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Sociology research in articles, podcasts, images, statistical tables, charts, and graphs

What is background information?

Background information provides basic facts, history, descriptions and concepts about your topic.  Use only the information that you find useful in starting your research. You can always return to your sources if you need more in-depth information as you get deeper into your research topic.

What is Sociology?

What is Sociology? "Scientific study of human social behavior. As the study of humans in their collective aspect, sociology is concerned with all group activities—economic, social, political, and religious. Sociologists study such areas as bureaucracy, community, deviant behavior, family, public opinion, social change, social mobility, social stratification, and such specific problems as crime, divorce, child abuse, and substance addiction. Sociology tries to determine the laws governing human behavior in social contexts; it is sometimes distinguished as a general social science from the special social sciences, such as economics and political science, which confine themselves to a selected group of social facts or relations."

"sociology." The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 05 July 2011.

Sociology Topics and Theorists

It is important to know that sociology is a very broad and changing field:  there are more than 100 specialty fields.

Among the traditional sub-fields of sociology are:

  • political sociology
  • educational sociology
  • rural sociology
  • urban sociology
  • criminology
  • occupational sociology

Examples of newer sub-fields are:

  • environmental sociology
  • digital sociology
  • sociology of sports and leisure
  • military sociology
  • medical sociology
  • sociology of food and eating
  • sociology of emotions

Famous Sociologists:

  • Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
  • Durkheim, David EĢmile (1858-1917)
  • Karl Marx (1818-1883)
  • Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
  • Max Weber (1864 - 1920)

Recommended databases for background information

Begin your research by looking up your keywords in an online dictionary, encyclopedia or reference book. 

Identify articles in scholarly journals or popular magazines by looking up your search terms in one of the selected databases below. 

You also can find a complete list of online databases organized by subject on the Library's A-Z List of Databases.

Use your Oakton username and password to login from a non-campus computer.