Nicholas P. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
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Sociology at Eckerd College
Sociology may be the most inclusive of the social sciences. Indeed, it would be fair to say that there is no form of human behavior or experience which is outside the interests of sociologists. Some sociologists study systems of inequality based on class, race, and gender. Other sociologists examine social institutions, such as work and occupations, the family, politics and government, education, health, and religion. Still other sociologists investigate the dynamics of social organizations, small groups, and face-to-face interaction.
Nonetheless, sociology can be characterized by its focus and method. We define sociology as the scientific study of human societies. Sociologists are social scientists; they study the social forces that shape human behavior and experience. The purpose of sociology is to develop and test theories that account for the regularities of human conduct. These theories are grounded in research and data of one kind or another. In short, the essential attribute of sociology is the application of scientific methods to the study of human societies.
The subject matter of sociology concerns your community, your society, your world. Thus, it offers virtually unlimited opportunities for the kind of gratification that comes from understanding what is going on around you. Moreover, such knowledge is liberating. In his book, Invitation to Sociology, Peter Berger puts it this way: "Sociology is justified by the belief that it is better to be conscious than unconscious and that consciousness is a condition of freedom."