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What Is Community Sociology?

By Megan Shoop
Updated May 23, 2024
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Community sociology is the study of the people in a particular community. It is usually seen as a very tricky subject because the definition of a community is so broad. The term may refer to a certain town, or a certain age group in a specific town. It may also include people in an entire city or state. Most kinds of community sociology focus on a single community and study its inner workings. Sociologists are usually interested in how people in communities act toward one another, treat strangers, and how they interact during periods of crisis and calm.

Those who study community sociology often narrow their focuses to a single, very small community of people. This means that such a social scientist might study a community without overlapping into the research area of another sociologist. For instance, two scientists studying the same town might focus on two very different communities. One might concentrate on the teenagers in the town, while another studies the women there. Each sociologist might also choose a certain age group or niche within these communities on which to focus.

Other types of community sociology might examine much larger groups. For instance, one expert could focus on the community of lesbian women in the United States. This is an example of a community that is connected by a common characteristic rather than a common location. Communities like this are part of what can make community sociology so in-depth and complicated. Plus, in this example, a sociologist could easily split the U.S. lesbian community into smaller groups like African-American lesbians, Christian lesbians, and Muslim lesbians. Often, each of these sub-communities has different values, wants, needs, and causes.

When conducting community sociology research, the sociologist usually begins by examining how the members of the community behave. For example, a group of teenagers in a small, rural town might be disrespectful to those over 18 years old, enjoy staying out past the town curfew, and have poor grades. The sociologist might then look at why this community behaves in this way. In this example, the teens’ behavior might stem from a lack of the proper stimulation. In other words, they might be bored in school and feel unable to express themselves in a healthy way.

The above conclusions about the teens’ behavior illustrate why objectivity is important in community sociology. Every community has a motive for its actions and behaviors, even if those behaviors are damaging to others. The reasons likely make a lot of sense to the community itself, even if those outside it don’t understand. Community sociology can be applied by helping people communicate with each other and live more peacefully.

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Discussion Comments

By anon283011 — On Aug 01, 2012

As a community sociologist, how do you carry out community participation in the community in the health care programs?

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