About Emory Sociology
Emory Sociology is a vigorous community of scholars. We engage in cutting-edge research, take pride in excellent teaching, and actively contribute to the University and wider community. Read below to learn about the following:
Three things stand out about our faculty regarding research and teaching.
First, we collectively cover a broad range of topics within sociology while also drawing upon interdisciplinary insights to enrich our sociological approach. That sociological approach includes a rigorous linking of theory and empirics -- both in our research efforts and in our classroom instruction. The figure below captures but a portion of all the topics we address.
Second, although we have much collective breadth in terms of our faculty interests, we also cohere around four key topics depicted prominently above. These four topics also stand at the core of the sociological discipline.
- We describe and explain how culture is “organized” –- such as patterns of aesthetic tastes among socioeconomic classes across time and place; patterns in the diffusion of value-systems (“cultural repertoires”) among nations and amidst ongoing globalization; the collective memories created by groups and nations that, in turn, shape their identities; and access to specialized knowledge, including that involving Internet usage. Put another way, we treat “culture” as collective cognition.
- We describe and explain how social and cultural factors impinge upon health. Thus, we complement a strictly biological approach by showing how socioeconomic class, education, religion, etc. matter for differential access to healthcare, for longevity, for mental health, and for the onset of various maladies (e.g., diabetes), practices (e.g., smoking), and for well-being.
- We describe and explain inequality while attending to its social context. For instance, we hone in on how racial, ethnic, and gender inequality play out similarly and differently across various labor markets -– delving into why returns to education experienced by women and minorities are greater in some labor markets than in others. We also address how class, race and ethnicity shape access to the political and financial systems -- with differential access mattering greatly for the positive life chances of some (e.g., whites, middle class) and the negative life chances of others (e.g., people of color, working class).
- We approach social psychology by describing and explaining how individual-level processes arise and unfold -– such as the development of an identity (and the memories that entails); the assessment of what is fair, just, and legitimate; and the evaluation of who and what is worthy. In doing so, we complement the work of those in psychology by interrogating and demonstrating how small groups and ongoing social interaction contribute greatly to these individual-level processes.
Thirdly, our faculty stand out by avoiding common "silos" found within Sociology -- wherein scholars focusing on one topic from a particular vantage point may be unaware of the advances made on that topic by sociologists who employ a different vantage point.
Hence, not only do we emphasize interdisciplinarity, we also emphasize the exciting overlaps that are now enlivening Sociology.
For example, medical sociology has benefited greatly from looking at the overlaps between health and inequality. Those inequalities we often document in terms of race, ethnicity, class, and gender also "get into" people in terms of their metabolism, health outcomes, and well-being. Likewise, those focusing on cognition are now finding that the overlaps between culture and social psychology help ground micro-level processes in a broader macro-level context and vice versa. Put another way: identity happens both within small groups and within the broader context in which those groups are located (e.g., neighborhoods, nations).
Given such examples, we have built much of our curriculum around the overlaps occurring across the study of culture, health, inequality, and social psychology. Hence, we ask that our graduate students specialize in terms of combining two of the topics listed below (e.g., social psychology and health, culture and inequality).
Our undergraduate program aims to provide a challenging introduction to the discipline as part of a first-rate liberal arts education while also exposing students to the research environment found at a top-tier university.
We prepare students for a range of careers, as well as for future graduate and professional study. We are committed to undergraduate teaching, and our undergraduate program features:
- small classes
- award-winning teachers
- a wide range of courses
- a curricular emphasis across our classes on imparting social science research skills to our students
- an active internship program
- opportunities for research with faculty and graduate students (SRA)
- the SouthEastern Undergraduate Sociology Research Symposium (SEUSS)
- a Summer Study Abroad Program on Health Care in London
The last three items on this list deserve special mention. SRA (Sociology Research Apprenticeship) allows majors to be involved in ongoing sociological research conducted by Emory Sociology faculty and doctoral candidates. Not only learning about the nitty-gritty aspects of social research, those undergraduates participating in SRA have also contributed to projects that yielded scholarly publications.
If SRA provides a window into social research, SEUSS (the Southeastern Undergraduate Sociology Symposium) provides an annual opportunity for our students to present publicly the research that they themselves have conducted under the guidance of Emory Sociology professors.
Finally, Comparative Health Care Systems (SOC 390) is our own summer study-abroad course, which lasts for 5 weeks in London. Among other things, students in that course collectively collect and analyze a survey that addresses the health care experiences of Londoners.
Our graduate program prepares outstanding new scholars for productive careers, both within and beyond academia. Our graduate program provides:
- solid foundation in methods, statistics, and theory
- a low student-faculty ratio
- full funding for five years, including tuition waiver and a stipend
- an extensive teacher training program and opportunities to teach independently
- excellent facilities
Emory Sociology has long been marked by collegial and collaborative relationships between graduate students and faculty members. Indeed, we encourage our faculty to co-publish with students so as to mentor them in the research process and to introduce them to the journal / book review system.
Easy access to faculty members is especially key because, Emory Sociology faculty are well-connected to the discipline, and are also intellectual leaders.
As of 2021, our faculty collectively serve on 20 editorial boards, and they have served previous terms on even more editorial boards. Moreover, three journals have formerly been housed at Emory Sociology, which is unusual for a faculty of our size. This occurred when Socio-Economic Review was edited by Alexander M. Hicks (2002-2006 ), when Social Psychology Quarterly was edited by Karen Hegtvedt (2010-2014) and Cathryn Johnson (2010-2013), and when Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research for Culture, the Media and the Arts was edited by Timothy J. Dowd (2010-2014). This leadership likewise benefits graduate students by connecting them to the latest scholarly developments.
By virtue of our location, Emory Soc graduate students are able to draw on a range of resources in the University and Atlanta area, incuding:
- African American Studies
- Candler School of Theology
- The Carter Center
- The Center for Civil and Human Rights
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS)
- Goizueta Business School
- The James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference
- The Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change and
- Rollins School of Public Health
- Quantitative Theory and Methods