Sociology explores the social world around us, investigating the social, political, and economic institutions that shape our lives. Students are encouraged to develop a “sociological imagination,” a term coined by sociologist C. Wright Mills that refers to "the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society." Students are thus challenged to think critically about assumptions concerning the social world and their place in it. Sociologists pay particular attention to inequalities and inequities—those constructed around race and ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, sexuality, and others—and their role in social institutions and the experiences of individuals.
Sociologists in the department focus on a variety of such institutions, including education, family, political economy, and government action—for example, immigration or health policies. The department offers courses focused on the United States and on communities in other parts of the world, as well as transnational communities. In required and elective courses, sociology majors develop an understanding of the significant concepts, theories, and methodologies that form the core of the discipline. Through coursework and independent research, students develop a critical perspective on the evidence used to understand the world, developing skills in collecting, analyzing, and evaluating empirical data.
In sociology courses, students will have the opportunity:
- To develop and use a sociological imagination to understand the social world.
- To understand the role of theory in sociology and be able to apply theoretical frameworks to build sociological understanding of the social world.
- To understand, evaluate, and employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods and data used by social scientists.
- To develop knowledge of inequalities, power, and privilege in society and across the globe.
- To develop skills that allow the use of sociological knowledge and perspectives in future endeavors, public engagement, and social change.
Options for Majoring and Minoring in the Department
Students may elect to major in sociology or to coordinate a major in sociology with digital and computational studies, education, or environmental studies. Students pursuing coordinate majors may not normally elect a second major. Non-majors may elect to minor in sociology.
This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue