Skip to Content

College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Sociology

Areas of Research Specialty

Teaching and research by faculty at the University of South Carolina is centered on three broad areas, Inequalities and Institutions; Population and Health; and Social Psychology, described below. Thus, in addition to training in theory and methods, graduate students concentrate in one of these three areas.


Inequalities and Institutions 

This area emphasizes the shape, nature, causes and consequences of social inequality; enduring social processes that sustain inequality (e.g. social mobility, social networks, the intergenerational transmission of rewards and culture); the significance of race/ethnicity, gender, class and nativity in stratification processes; and the ways in which institutions and organizations such as law and social control, education, religion, the family and labor market shape and influence social life and behavior. For more detailed information, visit the webpages of the Inequalities and Institutions faculty, including Jennifer Augustine, Jason Cummings, Mathieu Deflem, Caroline Hartnett, Andrea Henderson, Carla PfefferJimy Sanders, and Shelley Smith.


Population and Health

The Population and Health area emphasizes substantive and methodological training in population and health research. Population studies focus on demographic processes such as fertility, mortality, household formation and migration, and how these processes shape and are shaped by other social dynamics.  Areas of interest include (1) individual life course events such as marriage and cohabitation, childbearing, illness and disability, mortality, employment, migration, and retirement; (2) societal-level (e.g., national and global) challenges related to population, such as rapid urbanization, aging populations, and environmental strain; and (3) theories and methods that describe patterns of population change and the individual life course events underlying them.   Health and well-being research focuses upon (1) the study of health and wellbeing across social structures of gender, race/ethnicity and class, including the social determinants of health and health care inequalities; (2) the interaction between health and social institutions like family, education, the labor market, medical institutions/practitioners, and religion;  (3) the sociological norms, construction and interpretation of health and wellness; and (4) sociological theories, social epidemiology and statistical methodologies for studying health and wellbeing.  For more detailed information, visit the webpages of the Population and Health faculty, including Doug Anderton, Jennifer Augustine, Jason Cummings, Caroline Hartnett, Andrea Henderson, and Yujia Liu.


Social Psychology

The Social Psychology program at the University of South Carolina currently ranks 4th in the nation, according to the US News and World Report’s Best Graduate School Rankings. Social psychologists at the University of South Carolina study social psychological determinants of discrimination and inequality; power and status processes; justice; bargaining; emotions; cooperation; collective action; altruism and prosocial behavior; morality and norms; and social networks and social relations. For more information, see the webpages of Social Psychology faculty, including Matthew BrashearsBarry Markovsky, Brent Simpson, and Shane Thye