Immersion Lecture: What is Sociology?

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Time of Event: 
Monday, January 11, 2016 - 09:30 to 10:00

In this introduction to the discipline of sociology, Dr. Lori Peek overviews the focus, history, and approach of sociological inquiry. She defines sociology as the systematic study of society, and the sociological perspective as one that analyzes patterns of individual experience. She identifies several foundation thinkers, including Comte, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and describes the major theoretical approaches that derive from them. She also focuses on methodological aspects of sociology, defining the scales at which sociologists work and the differences between quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis. She highlights some key sociological concepts, including structure and agency, social stratification, and inequality. She ends by discussing the future of sociology, and highlights the move toward interdisciplinary work and new methodologies to address wicked problems.

Reading List

Mills, C.W. (1959). The promise of sociology. From The Sociological Imagination. Access at:

Presentation Slides

Click here to download the presentation slides. 

Lori Peek is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University. She is also the co-founder of the SHOREline youth empowerment program and co-director of the Youth Creating Disaster Recovery project. She has published widely on the sociology of disasters and is author of Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11, co-author of Children of Katrina, and co-editor of Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora. Dr. Peek received the Distinguished Book Award from the Midwest Sociological Society in 2012 and the Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity in 2013. In 2009, the American Sociological Association Section on Children and Youth honored her with its Early Career Award for Outstanding Scholarship. She has also been named Professor of the Year and has received the Best Teacher Award and the Excellence in Teaching Award from Colorado State University.

Event type: 
Immersion Speaker
Event Attendance: 
Private Working Group
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