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What Does an Urban Sociologist Do?

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  • Written By: E. Reeder
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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An urban sociologist studies the role of sociology and human interaction, as well as trends and phenomena, in urban settings. Someone employed in this field is a researcher — as are other sociologists — who studies interactions, trends and characteristics of groups of people and of human institutions in different settings, as well as how various cultures relate to one another. An urban sociologist, for example, might study the effects of increased technology, such as computers and cell phones, on interpersonal communication in an urban setting. Aside from conducting original research, such a sociologist might compare previous research studies in urban sociology and consider their implications.

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There is a considerable amount of education and training required for someone to become an urban sociologist. While some sociologists have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree in sociology to carry out their work, it is ideal for someone entering the field of sociology in a specialized field to earn a doctorate in sociology. To specialize in urban sociology, a person might decide to complete his or her dissertation, which is an involved research study, on some area related to urban sociology. Aside from learning about the complexities of sociology, someone studying to become an urban sociologist would need to learn a great deal about statistical analysis and quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research, all of which are used to conduct sociological research studies. An urban sociologist should have a passion for the subject and a belief that the research conducted in his or her field is beneficial and important to humankind.

Work conditions for urban sociologists are like those of other researchers. Universities, governments and businesses, as well as non-profit organizations, might employ them. They likely would have an office and also would be expected to conduct fieldwork. Some urban sociologists conduct research studies, teach urban sociology theories and methods, present their research findings, and publish research results in professional journals or other publications.

An urban sociologist might undertake a research project studying how various subcultures develop and emerge in an urban environment. The effects of the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill on the criminal justice system and nonprofit mental health organizations might be another possible study option for an urban sociologist, who might choose to use his or her results to try to inform the public and to influence policy and law. Another possible topic would be how religious and moral beliefs differ and are manifested in various ways in urban settings versus rural ones. There are myriad different topics that an urban sociologist might decide to study or be directed to study by the organization for which he or she works.

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