About the Department

Fields shaped by the Department of Sociology include urban studies, global studies, race, education, economic sociology, organization,  demography, ethnography, survey research, and computational sociology.. Faculty and students in Department today – diverse in their interests, methodologies, theories, and politics – are not only heirs of the earlier Chicago Schools of Sociology, but a vibrant community actively creating the new approaches in the UChicago tradition. Department faculty and students are united in their intensity of intellectual commitment, in their embrace of rigorous inquiry with mutual intellectual respect, and in their goal to deploy sociological frameworks and understanding across a wide array of social phenomena.

MAPSS Support for Sociology

Approximately 40 MAPSS students concentrate in Sociology or in closely-related disciplines each year. In addition to the many methods courses offered in the Sociology department, MAPSS faculty teach Involved Interviewing, the Survey Research Overview, Data Analysis and Statistics, Ethnographic Methods, and Coding and Analyzing Qualitative Data. 

Preceptors provide advice on course selections, faculty advisors, and thesis projects. Assistant Instructional Professor and MAPSS preceptor Marshall Jean has studied the effects of ability grouping and tracking in schools on student learning behaviors, the effects of student mobility on academic outcomes, and racial discrimination in housing appraisals. He teaches courses in sociology, data science, and education policy. Assistant Instructional Professor and preceptor Brianne Painia studies black femininities and masculinities, black feminism, and black religion with an emphasis on gender performance within black religious spaces. She teaches courses on the topics of race, critical theory, and qualitative methodology. 

Recent MAPSS graduates have gone on for the PhD in Sociology at Duke University, UChicago, and the University of British Columbia, among others.

Recent Sociology Classes Taken by MAPSS Students

A full list of graduate courses is available here.

SOCI 30291. Contemporary Social Theory. This course explores how contemporary theorists and those interested in a theoretical sociology, anthropology or related fields think about societies, how they rearranges themselves, and how social and cultural forms and relations can be analyzed. It addresses connections that transcend national borders and connections that require us to dig deeper than the person and look at the brain. We address different theoretical traditions, including those attempting a diagnosis of our times, and mechanism theories. The overall focus is on defining and agenda setting paradigms in the second half of the 20th century and some new 21st century theorizing. Karin Knorr Cetina, Otto Borchert Distinguished Service Professor

SOCI 30298. Schooling and Social Inequality. How and why do educational outcomes and experiences vary across student populations? What role do schools play in a society's system of stratification? How do schools both contribute to social mobility and to the reproduction of the prevailing social order? This course examines these questions through the lens of social and cultural theory, engaging current academic debates on the causes and consequences of social inequality in educational outcomes. We will engage these debates by studying foundational and emerging theories and examining empirical research on how social inequalities are reproduced or ameliorated through schools. Through close readings of anthropological and sociological case studies of schooling in the U.S, students will develop an understanding of the structural forces and cultural processes that produce inequality in neighborhoods and schools, how they contribute to unequal opportunities, experiences, and achievement outcomes for students along lines of race/ethnicity, class, gender, and immigration status, and how students themselves navigate and interpret this unequal terrain. We will cover such topics as neighborhood and school segregation; peer culture; social networks; elite schooling; the interaction between home, society and educational institutions; and dynamics of assimilation for students from immigrant communities. Lisa Rosen, Senior Lecturer

SOCI 30326. Digital Ethnography. How can one complete an ethnographic project during a pandemic? What does it mean to do participant observation online? What changes when interviews move to a digital format?  This methods course prepares graduate students for ethnographic research in an online environment. We will discuss practical steps to put together a research project—from research design to data collection and analysis. We will cover epistemological, ethical, and practical matters in online ethnographic research, and read articles and books showcasing methods for the study of virtual worlds (both game and nongame). Students will be required to formulate a preliminary research question at the beginning of the course and will conduct a few weeks of ethnographic research in a virtual field site of their choosing. Each week students will produce field notes to be exchanged and discussed in class, and as a final project they will be asked to write a research proposal or a short paper based on their observations. This is an online course which features a blend of synchronous discussions and asynchronous ethnographic assignments. Cate Fugazzola, Assistant Senior Instructional Professor

SOCI 50122. Theories of Race and Racism. This course is designed for to provide an overview of sociological perspectives on race and racism in the US. While we will read classic and contemporary theory and research on race in the United States, our focus will be on getting up to date on the contemporary state of the study of race and racism in sociology and closely related fields. Throughout, our goal will be to consider race both as a source of identity and social differentiation as well as a system of privilege, power and inequality affecting everyone in society, albeit in different ways. By taking up several important debates in the literature, the course will offer you a solid entry point into the study of race and racism in the US. Joyce Bell, Associate Professor


Students are invited to participate in a program of Graduate Workshops in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, a series of interdepartmental discussion groups that bring faculty and advanced graduate students together to discuss their current work.