The Department of Sociology and Anthropology integrates two disciplines, benefiting from their shared interests while maintaining their distinct identities. The department is committed to pursuing matters that anthropology and sociology have shared since their inception—understanding the imprint of culture on all social life, the significance of power for human institutions, the value of comparative, global analysis, and the importance of scholarship that engages the most pressing public concerns.
The department's undergraduate and graduate programs are designed to take advantage of Mason's proximity to the nation's capital. The academic programs in sociology and anthropology hold an increasing relevance for policymakers, concerned citizens, and many professionals in the post-9/11 world.
Students and faculty conduct research on a wide range of topics with lasting impact.
Sociology provides a systematic way to study issues of justice and inequality, freedom and social control, and institutions and social identity. Sociologists ask how social movements arise, how racial categories are constructed, how notions of deviance take shape, and how social inequality shapes our lives. In short, sociology seeks to grasp human behavior in all its varied forms. The sociological imagination is an important catalyst for effective public debates and decisions about important social issues --especially so in a setting marked by rapid cultural and economic change.
Anthropology is the study of human similarities and differences and their impact on a wide range of social phenomena. The salient features of our epoch—global communications, a world market, mass migrations, urban growth, and intra- as well as international conflict—underscore the importance of understanding societies in all their cultural complexity and variety. Anthropologists innovate methods uniquely suited to studying social phenomena at different scales within a historical and political context. Through a range of research methods anthropologists analyze what unites diverse peoples as well as what distinguishes them from one another.