Skip to main content



“The difficulty, in sociology, is to manage to think in a completely astonished and disconcerted
way about things you thought you had always understood” Pierre Bourdieu



Magnifying glass with people

SOCIOLOGY is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies and how people interact within these contexts. Since all human behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob; from organized crime to religious traditions; from the divisions of race, gender and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture. (21st Century Careers with an Undergraduate Degree in Sociology, 2014)

Sociology is the scientific study of human behavior in society.  It uses a variety of research and theoretical perspectives to analyze and explain human social behavior and social change.  Sociology students examine a wide range of human interactions including marriage and family units, crime and deviance, culture and social change, group processes and interactions having to do with class, race and gender; diversity and globalization, social stratification and mobility and social movements.  Program courses will help develop the student’s ability to examine the broader connections between personal life, public issues and social structure.


  1. Jane Addams (1860-1935): Addams was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She founded the Hull House in Chicago.
  2. Harriet Martineau (1802–1876):  was a prominent British writer and political activist, and one of the earliest Western sociologists and founders of the discipline
  3. W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963 :  was an American sociologist best known for his scholarship on race & racism  in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. He was the first African-American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University and served as the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910.
  4. C. Wright Mills (1916–1962):  is known for his controversial critiques of both contemporary society and sociological practice, particularly in his book "The Sociological Imagination  (1959).
  5. Patricia Hill Collins (born 1948) : U.S. She is a ground-breaking theorist and research in the areas of feminism and race and is most well known for popularizing the theoretical concept of intersectionality. Some of the most widely read are "Black Feminist Thought," and the article "Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought," published in 1986.
  6. Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002) was a French sociologist and philosopher who contributed a great deal in the areas of general sociological theory and the link between education and culture. He pioneering terminologies such include habitus, symbolic violence, and cultural capital, and he is known for his work titled "Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste."
  7.  Charles Horton Cooley (1864–1929):  best known for his theories of "The Looking Glass Self" in which he declared that our self-concepts and identities are a reflection of how other people perceive us.
  8.  George Herbert Mead (1863–1931):  known for his theory of the social self, which is based on the central argument that the self is a social emergent. He pioneered the development of symbolic interaction perspective  and developed the concept of the "I" and "Me." He is also one of the founders of social psychology.
  9.  Erving Goffman (1922–1982) was a significant thinker in the field of sociology and in particular the symbolic interaction perspective. He is known for his writings on the dramaturgical perspective and pioneered the study of face-to-face interaction. His notable books include "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life," and Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity." 


Source: Crossman, Ashley. "Famous Sociologists." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021,

  • Rev. Martin Luther King
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Emily Balch, 1946 Nobel Peace Prize winner
  • Richard Barajas, Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court
  • Michelle Obama, lawyer and First Lady of the United States

Sociology provides a valuable major for a diverse range of career paths including teaching, social work, probation officer, employment counseling, urban planning and others. See list below of some of the careers in Sociology:

Business and Industry

  • advertising staffer
  • banker
  • computer analyst
  • consumer relations worker
  • control engineer
  • data entry manager
  • human resources manager
  • insurance agent
  • issues manager
  • labor relations staffer
  • market analyst
  • merchandiser/purchaser
  • planning assistant
  • production manager
  • project manager
  • public relations staffer
  • publishing staffer
  • quality control manager
  • real estate agent
  • recruiter
  • sales representative/manager
  • technical writer
  • telemarketer
  • trainer
  • training assistant


Community and Social Services

  • case manager
  • caseworker/aide
  • child care worker
  • child development technician
  • community aide
  • community organizer
  • environmental organizer
  • family planning worker
  • fund raising assistant/director
  • group home worker
  • homeless/housing worker
  • hospital administrator
  • housing coordinator
  • medical records worker
  • occupational/career counselor
  • public administration assistant
  • public assistance worker
  • public health supervisor
  • recreation worker
  • rehabilitation program worker
  • resident planning aide
  • rural health outreach worker
  • substance abuse counselor
  • youth outreach worker



  • admissions counselor
  • affirmative action assistant
  • alumni relations worker
  • college placement worker
  • extension service specialist
  • public health educator
  • student personnel worker
  • teacher



  • affirmative action worker
  • employee specialist
  • foreign service officer
  • human rights officer
  • information officer
  • international worker
  • legislative aide
  • peace corps volunteer
  • personnel coordinator
  • program supervisor
  • special agent
  • urban planner


Justice System

  • correctional counselor
  • corrections officer
  • corrections staffer
  • criminal investigator
  • juvenile court worker
  • parole officer
  • police department staffer
  • police officer
  • rehabilitation counselor
  • special agent state troop



  • census research assistant
  • consumer researcher
  • criminology assistant
  • data analyst
  • demographer assistant
  • interviewer

Career Clusters contain occupations in the same field of work that require similar skills. Students, parents, and educators can use Career Clusters to help focus education plans towards obtaining the necessary knowledge, competencies, and training for success in a particular career pathway. 

At Hartnell College students can earn a

  • Sociology for Transfer—AA-T
  • Liberal Arts: Sociology and Social Sciences Emphasis

See the Hartnell College Catalog for more information



Sociology Program Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program a student will be able to:

  1. describe, discuss, and apply the core concepts of sociology including: social structure; culture, social stratification and inequality; race, ethnicity, gender and intersectionality; and globalization.  
  2. apply core concepts of sociology to their professional, personal and civic lives.
  3. research, evaluate, and incorporate scholarly sources in a research paper.
  4. evaluate and discuss how sociological theories explain particular aspects of society.