Welcome to UCR Sociology.

UCR faculty research spans t­­he whole spectrum of sociological inquiry, from micro-dynamics of human identity and emotions to larger processes involving social institutions, corporate organizations, and global social structures. Our current and emeritus faculty includes one of two UC sociologists to ever receive the distinction of University Professor, multiple Distinguished Professors, former presidents and vice presidents of the American and Pacific Sociological Associations (PSA, ASA), former editors of official ASA journals, ASA section chairs and council members, among other noteworthy titles. Our faculty is also incredibly productive. The most recent NRC data on publications, citations, grants and awards ranks UCR sociology second among UC sociology departments.

Training graduate students for successful careers as scholars and teachers is at the core of our mission. The graduate program at UCR grants doctoral degrees, and allows students to earn a Master’s degree along the way. To provide our students with state of the art training in the field, the faculty recently approved an updated graduate curriculum. The program provides strong training in sociological theory and methods, as well as depth in any two of the department’s seven areas of specialization: Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies, Gender Studies, Organizations and Institutions, Political Economy and Global Social Change, Race and Class Inequality, Social Psychology, and Sociological Theory. We prioritize hands-on training in sociological research, and provide many opportunities for collaborative research between faculty and graduate students. Please see the links on this page for more information.

We offer undergraduate training that covers a broad range of sociological inquiry, including ethnicity, race and class inequality, gender, social stratification, sociology of education, the city and urban problems, the environment, sociology of religion, crime and deviance and global social change. Course topics also include formal and large organizations, the family, political organizations, language diversity in the United States, evolutionary sociology and social psychology. Our faculty consistently earns outstanding teaching evaluations due to their commitment to pedagogical excellence.

Please see our most current newsletter to read more about UCR Sociology.

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Research Concentrations.

The Department of Sociology offers a specialization in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies. It focuses on the causes, manifestations, consequences, and control of crime, ranging from youth and adult street crime to domestic violence, corporate crime, white-collar crime, and crimes committed by the government or its agents. An understanding of crime and its prevention requires multidisciplinary research. While this is recognized, the specialization emphasizes sociological approaches involving the structural and cultural factors producing crime and violence, such as structural transformations of the urban landscape and the connections between race, disadvantage, and violent victimization. The specialization also emphasizes theories of law and their application to the legal system and its relation to other social institutions and social phenomena. This emphasis extends to how these factors shape conceptions of crime and influence the legal system. Basic research knowledge about crime and the legal issues is central to this specialization, but applying that knowledge to inform legal policies and practices is also emphasized.

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The Gender Studies specialization focuses on gender inequality in the United States and in comparative and global perspective, with an emphasis on intersections of gender, class, and race/ethnicity. Gender Studies draws on sociological and feminist theories in examining gender inequality at the micro, meso, and macro levels. Faculty research interests include the construction of masculinities and femininities, intersectional theory, gender and the self, feminist politics and movements, gender and social change, and law. 

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The Organizations and Institutions specialization examines the evolution and contemporary structure of organizations and the institutional systems (e.g. economy, polity, law, education, kinship, religion, etc.) in which they are embedded. Theories of organizations and institutions are explored as are empirical regularities in organizations and particular institutional systems. Special emphasis is placed on the evolutionary history and dynamics of institutional systems during long- term societal development as well as the interaction among institutional systems and the organizations within them.

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This specialization brings together a number of sub specialties, including social movements, historical, political, economic and macro-comparative sociology. We build on classical political economy, including the works of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Polanyi, as well as more recent theories of political economy. This specialization brings together empirical examinations of world cities, demographic and ecological dynamics, the welfare state, large scale social networks, income inequality, social movements, class and gender dynamics, the evolving intersocietal division of labor, ethnic entrepreneurship, global democracy, and the political, economic, social, demographic and health implications of North-South international migration for sending and receiving areas. Our faculty expertise encompasses the full range of methodological diversity in the study of political economy, including econometrics, network analysis, demographic methods, qualitative and ethnographic approaches, and comparative-historical analysis in both its qualitative and quantitative forms.

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The Department of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside offers a specialization in Race and Class Inequality. Race and Class Inequality combines two of the core sub-areas of the discipline of Sociology. The structuring of U.S. society (and the world) along race and class lines, and the limitations to equal opportunity that this poses, pervades almost all other aspects of Sociology and other social science disciplines.

Research in this specialization focuses on the social, economic, political, and health consequences of race/ethnicity and inequality both nationally and globally. Students in the specialization study social, economic and political disparities, including both class and race as the bases of inequality. They examine theories and studies of racial and class oppression and exploitation. The specialization investigates the meaning of race/ethnicity, theories of race and inequality, causes and manifestations of racism, prejudice, and discrimination, and the effects of these phenomena on individuals, groups, nations, and international relations. Research in the specialization uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches and employs variegated theoretical frameworks. In addition to the above, students are free and encouraged to develop their own unique research interests in consultation with the faculty. Originality and excellence in thought, theorizing, and research are stressed.

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The specialization in Social Psychology focuses on micro-level theories and research on the relationships between individuals, on the one side, and social structures and culture, on the other. Emphasis is on: (1) individual-level processes such as identities and emotions; (2) interactive processes that emerge between individuals and within groups; and (3) the effects of micro-social processes on meso-level and macro- level structures, and vice versa.

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Since the founding of the department at UCR in the 1950s, theory has been a strong area in the department. While sociological theory is highly eclectic, most of those working in theory specialization are committed to the epistemology of science and to the development of general models and principles in explaining the dynamics of the social universe. This emphasis is at the core of what the department teaches, but at the same time the department does offer courses in the history of sociological ideas and in critical theoretical approaches to understanding the social world. Still, the specialty is built around scientific explanation more than alternative approaches. Students who specialize in theory will be expected to have a firm grasp of the classical theorists in sociology—particularly Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, Emile Durkheim, and George Herbert Mead but, potentially, others as well.

This base is to be supplemented by a thorough knowledge of contemporary theoretical perspectives and key figures working within these perspectives.

Within the theory specialization is a special sub-specialization in evolutionary sociology. This sub-specialization examines long-term cycles and stages of societal and inter-societal development, the rise and demise of world-systems, neurosociology, evolutionary psychology, cross-species comparisons, and more generally, analysis of the biological basis of human behavior and interaction, and social organization. This sub-specialty is oriented toward cross-disciplinary collaborations with other social sciences as well as with the natural sciences.

Each year, one and often more seminars are offered on a broad array of topics in theory with the goal of the program in theory to produce very broadly trained theorists who know the entire range of theoretical sociology, particularly across its scientific wing. Also included are more critical theorists and those less committed to the epistemology of science. Moreover, seminars in other areas of specialization outside of theory are often used to meet requirements for the theory specialization. There are, for example, courses in the Social Psychology, Political Economy and Global Social Change, and Gender Studies specialties that can be taken by students preparing for examinations in theory that follow the standardized procedures of the department.

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