Why It Matters: Sociological Foundations

What is Sociology and why is it a science?  Research vs. Common Sense

Welcome to the exciting world of sociology. Sociologists study society and social interactions, and in order to do so, they do scientific research that will provide insightful and valuable information. They go beyond common sense understandings in trying to explain or understand social phenomena. Sociologists do not see the world as we normally do, they question and analyze why things happen and if there is a way to stop a problem before it happens.

In this module, we will establish a foundational understanding of what sociology is and how it came to be.  You will learn about the main theoretical perspectives central to the study of society and see how sociology can be applied in the real world.  You will further examine some of the research methods used by sociologists.

You’ll come to find that sociology is pertinent to every aspect of your life. You may see yourself as an individual, but by virtue of your gender, race, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or even consumption habits, you are also a member of several social groups, all of which are interacting constantly.

Do you want to relate to people in both your personal and professional life? Do you want to understand the impacts of the structures of society on the individual as well as how the individual acts on the structure of society? These are the types of things you will examine in this course.

Did you know that the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Robin Williams, and First Lady Michelle Obama were all sociology majors? Chances are good that you’ll find the subject fascinating, too!


  • Define sociology and describe the historical and social context from which it emerged
  • Explain the sociological imagination and the relationship between the individual and the broader workings of society
  • Differentiate between the three main theoretical paradigms/perspectives in sociology and describe how they are used
  • Describe and apply the scientific method to sociology
  • Identify and differentiate between types of research methods, discussing the benefits and limitations of each
  • Consider the importance of ethics in sociological research