When, in a city of 100,000, only one man is unemployed, that is his personal trouble, and for its relief we properly look to the character of the man, his skills, and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million men are unemployed, that is an issue, and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any one individual.
C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959
Almost every part of our daily life is social. Our innermost thoughts are expressed in a language we share with others; our interactions with
friends, family, professors, or the person we buy our coffee from, follow scripts that differ from culture to culture; the jobs we choose from – and
whether we have a job at all – are defined by the socio-economic system of our society; even our relationship with nature is shaped by a social context beyond
the control of any individual. We’re born in to a world of meanings and structures that shape us, that we must adapt to, and in many ways try to
re-shape, in order to survive.
Sociology seeks to understand these broad forces, systems, and structures on their own terms. As C. Wright Mills put it, we use our
sociological imagination to get beyond the everyday world we take for granted as individuals, and to understand the broader social and historical situation
we are in. In what way are the choices we make about the life we want to lead shaped by social structures? How do our ideas of good and bad, justice and
fairness, or freedom and oppression relate to the sort of society we live in?
With teaching and research
specializations in Criminology & Socio-Legal Studies,
Social Structure & Policy, and Theory & Culture, the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta is one of the best in Canada.
Whether completing an undergraduate or graduate
degree, you will have the opportunity to work with leading scholars and outstanding teachers to research
different aspects of social life –
such as gender and sexuality, families, globalization, crime, family, work, the environment, and even death and dying itself. The department is home
to several cutting-edge research centres, the Population Research Laboratory
and the Intermedia Research Studio
Learn more by reading some recent department newsletters or about our Department History.