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Sociology: Quick start

Resources for research in sociology


"The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden." - Pierre Bourdieu

This introduction offers sources and tips for navigating the library's range of materials in sociology.  Sociology can be interdisciplinary, so if you're struggling to find something, you might also want to check out the guides for anthropology, psychology, social welfare or economics--or contact your librarian! 

Quick Links

Don't have much time and need to get started quickly?

1. Search our library catalog to find books, ebooks, and DVDs in the library.

2. Search Sociological Abstracts or ProQuest Social Sciences for articles and book reviews.

3. Search Web of Science and Scopus to find book chapters.

4. Search for your topic + "social aspects," "sociological aspects," or "sociology of" on Google Scholar.

5. If you find a key article, type the title on Google Scholar and click "cited by" to see who else is using that work.

6. Come visit one of the many campus libraries to study, or email the librarian to talk about your research!

Handbooks, Encyclopedias, etc.

UC Library Search (short version)

 UC Library Search infographic about what is included

UC Library Search is the University of California's unified discovery and borrowing system.

Access it directly or from the Library homepage to find most UC books, articles, media, archival collections, and more.

See the UC Library Search User Guide and ask for research help 24/7 for more information.

Search Tips

1. Have a question, or a fuzzy idea. What social and cultural factors influence the decision to text while operating a vehicle? is great. Why do people text while driving is a good place to start, as well.

2. Browse encyclopedias or Wikipedia to get a quick overview, or search a general database like Academic Search Complete  and read an article or two to learn what’s out there on your topic.

3. Come up with a list of words to search in our sociology databases.  Don't be afraid to search for related topics like mobile phone use, distracted driving, etc.  Synonyms are your friends!

4. Know how Google Scholar + library catalogs and databases work, and try each one for a major project.

  • Use an asterisk: driv* gives you results for driv-ing, driv-ers, driv-en, etc,
  • Try all spellings if applicable (driver's licence and license)
  • Use related terms for topics or people groups: mobile OR cell phone, young OR youth OR teen driver
  • Switch it up and keep searching. Like a puzzle app, it can take a while to unlock what you're looking for!

5. Download and read a few related articles. Their mention of other articles will give you ideas for other resources.

6. You probably won't find the perfect article. No one else is going to make your argument for you in a single article. Instead, you'll need to combine ideas from other authors on related topics or cultures to make your own argument for how societies are the way they are. That's sociology!

7. Get help. Use the 20-minute rule. If you're still struggling after 20 minutes of searching, email a librarian for an appointment.

Contact Your Librarian

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Ann Glusker
Social Research Library
227 Haviland Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000