Interpreting the thorny questions arising in modern times – whether inequality, environmental crises, or social identity – requires a strong understanding of the path that society has taken to bring us where we are today. Our study of sociology, socio-legal studies, criminology, and social justice gives students powerful tools for grasping clearly the world’s countless international and domestic issues. Our commitment to research and teaching helps explain why our sociology program placed 26th internationally in the 2021 QS World University rankings.
Through our discipline, you can gain exposure to four world-renowned initiatives:
Sociologists study social life, institutions and social change, explore how the modern world came into being and how it might develop in the future. Studying Sociology will enable you to recognise, research and analyse the dynamics of power and inequality in our everyday lives and the organisation of society.
Criminology is devoted to the study of crime and its causes, deviance, social control and the operation of the criminal justice system, examining topics such as policing, youth justice, prisons and punishment, surveillance, crime and media, Indigenous justice, forensics, and corporate and state crime.
Human rights combines social, scientific and legal approaches and provides a holistic perspective on human rights and social change. The course addresses human rights violations at local, national, regional and global levels.
Peace and Conflict Studies focuses on the interconnections between peace, conflict, justice and human rights. From conflict transformation after mass violence to the role of the media in peace building, Peace and Conflict Studies explores the intellectual and practical challenges of attaining peace with justice.
Confront the challenges of achieving just and sustainable development outcomes that will improve people’s social, economic and cultural lives.
Social policy is concerned with a range of questions including: How will wealth and wellbeing be distributed in the 21st century? Do social policies challenge or reinforce inequality? How does Australia compare to other nations on measures of welfare?
Socio-Legal Studies is the study of legal ideas, practices and institutions in their social, historical and political contexts. It explores the ways laws are made and enforced as well as the impact of legal practices on our everyday lives and the organisation of society. You will learn to understand how the law operates across different societies, and gain research and analytical skills that are highly desired by employers in private industry, non-profit organisations, and the government sector.
From academic work to commissioned reports, from popular press to podcasts, our Discipline’s research delves deeply into the world’s most pressing theoretical and practical issues. Research topics have included disarmament, human rights and corporate responsibility, Aboriginal night patrols, non-violent policing, the effects of racism on Lebanese youth in Western Sydney, and justice and reconciliation in Rwanda, Cambodia and East Timor.
Currently, our research is grouped around the following thematic clusters:
Knowledge is a central feature of contemporary economies, societies and personal lives. Our scholars embrace cutting-edge approaches to knowledge, including southern theory, world society theory and Legitimation Code Theory, that represent a unique combination of insights within one department. Studies cover a distinctively broad range of areas, from school classrooms to disciplinary history, from global flows of knowledge to local interactions between individuals. Work in this theme has been recognised within and beyond the University with the award of a SOAR fellowship, the LCT Centre for Knowledge-Building, and an ARC Discovery Grant focused on Knowledge-Making in Australian Society: Sociology and it's Social Impact.
Karl Maton, Fran Collyer, Salvatore Babones, Dr Ben Manning, Dr Leah Williams Veazey, Sharon Aris (HDR), Elena Lambrinos (HDR), Patrick Locke (HDR), Mauricio Quilpatay (HDR), Saul Richardson (HDR), Mathew Toll (HDR), Zhigang Yu (HDR), Rurong Le (HDR).
Brings together key scholars who investigate death and trauma arising from physical and structural violence, focusing on questions such as:
Catriona Elder, Robert van Krieken, Michael Humphrey, Sonja van Wichelen, Rebecca Bray, Greg Martin, Fiona Gill, Allen George, Karen O’Brien, Danielle Celermajer and Estrella Pearce.
People today face conflicting demands to “be themselves” in a cosmopolitan and hyper-public, mediatized world. Within instituted hierarchies and social networks, dialectics of control permeate struggles for authenticity and autonomy and attempts to form meaningful relationships with others. Our research explores these paradoxes of authenticity and community, their impact on the emotions and capacity for intimacy, and the broader implications for personal freedom, social imaginaries, and global modernity.
Craig Browne, Jennifer Wilkinson, Salvatore Babones, Karen O’Brien and Tim Soutphommasame.
- On Hate
Drawing from emerging fields such as science and technology studies, animal studies, posthumanism, environmental humanities, new materialism and critical race studies, our researchers seeks to reconceptualise societies in ways that focus attention on the social, political and economic dynamics of life (human and non-human), networks, technologies and environment, and to questions of justice amongst them. This grouping involves scholars engaged in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences FutureFix BioHumanity and Multispecies Justice research themes. In addition, scholars involved in Posthuman Socialities convene the Biopolitics of Science Research Network and the Human Animal Research Network.
David Bray, Dinesh Wadiwel, Danielle Celermajer, Nadine Ehlers, Sonja van Wichelen
Examines the logics of asset-based capitalism and investigates the new forms of inequality and precarity accompanying its rise. It looks at everything from the high rentier economies of energy monopolies, urban infrastructure booms and intellectual property regimes, to the everyday rentierism of negatively geared investors and the work/rentier hybrids represented by Airbnb hosts and uber drivers. The theme involves scholars engaged in the FASS FutureFix Asset Ownership and New Forms of Inequality research theme and the Collaborative Research Support Initiative on Energy It's Institutions, Networks and Lived Experiences.
Melinda Cooper, Amanda Elliot, Michael Humphrey, Lisa Adkins, Monique Mackenzie (HDR), Greta Werner (HDR) and Carolyn Vaughn Brennan (HDR)
Honorary Professor Stephen Castles
The Discipline of Sociology and Criminology remembers with great respect and affection the life of Professor Stephen Castles who passed away in August 2022.
Stephen was a leading international scholar in the field of migration and published landmark works which will remain classics for generations. His work – clear, comprehensive, and always attentive to structural elements that informed migration and refugee flows – has laid the foundation for countless scholars that follow him. He spent the longest period of his career at the Centre for Multicultural Studies at the University of Wollongong, where he engaged in a great deal of policy work for the government. It is also where he met his wife, sociologist Ellie Vasta. Following that, he served as the Director of the Refugee Studies at the University of Oxford, which he led with great equanimity and force. His final position prior to retirement was the University of Sydney, where he led a young group of PhD scholars on a major ARC project that delved deeply into the force of social transformation and its relationship to migration. Stephen was dedicated to his students and treated them with great respect, and in turn, they adored him. Throughout his illustrious career he used his stellar reputation to promote the rights of refugees and migrants, serving on advisory boards and participating in policy working groups. He was greatly appreciated by his department colleagues as warm, humorous and intellectually engaged, always willing to contribute to the common good. Stephen’s enormous network of family, friends and academics will miss him greatly and always remember him.
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