The substantive focus of sociology at the University of Minnesota is to clarify the implications of both stability and change within a framework of social action. The intent is to join the rich social scientific understandings of social and individual dynamics with wider issues of public concern. The overall purpose is to fashion a sociology simultaneously committed to creating general knowledge of social life, but at the same time mindful of the discipline's responsibility to its public role in clarifying critical social issues.
The framework of action and change underscores our focus on agency and choice as central to sociological analysis. Micro-oriented sociologists examine agency in terms of individuals—their strengths, resiliencies and pathologies—as they exercise choice across developmental progressions, family life cycles, and work careers. Macro-oriented sociologists assess agency in terms of planned change and spontaneous movements as they affect economic and social development. Current work at the forefront of the discipline weaves these multiple levels together by examining how social change affects the biographies of individuals and how, in turn, individual change culminates in larger social transformations.
The vision informing our mission is of a proactive civic sociology drawing attention to significant social issues, and responsive to the interests of the wider society. The vision is illustrated and implemented in current departmental projects concerned with the quality of social life: youth employment, gender relations, crime and criminal justice, philanthropy, and political extremism.
The substantive focus of sociology at the University of Minnesota is to clarify the implications of both stability and change within a framework of social action. The intent is to join the rich social scientific understandings of social…