Sociology is the scientific study of the development, structure, and processes of human society. It uses systematic methods to examine and explain the social world by careful and objective analysis of human behavior. Sociologists focus on the actions, beliefs, values, norms, organizations, institutions, and other social forces that characterize a society and shape people's lives. To study all of these factors, sociologists use a variety of theoretical perspectives and scientific methods including surveys, interviews, and observation.
By carefully collecting and analyzing this information, sociologists produce explanations of how our social world works and how it influences our personal lives. This has turned sociology into a useful tool for solving social problems such as crime, discrimination, poverty, inequalities, etc. Sociological research often helps business and labor officials, community organizations, educators, policymakers, public and private admininstrators, and the general citizenry to understand and solve problems that confront society on local, national, and international levels.
Students who study sociology are generally interested in human behavior, the human condition, and social justice. They want to know more about the cultural dynamics, institutions, norms, organizations, roles, structures, values, and other social forces that define societies. They are curious about how societies work and why they often do not.
The program is designed to provide the student with 1) a broad general knowledge in several areas of the discipline; 2) special skills in analyzing, generating and defending approaches to the subject matter of sociology; and 3) an opportunity to pursue in-depth research on a topic of interest to the student, leading to the preparation of a thesis.
Close interaction with working sociologists on the faculty is central to the student's education throughout the period of study. The tutorial program aims to give the student thorough preparation for advanced training in sociology, allied fields, or public service careers. Primarily a liberal studies program in conception, the tutorial program introduces the student to basic research findings, thought processes, analytic skills and current theoretical questions in sociology.
A broad exposure to current research and theoretical materials is provided by the tutorials; comprehension will be assessed through written assignments, seminar meetings, and/or examinations. The faculty tutor meets at least weekly with the student for discussion and to plan the direction of further study. During the first year students complete tutorials that provide a comprehensive introduction to sociology and its sub-disciplines, such as crime/ deviance, gender studies, social inequality, or social change.
During the second year students take tutorials in methods and theory. Topical tutorials are taken in the third year in subfields of sociology.
The fourth year is devoted to the development of a thesis. With the agreement of a faculty member, and with the authorization of the director of studies and the Dean of the Honors Tutorial College, a student may take additional specialized tutorials during the second and third years of the program.
While the basic goal of the program is acquisition of sociological knowledge, students are also expected to develop one or more "tool skills" and to choose collateral courses in other social sciences, humanities or natural sciences. "Tool skills" include preparation in a foreign language and/or mathematics, statistics or computer science. Collateral courses may be undertaken in such fields as anthropology, economics, geography, philosophy, history, linguistics, psychology, or political science. Additional electives may be chosen by the student in consultation with the director of studies in Sociology.
Applicants are selected on the basis of superior academic ability and the potential for self-motivated undergraduate study and research. Two teacher recommendations are strongly recommended.
Director of Studies
Associate Professor, Dr. Ted Welser
Bentley Annex 123
Ph.D.: University of Washington, 2006
- Social Structure and Group Processes
- Social Media and Computer Mediated Interaction
- Research Methods
- Social Implications of Technological Change
Welser, Howard T. 2014. “Breaking the iron law of oligarchy: Computational institutions, organizational fidelity, and distributed social control.” Edited by Elisa Bertino and Sorin Adam Matei, Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (pp. 121-144) New York: Springer Publishing.
Robbins, Blaine, Howard T. Welser, Maria Gregoriya, and Eric Gleave. 2014. “Power-use in cooperative competition: A power-dependence model and an empirical test of network structure and geographic mobility.” Social Science Research. 45:131-151.
Welser, Howard T. 2012. “The growth of technology and the end of wilderness experience.” Edited by Bruce Martin and Mark Wagstaff, Controversial Issues in Adventure Programming, (pp. 147-155) Champaign IL: Human Kinetics Publishing.
Black, Laura W., Howard T. Welser, Dan Cosley and Jocelyn M. DeGroot. 2011. “Self-governance through group discussion in Wikipedia: Measuring deliberation in online groups.” Small Group Research. 41(5):595-634.
Brooks, Brandon, Howard T. Welser, Bernie Hogan, and Scott Tittsworth. 2011. “Socioeconomic status updates.” Information, Communication and Society. 14(4):529-549.
Welser, Howard T., Dan Cosley, Gueorgi Kossinets, Austin Lin, Fedor Dokshin, Geri Gay, and Marc Smith. 2011. “Finding social roles in Wikipedia.” (pp. 122-129). In ACM proceedings of iConference 2011, Seattle, WA.
Underwood, Patrick and Howard T. Welser. 2011. “‘The Internet is here’: Emergent coordination and innovation of protest forms in digital culture.” (pp. 304-311). In ACM proceedings of iConference 2011, Seattle, WA.
Welser, Howard T., Patrick Underwood, Dan Cosley, Derek Hansen, and Laura Black. 2010. “Wiki-networks: Connections of creativity and collaboration.” Derek Hansen, Ben Shneiderman, & Marc Smith (Eds.), Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL, (pp. 248-271). New York: Morgan Kaufmann.
Welser, H. T., Lento, T, Smith, M. A. Gleave, E., & Himelboim, I. (2008). “A picture is worth a thousand questions: visualization techniques for discovery in computer mediated interaction.” Nicholas Jankowski (Ed.), e-Research: Transformations in Scholarly Practice. (ch.10). London: Routledge.
Lento, Thomas, Eric Gleave, Marc Smith, and Howard T. Welser. 2008. “Some users pack a Wallop: Measuring the impact of core users on the participation of others in online social systems.” ICWSM ‘08, April 1-2, 2008, Seattle, WA, USA. (Poster)
Welser, H. T, Smith, M. A. Gleave, E., & Fisher., D. (2008). “Distilling digital traces: Computational social science approaches to studying the internet.” In N. Fielding, R. L. Lee and G. Grant (Eds.), Handbook of online research methods. (pp 116-140). London: Sage Publications.