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Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

Sociologists analyze how social institutions and social structures such as the economy, politics, education, the family, mass media, and the criminal justice system affect individuals in society.

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic can be the most challenging step in writing a research paper. You may change your topic, subtopics, scopes, and approaches frequently until you find the right combination of your interest, the available literature, and the assignment's requirements.  Here are some resources to help:

  • The library's step-by-step guide to choosing topics;

  • An-easy-to-navigate video tutorial on choosing your topic;

  • The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology: Browse this seminal work to generate ideas; you may cite this source in your bibliography;

  • Wikipedia: Browse this source to generate ideas, but in general, instructors do not consider Wikipedia a substantiated source. We recommend you browse it for subtopics, then locate substantiated sources in the library's holdings.

  • Sociology journals and websites: These sources contain some of the most current topics within the field. Use the sites listed on the Journals and Websites section of this guide. 

  • Visit the Sociology section of King library: There are few more inspiring ways to choose a topic than to browse books on the shelves. Stop by King and visit these sections by call numbers:

    • HM covers general and theoretical sociology

    • HN, social history and conditions and social problems and reform

    • HQ, marriage and the family, sexual life, age groups, and women’s studies

    • HS, secret and other societies and clubs

    • HT, urban and rural sociology, social classes (including slavery), and race and race relations in general

    • HV, social work and public welfare, social pathologies (including drug abuse, crime and criminology, and terrorism), and criminal justice administration

    • HX, socialism and communism (general), utopias, and anarchism.

    • As much sociological research and methodology are interdisciplinary, a significant part of subclass H, which covers social sciences in general, is sociological in nature. Large numbers of sociology titles are found in the subject bibliography section of Class Z: in Z 7161-7165 (political and social sciences) and in Z 5703 (criminology).  [LoC]

Choosing a Topic Process Example

As you begin your research, you will likely find that you will need to fine-tune your topic based on the articles you find. As you engage with the literature, you will fine-tune your topic. This is a reiterative process that will result in your paper posing a question and then answering it. 


Contact your subject librarian!

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Drop-ins and appointments available. 

Common Topics in Sociology

This list, originally compiled by university librarian Kathryn Blackmer Reyes, includes common topics within Sociology.  These make useful keywords when searching our databases.  One way to help create your topic or research inquiry is to choose an approach from the first column and link it to one or two topics in the remaining columns. 

Approaches Topics    
An analysis of... #BlackLivesMatter Ethnicity and race Pollution
A comparison between... #MeToo Euthanasia Population growth, control
The consequences of... Abortion Excessive force Pornography
The effectiveness of.... Addiction Fair trade Poverty
The efficacy of.... Advertising Family Prayer in school
The impact of.... Affirmative action Family structures Prison reform
Findings from.... Americans with Disabilities Act Federal government shut-down    Prison, sentencing
The relationship between...              Animal rights Federal policy Privacy
A review of.... Anti-nuclear movement Felony disenfranchisement Prohibition
The influence of.... Antiracism Food distribution Prostitution
  Anti-vaccination Food laws, regulation Public health
  Assimilation Food packaging Public spaces
  Assisted suicide Gangs Race and wealth
  At-risk youth Gated communities Racial profiling
  Bankruptcy Gay rights Racial unrest
  Birth control Gender Racism
  Bulimia, anorexia Gender bias Rape
  Campus crime Gendered occupations Recidivism
  Charter schools Genetic modification Recycling
  Child abuse Genetically modified food Redlining
  Child labor Gentrification Restaurant workers
  Children's media Global warming Retail profiling
  Civil rights Gun control Right to work
  Civil rights movements Gun rights, laws Riots
  Class, social mobility Happiness, social aspects Same-sex marriage
  Classism Hate crimes School shootings
  Clery Act Hazing Segregation
  Climate change Health care Senior citizens
  Cloning Healthy masculinity Sex trade
  Compassionate communication Home foreclosures Sexism
  Consumer debt Homelessness Sexual harassment
  Consumption Human rights Sexuality
  Corporal punishment Human trafficking Shopping while black
  Crime, nonviolent Hunger Single parenting
  Crime, violent Illiteracy Social media
  Critical feminist theory Immigration Social networks
  Critical race theory Inequality Spouse abuse, intimate partner abuse  
  Cults, cultic personalities Legalization of marijuana State policies, laws
  Cultural sociology Libraries Stem cell research
  Cultural storytelling Literacy Stereotypes
  Date rape Loneliness, social aspects Steroid use in sports
  Debt Mass media Student debt
  Deprivation Mass murder Student loans
  Disabilities rights Men Substance abuse
  Disaster relief Mental health Suicide
  Disaster response Minimum wage laws Sweat shops
  Distribution of wealth Multiculturalism  Taxes, tax policies
  Divorce Narcissism, social aspects Teen pregnancy
  Domestic abuse Nationalism Teenagers
  Domestic terrorism Native American rights Terrorism
  Dominant culture Natural disasters Tea Party
  Driving while black New religious movements Toxic masculinity
  Drug laws, policies Obesity Underrepresented groups
  Drug use Occupy Wall Street Union busting
  Eating disorders Opiods Unions
  Education Organic, definition Upward mobility
  Education reform Outsourcing Vigilantism
  Elderly Overpopulation Violence in schools
  Environmental pollution Parenting, social aspects Voter disenfrachisement
  Environmental racism Patriotism Voter suppression
  Equal pay Pay gap Voting rights, restrictions
  Ethnic bias, prejudice Police brutality War
  Ethnic discrimination Political divide Welfare state
      White-collar crime
      Workplace issues
      Workplace violence