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Emeriti: (Professors) Joseph Berger, Bernard P. Cohen, Sanford M. Dornbusch, James G. March, John W. Meyer, W. Richard Scott, Nancy B. Tuma, Morris Zelditch Jr.

Chair: Andrew Walder

Professors: Karen Cook, Mark Granovetter, David Grusky, Michael T. Hannan, Douglas McAdam, Susan Olzak, Cecilia Ridgeway, Gi-Wook Shin, C. Matthew Snipp, Andrew Walder, Xueguang Zhou

Associate Professors: Shelley Correll, Michael Rosenfeld

Assistant Professors: Corey Fields, Tomás Jiménez, Paolo Parigi, Aliya Saperstein, Cristobal Young

Courtesy Professors: Glenn Carroll, Michele Landis Dauber, Larry Diamond, Clifford J. Nass, Walter Powell, Francisco Ramirez, Jesper Sorensen, Sarah Soule

Courtesy Associate Professors: Prudence Carter, Daniel McFarland, Sean Reardon, Mitchell Stevens

Courtesy Assistant Professor: Christine Min Wotipka

Lecturer: Patricia Chang

Consulting Professor: Ruth Cronkite

Visiting Associate Professors: Eva-Maria Meyersson Milgrom, Patricia Thornton

Department Offices: Building 120, Room 160

Mail Code: 94305-2047

Phone: (650) 723-3956

Web Site:

Courses offered by the Department of Sociology are listed under the subject code SOC on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

Sociology seeks to understand all aspects of human social behavior, including the behavior of individuals as well as the social dynamics of small groups, large organizations, communities, institutions, and entire societies. Sociologists are typically motivated both by the desire to better understand the principles of social life and by the conviction that understanding these principles may aid in the formulation of enlightened and effective social policy. Sociology provides an intellectual background for students considering careers in the professions or business. Students may pursue degrees in sociology at the bachelor's, master's, or doctoral levels. The department organizes its courses by areas of study to assist students in tailoring their education and research to their academic interests and career goals.


The mission of the undergraduate program in Sociology is to provide students with the skills necessary to understand and address social problems and inequalities in global, institutional, and interpersonal social relations. At its core, the curriculum in the major is rooted in social theory and the scientific method. Sociology majors are given opportunities to develop a broad understanding of core sociological theories and the methodological skills used to evaluate human behavior and social organizations. Sociology provides an intellectual background for students considering careers in business, social services, public policy, government service, international nongovernmental organizations, foundations, or academia.

The Sociology major consists of a core curriculum plus elective courses intended to provide breadth of exposure to the variety of areas encompassed by sociology.


The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  1. an understanding of core knowledge within the discipline of sociology.
  2. the ability to communicate ideas clearly and persuasively in writing.
  3. the ability to analyze a problem and draw correct inferences using qualitative and/or quantitative analysis.
  4. the ability to evaluate theory and critique research within the discipline of sociology.


The Department of Sociology offers three types of advanced degrees:

The department does not have a terminal M.A. program for external applicants.


The Department of Sociology specializes in four general areas of study, allowing students to tailor their education and research to their academic interests and career goals. The four areas of study supported by the department are:

Organizations, Business, and the Economy

Focus is on the arrangements which societies construct for the provision of material goods or services. A formal organization which provides goods or services for profit and sells them through a market is called a business, and the economic system is capitalism. Social needs are also met through government and not-for-profit organizations, such as garden clubs, hospitals, prisons, and the Red Cross; some private and social needs are met outside of organizations, such as health care provided by family members and exchange of favors among friends. Courses stress the factors that determine whether needs that people define are met through markets or non-market allocation, through organizations, or by other means. They also investigate the environmental and technical factors that shape organization structure, the determinants of how efficiently organizations operate, and the interpersonal processes that shape individual behavior within organizations. Careers related to this field include management and administration in business or public settings, management consulting and analysis, and legal studies related to corporations, organizations, and business.

Social Movements, Comparative Politics, and Social Change

Focus is on the emergence, reproduction, and change of political systems and institutions, especially on why and how different political systems and social movements appear in different times and places, and how differences in political regimes and economic systems influence attempts to change these systems. The origins and significance of national and transnational social movements, transition to democracy, including revolution, nationalism, and other forms of collective action, in creating and sustaining these changes analyzed across countries and over time. Careers that are relevant to this field include law, public policy, government service, nonprofit and international nongovernmental organizations, business organizations (especially those with international interests), consulting, and managerial jobs.

Social Psychology and Interpersonal Processes

Focus is on the social organization of individual identity, beliefs, and behavior, and upon social structures and processes which emerge in and define interpersonal interactions. Processes studied include social acceptance and competition for prestige and status, the generation of power differences, the development of intimacy bonds, the formation of expectation states which govern performance in task oriented groups, and social pressures to constrain deviance. Foundation courses emphasize the effect of social processes on individual behavior and the analysis of group processes. This field provides training for careers with a significant interpersonal component, including advertising and marketing, business, education, law, management, medicine and health, or social work.

Social Inequality

Focus is on forms of social inequality, including fields such as: the shape and nature of social inequalities; competition for power; allocation of privilege; production and reproduction of social cleavages; and consequences of class, race, and gender for outcomes such as attitudes, political behavior, and life styles. Many courses emphasize changes in the structure of social inequalities over time, and the processes which produce similarities or differences in stratification across nations. Topics include educational inequality, employment history, gender differences, income distributions, poverty, race, and ethnic relations, social mobility, and status attainment. Careers related to this field include administration, advertising, education, foreign service, journalism, industrial relations, law, management consulting, market research, public policy, and social service.

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