From the CSA – what is applied sociology?

Applied sociology is the use of sociological theory, methods, skills and research in order to resolve particular issues in real-world settings.  Examples can include:

  • program evaluation geared to making improvements in a social program so that it works better for clients/users;
  • working with a hospital or community health centre to improve access to health services for people with low literacy skills;
  • designing surveys and collecting data for purposes of tracking public opinion, creating profiles of various populations (e.g. Aboriginal Peoples), or measuring change in specific social indicators (fertility, cohabitation, poverty, educational attainment, racism, happiness, etc.);
  • studying the social impact of emergency communications during and after a crisis so that emergency planners can improve communications procedures;
  • working with a community organization to establish an evidence-based program for disadvantaged youth;
  • conducting participatory action research in partnership with a community to find out what kind of economic development would work for that community;
  • understanding and resolving issues in group and organizational dynamics within an institution;
  • turning evidence about equity into organizational and public policy.

Applied sociology is putting sociology in practice.

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