Sociologists study the workings of social phenomena – social unrest; economic and political behavior; culture; inequality; social organization; identity; and related phenomena – by focusing on the social origins of the self, groups, and institutions. Oberlin College introduced its students to the study of sociology in the 1890s, making it one of the first colleges in the country to offer instruction in this field. Our faculty members are active researchers on questions regarding race, ethnicity, immigration, and nationalism; labor and work; inequality; gender and sexuality; social movements and identity politics; and the institutions of education, family, and state. Our department contributes to such interdisciplinary programs as African American studies; comparative American studies; gender, sexuality, and feminist studies; law and society; Middle East and North Africa studies; and Russian and East European studies.
We offer coursework for both a major and minor. The department reflects the breadth and rigor of the discipline, teaching courses in the core areas of social organizations and institutions; social inequality and stratification; micro-sociology: individuals and society; and the historical and comparative study of social change. We offer students diverse opportunities to participate in independent research, field internships, study away, and private readings. Students may apply for the Jerome Davis Research Award designed to defray research costs of field projects in the social sciences. Our curriculum prepares students to pursue graduate study, earn a wide range of professional degrees, and become leaders in their communities. The skills that sociology majors master support these diverse goals, including logic and analysis, research design, quantitative and qualitative methods, and cross-cultural communication. Refer to our Alumni page for more information.