What Is Not Sociology?
In addition to considering what sociology actually is as a way to help identify a sociological research topic, it is worth considering what sociology is not. While the differences between sociology and chemical engineering may be pretty clear, there are other disciplines with which sociology shares interests and the lines between these disciplines may get blurred at times. Thinking about sociology’s similarities to and differences from other disciplines can help us frame a research question that is indeed sociological.
For example, many students pursue double majors in sociology and psychology. While the two disciplines are complementary, they are not the same. Consider the topic of gang membership. While a psychologist may be interested in identifying what traumatic personal experiences or emotional state might drive a person to join a gang, a sociologist is more likely to examine whether there are patterns in terms of who joins gangs. Are members of some social classes more