Undergraduate Sociology Program

Welcome to the Sociology Department!

Sociology is the study of social interactions among individuals and social groups. More specifically, sociologists examine the cultural, ideological, economic and political contexts of human action including the processes whereby social institutions are created, maintained, and transformed.

Sociology was born as an intellectual response to the democratic and industrial revolutions that ushered in the modern era. As such, it considers how society is organized in relationship to a vision of a just, liberatory, and equal society—a vision that may require fundamental social change. Developing an understanding of both social change and social justice as part of the sociological tradition is one of the teaching goals of the Sociology Department at UCSC. In the process, we expect to develop in students an appreciation for the craft of social science: disciplined inquiry, observation, and research as part of informed global citizenship.

Our faculty have expertise in topics that include, but are not limited to:

Table of faculty areas of expertise
  • Black geographies
  • Children, youth, and families
  • Civic engagement, voting, and citizenship
  • Community-engaged research
  • Cultural politics and the politicization of culture
  • The cultural politics of sex work
  • Critical ethnography
  • Drugs, botanicals, and pharmaceuticals
  • Educational inequality
  • Environmental sociology
  • Feminist studies
  • Food sovereignty
  • Globalization and international development
  • Global inequality, crime, and deviance
  • Health and medicine
  • Identities and identity changes
  • International law
  • Intersection of race, class, gender and sexualities
  • Labor studies
  • Latinx communities
  • Law and Society
  • Medicine and technology
  • Media studies
  • Immigration and Migration
  • Popular culture and cultural studies
  • Public Policy
  • Queer studies
  • Science and technology
  • Social movements
  • Sociology of emotion and affect
  • Survey design and quantitative data analysis
  • Sustainability
  • Technology and social change
  • Urban studies

Sociology faculty use a number of approaches and methods, including field research, critical ethnography, cultural analysis, comparative historical analysis, and quantitative techniques.

The sociology major at UC Santa Cruz is a rigorous program of study that retains enough flexibility to accommodate students with diverse career goals and plans. It ensures that all students are trained in the main theoretical and methodological traditions of sociology, yet permits considerable variation in students’ own areas of specialization. The major provides the necessary intellectual foundation for students who are considering graduate studies in sociology and related social sciences. It also can be used as preparation for careers in fields as diverse as law, social work, management, environmental planning, public service, education, health services, journalism, and counseling. Finally, the sociology major can provide a general liberal education for undergraduates interested in the study of contemporary society and social problems.

Because of the interdisciplinary emphasis among sociology faculty, undergraduates find the department amenable for double majors and minors, and non-majors find many sociology courses of interest. In recent years, students have conducted independent studies and written senior theses on a variety of subjects including undocumented immigrants, cultural diversity and inclusion in education, low-wage workers in Santa Cruz County, housing shortage, social inequality and immunology, economic inequality and mental health, surveillance state and national security, feminism, music and race, homeless shelter services, domestic violence, inclusive education, the Pelican Bay Prison hunger strike, participatory culture in the 2016 presidential campaign, social media, the school-to-prison pipeline, mental illness, and community empowerment.

The Sociology Department offers two undergraduate majors: 1) a general sociology major; 2) a sociology with a concentration in global information and social enterprise studies (GISES) intensive major. Students also have the option of a combined major in Latin American and Latino studies (LALS) and sociology, which can be found through the LALS Department. Additionally, there is a minor in GISES that is open to students in any major.



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