Rationale for the Site
In 2001, the elected Council of the American Sociological Association (ASA) launched a Task Force with the goal of creating a curriculum for an advanced high school sociology course that could also serve as a model for introductory sociology courses in colleges and universities. The goal was to enhance students’ understanding of the social world, increase their motivation and interest in studying the social world scientifically, help them in their postsecondary education and work experiences, with the long-term goal of creating individual and societal benefits. A second goal was to use the potential of the world wide web to offer students multiple ways of learning— through active engagement, observation of the social world, explorations of quality data, visual materials, and reading. The web resources collected here are meant to supplement in-class discussion and analysis, not substitute for them.
Introducing sociological principles to adolescents can be especially valuable for their development as they make the transition from adolescence into adulthood. Adolescence is a time when young people begin exploring their place in the world, testing a variety of identities, and imagining their futures. Because sociology is the study of society, it can help adolescents understand their own world and the world of adults as they begin to plan for their future educational plans and occupational choices. Sociology is concerned with topics of particular interest to adolescents, such as peer groups, marital formation, deviance, inequality, and substance abuse. These topics are also developmentally relevant to young adults as they transition from their families and high school into the freedom and responsibilities of college life and the labor force.
Sociology courses provide opportunities to extend and deepen analytic skills critical to successful transitions from high school to postsecondary education and beyond. By emphasizing the use of scientific evidence to investigate, quantify and interpret phenomena that occur in the social world, sociology reinforces the primary principles of scientific inquiry and relies on observation, logic, data and analysis, and presents opportunities to develop skills and tools that are useful in the acquisition of knowledge. A sociological perspective underscores the importance of examining society with a critical eye and questioning assumptions, stereotypes and generalizations that underlie conventional social interactions and beliefs about one’s world. Given the increasing importance of developing stronger numeracy and literacy skills for college attendance and persistence, sociology can serve as a way of extending and deepening these skills in high school and beginning undergraduate students.