American Sociological Association

Does the Center Hold? Reflections on a Sociological Core

Is there a distinct disciplinary core (or foundation of agreed on knowledge) in sociology? Should we define a core in our broad field to build consensus? If so, what should it look like? We address these questions by presenting three viewpoints that lean for and against identifying a core for department curricula, students, and the public face of sociology. First, "There really is not much, if any, core." Second, sociology is "a habit of the mind" (a sociological imagination). Third, key content of a sociological core can be identified using a long or short list. Centripetal forces pressure the discipline to define itself for assessment, transfer articulations, general education, the trend toward interdisciplinary courses, and the public face of sociology. We describe previous efforts for the introductory course and sociology curricula. We conclude with a discussion of everyday practices in sociology that are built on the conception of a core.


Ballantine, J., Greenwood, N., Howard, J. R., Kain, E. L., Pike, D., Schwartz, M., Smith, R. T., Zipp, J. F.





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