Principles of Sociology

Sociology systematically studies how groups of people are affected differently by human behavior patterns. A deeper understanding of how people make sense of their lives and act to create, maintain, and change the world around them accordingly can aid us in improving our own lives and the lives of others. This is but one short summary of what some people ("process" sociologists particularly) believe the essence of sociology to be.... there are many other different and sometimes rivaling conceptualizations.


This is an open source curricular module, not a "course" in the traditional sense. There are no schedules, due dates, or tests as would be found in traditional higher education settings. Since there are no real "correct" answers for students to [re]produce, there is no one hallowed book of knowledge to be had here. Instead, what this medium offers is the promise of effectively compiling and organizing virtually unlimited information resources from which users can pick and choose from as they see fit or their situation demands. What may be lost via lack of corporeality, temporality, and formality in the way of grades and credits can be made up for in the expansive potential for discovery based learning in such a novel context. I hope this space will develop into a repository for a multiplicity of perspectives and intellectual exercises built for people looking for interesting and diverse segways into the study of human societies. To begin, I have made my uncopyrighted materials for the course I teach at the University of Florida available here and hope that other educators, interested parties, and diligent students will soon add on to this scaffolding. Perhaps the "experts" who come forth to contribute to this project will also make themselves available to answer questions that truly inquiring minds must produce. This model should foster an enlarged body of engaged participants that become invested in adding onto and improving this forum exponentially, as is the greatest promise and observed tendency of wikis everywhere.


Our textbook, should you choose to accept it, is a Introduction to Sociology open source ebook. The topics below correspond to the organization found in this text.


The weakest link in this format is its lack of structure or accountability. Utilizing the information optimally will likely be difficult for most folks who just drop in and browse around at will. Instead, I would suggest that students follow the material in a somewhat linear manner, at least until (hopefully) the topics below become so diversified that this path becomes unwieldy. Please, fret not that the lack of testing of your reading comprehension via multiple choice assesments means that you will not really "learn" anything, for there exists a superior pedagogical strategy that is uniquely facilitated by open source wikis such as this one. The key to really "getting" this stuff is to "make it your own" by criticizing it and creatively expanding on it. This means that you should actively try to edit all the materials you encounter. Now, arbitrary and/or uninformed changes are not the goal here - instead, you should spend a significant amount of time wrestling intellectually with the ideas and exploring the issues and concepts on wikipedia that relate to the particular discussion topic at hand. The discussion space for each subtopical article is the perfect place to start broaching ideas for substansive changes, but you can also use the email contacts below. The main idea here is that the level of learning you achieve through this activity will be directly proportionate to the amount of time and effort you expend trying to contribute to the materials via attempting to improve them. In fact, a diligent student could make big contributions by simply linking the somewhat obscure terms found throughout the texts to wikipedia articles. More in depth work would include stepping beyond existing materials and developing new discussions of interesting and relevant subject matters. A full assimilation of the knowledge found herein is best achieved by utilizing it in a wholly new context, that is, by writing new articles, hopefully suplemented by outside information sources and multimedia of all kinds.


  • Alexevasion - Alex Goldman, M.A. - PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Florida and primary architect of this module -
  • Rcragun - Ryan T. Cragun - PhD student at the University of Cincinnati - primary architect and contributor to the etextbook referenced above