Department Overview

Our Past and Present

The Department of Sociology was established as an academic unit in LSU’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1928. Prior to that time, sociology was a component of the Department of Economics and Sociology. At its inception, Fred C. Frey was the Department’s sole member. Dr. Frey completed his PhD at the University of Minnesota under the direction of Pitirim Sorokin, one of the most important early figures in American sociology. In the years that followed, the faculty and student ranks in the Department grew. In addition to undergraduate instruction, the Department began training graduate students, awarding its first MA in 1931 and first PhD in 1937.

Today, the Department continues to carry on a tradition of dedication to research and teaching as a unit in LSU’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences. Our faculty pursues nationally and internationally recognized research on basic and applied social science questions. We serve over 400 undergraduate majors and 200 undergraduate minors, and make an important contribution to LSU’s general education mission. We are also home to a vibrant PhD program with about 50 graduate students, offering the only PhD in sociology in the State of Louisiana. Our graduate students come from across the United States (currently we have students from Louisiana, Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other states) and from several other countries (currently from Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Ghana, India, Scotland, and Turkey). Typical graduate "cohorts" consists of 6-13 students, with most funded through graduate assistantships, fellowships, or grants. The Sociology Graduate Student Organization (SGSA) is our student organization that seeks to provide sociology graduate students with enhanced scholarship and fellowship experiences at LSU. Our PhD alumni work, again, across the United States and the world. Most attain professorial positions in US colleges and universities. Others have pursued careers in research institutions, governmental agencies, and private industries.

Our current faculty pursues nationally and internationally recognized research on basic and applied social science questions. While an array of research interests exist among faculty, the department has particularly strong expertise in three  general research areas. The department is also methodologically diverse employing a variety of quantitative (e.g., spatial analysis, social network analysis, survey, and longitudinal modeling) and qualitative (e.g., participant observation, ethnography, video ethnography) approaches.


An interdisciplinary field that studies the causes, manifestations, consequences, control, and prevention of criminal behavior at both the individual and societal levels. While the general focus of the Sociology’s faculty members at LSU is on the community and neighborhood correlates of crime, their research spans many substantive areas including violence, sexual victimization, formal/informal policing strategies, gangs, gentrification and crime, and cultural influences on crime. Their research utilizes both qualitative (i.e., ethnography) and quantitative (i.e., statistical, spatial, and social network analysis) methodologies.

Scholars working in criminology include Barton, Becker, Chauvin, Lee, Shihadeh, and Stevenson

Social Inequality

A central component to the discipline of sociology. Social inequality involves building an understanding of the structure, causes, and consequences of the unequal distribution of material and symbolic rewards in society. The faculty at LSU examine social inequality as it applies to topics including communities and regions, education, gender and sexuality, globalization and development, marriage and family, race and ethnicity, social demography and population change, and work and labor markets. 

Scholars working in social inequality include Barton, Becker, Berkowitz, Blanchard, Gremillion, Kamo, Kroeger, O'Connell, Rackin, Schafer, Shihadeh, Shrum, Slack, Smiley, Stroope, Thomas & Walker

Social Capital

Focuses on the connections among people in society. Social capital includes social networks, community, civic participation, and identity and sense of belonging. Research on social capital carried out by members of LSU Sociology has explored how social networks affect access to resources after a natural disaster, how a person looks for a job, how new technology spreads in third world countries, how community solidarity can reduce crime, and how religious organizations help integrate immigrants into society. 

Scholars working in social capital include Barton, Lee, Rackin, Shrum, Smiley, Thomas, Walker & Weil