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u/metropolis46 · 5 pointsr/sociology

I just went through the process of applying to sociology PhD programs last fall.

Not falling behind: the only suggestions that I have would be to regularly read journal articles related to your research. Also, if you have some funds I would suggest going to local sociological conferences and present your research/work if you can. It's also a great opportunity for your to network and get in contact with grad students, faculty, and professionals in your research. It's important to keep in touch with them over the years so that come application time, you may know someone in the selection committee and that definitely helps.

Preparing for grad school applications process: Speaking from experience, start early and keep your applications organized. Start looking at PhD programs that you're interested in and keep a hierarchical list according to top tier programs (e.g. UC Berkeley), middle tier programs (e.g. University of Oregon) and bottom tier programs (e.g. UC Riverside). For this list, I would suggest ranking them not only on the program's national ranking but how much the program would satisfy your wants and needs i.e. department research, faculty, funding opportunities, diversity, location, etc. Keep track of this list and narrow it down to however many programs you plan to apply to. Look for faculty in your research and read their work. Contact faculty, ask them provoking questions about their research, try to set up appointments to meet them in person. If not, try to build a relationship through e-mail. This would be a opportunity for professors to notice that you are taking the initiative to contact them and being active in sociological research. They will also remember you when they are on a selection committee for a PhD program or even on a committee for a position in academia. I'm not sure if you had to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for entry into your master's program, but sociology PhD programs require the GRE. My advice for studying for the GRE: start studying at least 6 months before you take the test and study regularly - it's not a test you can cram for the night before. I would say set up your own study plan and work off the [ETS Revised GRE prep book] ( Keep in contact with the people who will write you letters of recommendation - make sure you update them on what you've been working on for the past couple of years. It's helpful to give them your application materials so they can write you a strong letter of recommendation. For personal statements, just start writing and getting through drafts and get feedback from your letter writers. Keep track of transcripts - make sure they are submitted. Most applications are online and required unofficial transcripts but I would say triple check the transcript requirements.

PhD programs: I'm just starting my sociology PhD program, and from my own experience I can say that you definitely need to do your research on PhD programs and talk to graduate students in the programs that you're interested in. The program may seem promising but grad students may be miserable (and it's good to talk to many grad students to get multiple perspectives on the program). In terms of funding, usually PhD programs offer some form of support to students - whether through fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships. Be careful though - look to see how many years the program supports and how many years it takes for students to finish. If there's a big gap, say a program offers 3 years of support and it usually takes students 7 years to finish (unlikely but may happen), then you would want to prepare yourself for applying for external funding once you are in the program. Definitely look into external fellowships that you are eligible for like the Ford Foundation (that's a big one) and the American Sociological Association minority fellowship. There are many external fellowships outside of sociology that you may be eligible for, you might have to dig deep to find them. I haven't officially started my PhD program, so I can't tell you my experience or how to navigate the program.

I hope this doesn't sound redundant as I'm sure you underwent a similar application process for master's programs. Please feel free to PM me if you have any more questions.

u/BubBidderskins · 2 pointsr/sociology

It's awesome to see someone interested in sociology (especially sociology of religion) in high school.

Before you start doing research, you need to think about what your actual question is. What is it about the sociology of religion that interests you? Are you interested in explaining religious variation? Are you interested in how different people experience religion? Are you interested in studying how religion influences people's behavior or beliefs? Think of something in the social world that you don't know, but want to know. The answer will guide how you approach research.

Also, not all of the sociology of religion is quantitative with large sample sizes. There's been some great qualitative work with small sample sizes done in the past. Nancy Ammerman has done some awesome qualitative work. One of my favorite sociology books is Baptist Battles which offers a window into the fundamentalist/progressive conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention in the 80s.

If you are interested in more population level, quantitative stuff, take a look at Putnam and Cambell's American Grace. It's not really an academic book, but the research is solid and it's a great example of the kind of findings quantitative sociology of religion can produce.

If you find that interesting, then you should take some statistics courses and begin to learn statistical software like STATA, SPSS, R. A lot of that software is really daunting to learn at first. We had to learn R in my first year statistics course in grad school, and it had PhD students scratching their heads. Still, getting even a very basic understanding of something like that will get you a head start on research. You WILL need to learn a statistical software in order to quantitative research. If you feel comfortable with doing some basic statistics, check out The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) for some cool public use data.

Also, if you want to do research you need to read research. People here have suggested classic works like Berger's Sacred Canopy or stuff from Weber, Marx and Durkheim. That stuff is cool and all, and if you continue to be interested in sociology you will have to read that. However, nobody doing research today is trying to emulate what Berger, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim did. I suggest looking through some of the articles in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion to get a sense of the kinds of research sociologists of religion are doing now. Don't get too bogged down in ancient stuff said by old dead white guys.

One last thing -- absolutely nobody expects you do any kind of research in high school. All the stuff I mentioned are things I learned in grad school and I would consider way above what would be expected from a typical high school student. If you find it overwhelming and confusing that's totally normal. Research is overwhelming and confusing all the time.

u/dandanar · 7 pointsr/sociology


First things first, it's going to be ok! Lots of people enter sociology PhD programs with no background in sociology (or even a related social science!) at all. So, having majored in Sociology means you should have a much better lay of the land than some of your peers. That said, your classes will likely assume very little specific knowledge of sociology. For better or for worse, Sociology in undergrad is not treated as a "cumulative" subject where students are expected to master material in one class and then apply it in another. Grad school will expect that of you, to some extent, but it will not assume you start with much.

Second, if you are specifically worried about stats, I'd highly recommend reading some very light introductions that familiarize you with the concepts and ideas. Don't spend a lot of time with specific formulas, derivations, or software - your graduate stats sequence will cover all of that, again assuming you know basically nothing to start with. Instead, try to get a feel for statistical arguments, and for the basic ideas of probability, distributions, sampling, and so on. Start with something like The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. Then, read some quantitative sociology. Check out ASR or AJS or other big journals in the field. Find some articles on the topics that interest you and try to read through them to get a sense of how they employ quantitative methods. Don't expect to understand everything, but see what you can piece together.

Beyond that, I'd highly recommend checking out Fabio Rojas's guide Grad School Rulz (most of the content is available as a set of free blog posts on OrgTheory). I don't agree with absolutely everything Fabio says, but his advice is generally solid, and he covers all the important topics. Even if you don't take all his advice, reading the book will help you figure out what sorts of questions you should be asking and thinking about.

If you have any other specific concerns, let me know and I'm happy to give more targeted advice! Beyond that, good luck, and welcome to Sociology!

u/thetoweroftoothpaste · 0 pointsr/sociology

I like what you pointed out there: the difference in disagreement that occurs in sociology and philosophy. Part of the charm about philosophy, for me, is that very lack of agreement you mentioned because in good philosophical discussions you get to see both sides of the story (if not more). For instance, I took an ethics class and we saw different ethical issues from different perspectives. To give just one example, one topic we focused on was abortion and we read from Judith Jarvis Thomson and Mary Anne Warren (both in favor), as well as Robert P. George and Don Marquis (not in favor). This gave a balanced evaluation of some different attitudes to a single topic.

I feel like there could be more of this attitude-fairness in sociology - a fairness of being open to both sides of the debate because sociologists usually do have an agenda. Weigh out the evidence, ya know, cuz echo chambers are boring and smug. The good thing that is there is some of this in sociology, for instance, this "Think Twice" text:

Again though, compared to philosophy, from my limited perspective, I think more balance would be a good thing in sociology.

EDIT: Whoops, just read the comments below after posting. I agree, there are more important things then the balance of ideology ... but I'd be skeptical that our political values can purely be informed by scientific methods. I'm also skeptical to vouch for either the left or the right's understanding/responses to social issues ... I think the fairest thing to say is that they both get some things right and wrong in different ways. That's why I'm so zealous about sociology being more than a neo-Marxist echo chamber: let's not be so quick to think we have society so neatly figured out, let's look at both sides of the story and weigh the evidence in a civil manner. I'm not even looking for a consensus, but I'm a strong believer that looking at contrary opinions is a good thing, even if it leads to different conclusions. That includes myself, so I should probably brush up on my Marx eventually and read something from him and not just about him. I'll even admit, I've been reading Janet Wolff's "The Social Production of Art" - which is grounded in materialism - and have quite enjoyed it. I say this to say that some good insights can be made through Marxist theory.

u/foucaultlol · 2 pointsr/sociology

I may be in the minority but I don't think that Mills's Sociological Imagination is a good starting point for an introduction to sociology. While the first chapter (The Promise) may be worth a read, the rest of the book is very much an insider's critique of the subject and requires the reader to have a general understanding of sociology as it is being practiced post-WWII. I think that you will get the most out of Mills after familiarizing yourself with sociology more broadly.

As others have mentioned, Ritzer & Stepnisky's Sociological Theory is a very comprehensive overview of sociological thinking but it may be a bit overwhelming. While it isn't as encyclopedic as Ritzer & Stepnisky, I like Seidman's Contested Knowledge because it provides the reader with both a historical overview of sociological thinking and provides easy to read summaries of important thinkers.

I am not sure if you will find these too difficult but here are some other books that may expand your understanding of sociology:

u/Croc600 · 12 pointsr/sociology

R for Data Science is great, especially because it teaches tidyverse.

Another good book is Learning Statistics with R: A tutorial for psychology students and other beginners, which also teaches the implementation of basic statistical techniques, like ANOVA or linear regression.

If you have some time spare, you can follow it by Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models, which is also (mostly) based on R.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is a good book on the principles of data visualization. It’s theoretical, so no R examples.

Complex Surveys: A Guide to Analysis Using R is great if you work with survey data, especially if you work with complex designs (which nowdays is pretty much all the time).

Personaly, I would also invest some time learning methodology. Sadly, I can’t help you here, because I didn’t used textbook for this, but people seem to like books from Earl Babbie.

u/ravenrhiannon13 · 4 pointsr/sociology

This collection is a really great concise overview of the four major sociological traditions - it has great excerpts from a lot of major sociologists. If you're looking for a broad(ish) introductory anthology I highly recommend this text.

u/skyswordsman · 1 pointr/sociology

My Freshman Year by Rebekah Nathan is a great text for students to get a feel for what an ethnographic study would be like. Since many have college on their minds at this point, it will also serve to give them a great inside look at what to expect.

u/jmmeij · 3 pointsr/sociology

Not a real textbook but a good read ain't no makin' it

I have used this one before berko

inequality reader

very big and probably more for a grad course but nonetheless a good resource grusky

u/geneusutwerk · 2 pointsr/sociology

So I am a political scientist (though my research crosses into sociology).

What I would recommend is starting by learning Generalized Linear Models (GLMs). Logistic regression is one type, but GLMs are just a way of approaching a bunch of other type of dependent variables.

Gelman and Hill's book is probably the best single text book that can cover it all. I think it provides examples in R so you could also work on picking up R. It covers GLMs and multi-level models which are also relatively common in sociology.

u/TheSimulatedScholar · 2 pointsr/sociology

The best general sociology textbook I've ever had is George Ritzer's Sociological Thoery. Sociological Theory

Here is his Intro text: Introduction to Sociology

Also, this book seems good to me. The Sociology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

I'm thinking of design my own 101 course using the last 2.

u/littlealbatross · 3 pointsr/sociology

Another contemporary source that could be useful is "American Grace: How Religion Unites Us and Divides Us." I read it for a Politics of Religion class (not Soc specifically) but it was a good book.

u/coconutcrab · 1 pointr/sociology

Hm. I hope this is in the arena, but Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody might be of interest to you!

u/Immuchtooawesome · -3 pointsr/sociology

We tend to focus on the problems because large parts of American sociology is currently focused on changing the world. I highly recommend reading/listening to this book to temper some of the doom and gloom -

It's not perfect, but it focuses on the positive aspects of how society has evolved over time.

I've also heard good things about Enlightment Now - but I haven't had the time to read it yet

u/madcowga · 2 pointsr/sociology

My friend has written a couple of intro texts, which are highly readable and used in intro courses all over:
This and This

BTW, don't let the one star review fool you on the first book above. Clearly the reviewer is a crank.

u/grinchman042 · 21 pointsr/sociology

Here's your assigned reading of the day:

tl;dr: Every interesting question in sociology has lots of potentially "obvious" answers before it's been researched. Our job is to find out which one is right and how it fits together. If he'd found that IQ explains 50% of the variance in income, people would say that that was obvious, too.

u/hmmmtacos · 3 pointsr/sociology

The gardener and the carpenter is an excellent read. More focusing on education, but that in itself transitions into these other topics. amazon link

u/mavnorman · 2 pointsr/sociology

For an introduction why people may not act as you expect them to, see "The elephant in the brain" by Simler & Hanson. It's easy to read, but it's more of a high-level approach.

The seminal text for influencing people personally is Cialdini's "Influence".

u/NotKrankor · 2 pointsr/sociology

Becker H. (1963) Outsiders : Studies In The Sociology Of Deviance ( link) is a book I always recommend. It's really easy to read, heavily illustrated with a "theory - field example - theory - field example" layout and, of course, really interesting.

There are really good reads in the list /u/brechindave posted, but most of them are painful if you're not familiar with sociology (Durkheim's Suicide for example, which I read and disliked in my first year).

u/dimaba · 2 pointsr/sociology

One of my favourite books is on this exact topic (it's even subtitled "How common sense fails us"). Take a look at this: The the book explores what common sense is and isn't good for and what sociologists have to offer instead.