Sociology is the study of individuals and groups in their environments and how societies have evolved over time. Sociologist Jim Heslin explains the study of sociology as examining the social context in which people live. Sociologists investigate how jobs, income, gender, age, race, and ethnicity affect people’s behavior. Because of the broad nature of the study, choosing a sociological topic for research can take you in many directions. It is helpful to understand the basic divisions of discipline to help you make your choice.
Culture and socialization
The study of culture and socialization involves comparing different cultures and how individuals are socialized to behave within that culture. For example, socialization is how people learn the norms and values of their society, which are dictated by their culture. Some possible research topics in this area might be: Does gender socialization of children differ between urban and rural families in the United States? This topic is broad, but may focus on investigating the origins of some gender behaviors, such as career choice or school performance. The study of culture can also incorporate pop culture, its influences and how it affects groups and individuals. This is often a popular topic among students, as it can include musical genres, subcultures, television, and movies. Many students choose these topics because they find that they can easily relate to them.
Marriage and family
Family sociologists study the dynamics of dating, marriage, and other romantic relationships. The study of marriage and the family also includes styles of paternity, adoptive families and divorce. Popular research topics in this area are marriage and communication, cohabitation (couples living together but not legally married) and online dating. One possible research work in this area could be: How did the appearance of online dating have changed the dynamics of relationships? Another possible idea might be: How do parent-child relationships differ between families with married parents versus families with cohabiting parents?
Gender and sexuality
The sociological study of sexuality and gender generally incorporates gender identity, sexual identity and how gender roles affect individual and group behavior. Sociologists generally argue that gender is a learned social behavior, whereas sexuality is biological in nature. That is, the gender learned is when a girl is taught what behaviors are socially acceptable to them. Their sexual identity, however, may differ, since it is considered an internal force that can not be easily changed by behavior. Some possible topics for this area of study may be: how gender dictates career choice in today’s women compared to 1960. This area of study also extends to discussions of the experiences of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Race and ethnicity
The sociological study of race and ethnicity involves discussions about diversity, global patterns of relationships between groups, minority and dominant groups, racial and ethnic identity, and prejudice and discrimination. This area can also encompass immigration, migration and the individual and group experiences of the immigrant family. This is a wide area of study and there are a multitude of research topics that come from this division of discipline. The most popular topics among students are: Do interracial couples experience more adversity in rural or urban areas? O Do racial and ethnic prejudices extend to the generations that have lived the successful social movements?
The study of aging is often associated with the care of the elderly and the experiences of the old in social and group systems. This area also includes discrimination against the elderly and representation of the elderly in popular culture. Many of the discussions about the old ones include health care and sexual behaviors in the elderly communities. Some possible ideas for research topics might be: How do the images of elderly men portrayed in popular culture differ from images of the elderly? Another possible topic of choice could be: Exploring relationships between the children of World War II veterans, their elderly parents and their children.
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