and intersectional paradigms, as well as consider a broad array of substantive issues, including the economy, education, family, face-to-face interaction, identity politics, judicial systems, and political processes, among many others.
Human rights scholars capture people's struggles in the face of injustice. We interrogate the perpetrators, institutions, and practices that seek to deprive people of their fundamental humanity. Alongside our award-winning work on human rights in the United States , the department specializes in transnational feminist and human rights activism, human rights in the United States, gender, sexuality, and human rights, and refugees and humanitarianism. Ours is a leading department in the discipline for work on human rights. Sociologists at UCONN form part of a vibrant multidisciplinary community anchored in the University's Human Right Institute, the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and the UNESCO Chair in Comparative Human Rights.
Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility
The study of inequality, poverty, and mobility deals with socioeconomic conditions that determine people’s life chances in society and result in wide variations in class, status, power, privilege, disadvantage, and oppression as well as patterns of upward or downward movement in these characteristics. Emphasis is placed on the economic, social and cultural forces which generate and perpetuate unequal distribution of resources and rewards as well as those organizational and institutional contexts in which they occur such as families, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, the state, and civil society. Our faculty conduct research on all these topics in contemporary, historical, and comparative perspective.
Globalization and Immigration
Research on globalization and immigration centers on economic, cultural, and political interdependencies between nation-states, as well as, group processes of integration, competition, and exploitation. Research examines globalization and international migration as social phenomenon fostered by international trade and innovations in information technology, communication, and travel, which is promoted and managed by international institutions, multinational corporations, national governments, international nongovernmental organizations, and even individuals with access to the Internet.
Political sociologists study the ways in which the distribution of power in society shapes and is shaped by economic inequality, political processes, institutions, ideology, and the state. Political sociology is a broad subfield, but a core question involves how institutions of power shape and frame structured systems of oppression and inequality. Some scholars analyze trends in public attitudes toward public issues, and the influence of public opinion on policymaking. Still others focus on how political cultures and collective identities shape understandings of citizenship and the nation. Political sociologists at UConn pursue these questions through cross-national comparative studies, statistical analysis, historical analyses, and ethnographic research.
Social movements and collective protest have centered around some of the most contentious political issues of our time, providing a voice for many who seek to promote or resist social change. Social movements scholars consider the conditions under which people come together to collectively challenge powerful elites, institutions, and cultural norms. They study how social movements maintain commitments in the face of challenges, and why their efforts sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. They examine the political and cultural constraints on mobilization and claims-making, the development of collective identities, and the ways in which movements interact with other actors within a range of institutional settings. UConn faculty members have won awards for their research in social movements and have expertise in a wide variety of social movements, within the US and around the world.
Social Demography is the study of the ways environmental, economic, political, and cultural factors influence, and are influenced by migration, fertility (births), aging, mortality (deaths), and morbidity (disease). Social Demography seeks to understand the causes and consequences of population change and population health. Although Social Demography is a discipline in its own right, it is heavily interdisciplinary, drawing from fields such as economics, epidemiology, and geography.
Sociology of Religion
The sociology of religion examines how religious practices, institutions, discourses, and beliefs influence social life and, conversely, the role social forces play in the historical and contemporary development of religion. Faculty in this area study religion from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Major research topics include: religious identity formation, religion-based social movements and subcultures, the influence of religion on important social institutions such as politics and the workplace, the place of religious meaning and experience in peoples’ everyday lives, and the ways religious talk, practices, and symbols enter into public life.
Urban and Community Studies
Rooted in some of the earliest work in sociology, urban and community studies encompass a vast range of sociological topics and social science methodologies. General areas of research include the spatial structuring of social interaction and community life; the nexus between global forces and local issues; human interfacing with natural and built environments; urban culture; the political economy of place making; racialized group conflict; urban, suburban, and rural inequalities; and community activism and civic participation. Empirical research often involves qualitative and quantitative analyses on groups living, working, and communicating within and across a diverse array of physical, institutional, organizational, and virtual contexts.
Work and Labor Markets
The sociology of work and labor markets deals with the labor market contexts, organizational structures, social relations, and normative codes that characterize the behaviors, experiences, and identities of people during their working lives. Topics of study include industrial transformation and technological change at work; the culture of the workplace; the characteristics of workers’ jobs (such as skill requirements, autonomy, closeness of supervision, and alienation), the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards of work; the role of class, gender, race, and ethnicity in shaping the allocation of workers into jobs; labor conflict and the labor movement; flexible work arrangements; and precarious work.