Areas of Specialization

The Department of Sociology at Columbia University boasts a diverse faculty and graduate student body with interests in  various areas of study. Explore the subfields below to discover the affiliated scholars and learn more about their research.

Contemporary economic sociologists are interested in the causes and consequences of economic exchanges, the meaning of those exchanges, and the social interactions they facilitate or obstruct. Columbia's sociology department has long been recognized as a leader in this subfield. The department is therefore affiliated with or runs a number of workshops touch on areas of interest to economic sociologists, regularly brings important scholars in the area as visitors and speakers, and is populated by a large number of students and faculty engaged in research that draws on and contributes to the subfield.  

Faculty

Qualitative methodology includes interview and survey based research, participant-observation, and ethnography. Ethnography - or field research - is a sociological method that explores how people live and make sense of their lives with one another in particular places. The focus might be on people and the meaning they produce through everyday interactions, or places, and the organizational logics that guide our activities. Columbia provides an enormously rich environment for ethnographic research. From ghettos to suburbs, NASA to Wall Street, doormen to prep schools, our faculty have deployed this method to make sense of the rich variety of social life, making contributions to the sociology of race, cities, organizations, work, religion, media, gender, community, and inequality.

Faculty

Quantitative methodology includes the use of statistical analysis and modeling to explore what numbers can tell us about diverse social phenomenon. Examples of such methods include both linear and longitudinal regression analysis, ANOVA (analysis of variance), and some forms of network analysis. 

Faculty

 

The Department of Sociology at Columbia is home to several sociologists of gender & sexuality. Rooted in both contemporary and classical theory, sociologists of gender & sexuality adopt an intersectional lens in examining the social dimensions of these crucial facets of identity. In conjunction with other institutes and initiatives at Columbia University, such as the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWGS) and The Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation, faculty and graduate students alike have a unique opportunity to produce critical knowledge on how gender & sexuality impact diverse aspects of societies across the globe.


Faculty

 

Globalization and transnationalism research examines how micro-, meso-, and macro-level processes operate, interact, and transform social structures. Doctoral students at the department are encouraged to apply this analytical approach to the discipline’s core questions. Faculty and student research has contributed to the sociological understanding of democratization, financial systems, international migration, urbanization, social movements, sustainable development, imagined communities, multi-cultural education, agro-biotech research, traffic of toxic waste, and nativism. Our findings have not only led to theoretical contributions, but also useful insights for the design and revision of public policies.

New York is a unique platform from which to conduct research in globalization and transnationalism. The department encourages its students to take advantage of the global city, as well as of the Columbia University World Leaders Forum and the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, a unique interdisciplinary committee co-chaired by sociologist Saskia Sassen and economist and Nobel prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz.

Faculty

Health & Population Studies at Columbia is a multidisciplinary community of scholars unified by a commitment to research that addresses the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in the context of local and global inequalities, and that informs policies affecting these populations.  This community is centered in the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC), which integrates population research across Arts & Sciences, the School of Social Work, and the Mailman School of Public Health. Several members of the Columbia sociology department are faculty members of the CPRC and conduct research in the areas of children, youth, and family, migration, and urbanism (CPRC also has a fourth signature research area, namely HIV/AIDS and reproductive health).  Advanced graduate students with relevant research interests can be appointed as a CPRC fellow, which provides access to high performance computing, restricted data computing, Geographic Information Systems and spatial analysis services, and other resources such as travel support to the PAA annual meeting.

Faculty

Comparative and historical sociology in the department is distinguished by a range of perspectives that attend to questions of broad social and political processes (such as state formation, religion and politics, aspects of culture, law, production of knowledge and expertise) as well as various economic processes and organizational forms that emerge between states, markets and economic communities. The methods in this field are also thought in distinctive ways that bring together historical and network based approaches as well as historical and ethnographic perspectives.

Faculty

Social and economic inequality remains a contentious issue in the United States and in other western countries. Considerations of inequality spill over to related concerns: social justice, public responsibility, government versus private remedies for social problems. In Western countries debates about inequality are not focused on whether inequality is desirable, but on how much is acceptable, on how the degree of inequality should be managed, and on provisions to be made for the less fortunate.  At Columbia, our research on these themes has focused on education, on labor market processes including issues particular to women, ethnic minorities and immigrants in the labor force, as well as on elites and the creation and intergenerational transmission of household wealth.  We are examining these issues in the United States, Europe, Asia, and in Latin America.

Faculty

The wide scope of department interests cover the variety of organization life. Research and theorizing on the topic  include groups, social movements, formal and complex organizations, institutions, work and occupations, industries, and network forms of organizations - both intra-organizational and inter-organizational.

Faculty

Political sociologists concern themselves with questions of power and authority, often with a particular emphasis on the relationship between the state and civil society.  Within that broad rubric, analysts study any number of political phenomena such as the processes of state formation; the institutionalization of local, national, and global political regimes; the historical intersection of politics and the economy; the social structure of political beliefs and action; when and how citizens challenge political institutions; and how political systems change (for better and for worse).

Faculty

This cluster focuses on racial and ethnic stratification in the United States, the changing meaning of race and ethnicity over time, the experience of immigrant and their children, issues of immigrant incorporation and assimilation into host society, as well as race and intergroup relations. Our faculty conduct reserach on a wide range of historical and geographical context, covering the U.S., Europe, Asia, Isreal, Latin America and beyond. 

Faculty

The Science, Knowledge and Technology cluster gathers social scientists interested in how knowledge is created, distributed, drawn upon, and collectively understood. The workshop brings together diverse theoretical perspective and methodological approaches to social studies of SKAT, such as the sociology of expertise, sociology of professions, actor-network approaches, medical sociology, and science studies.

Faculty

At its core, sociology is the study of the complex relationships between and among people, institutions, organizations, and other structures in society. Social network analysis concerns itself with the robust examination of these linkages through the use of advanced quantitative and qualitative research techniques. By looking to the ways actors, both human and inanimate, arrange themselves or come to be connected, sociologists of social networks reveal the intricacies of social phenomena. Scholars of this subfield have the opportunity to produce research in partnership with The Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE), The Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP), and other institutes located at Columbia University.
 

Faculty

The study of urban sociology and cities is central to our sociological inquiry at Columbia, given our unique location in New York City and easy access to many global desinations from here.  This cluster focuses on topics such as urban poverty and slums, elites and wealth, inequality in the global city, neighborhood change and gentrification, neighborhood effects, the underground and informal economy, housing and residential mobility, and community life and city politics. Our faculty and graduate students are hard at work to unlock the inner-workings of cities and urban life.

Faculty