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In applied sociology

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout

The community empowerment web site is a good source for getting topics for research in applied sociology


The difference between applied sociology and pure sociology is that pure sociology aims to find out "What is" about how society works, while applied sociology seeks to take what is learned in pure sociology and use it for solving practical (social) problems.

This page is for sociology students wishing to find suitable essay or research topics in Applied Sociology.

The Community Empowerment site is a major collection of training material in applied sociology.

It is aimed at community workers with middle school education, and provides them with skills and strategies to help low income communities become to better organized, more active, and more self reliant.

For students seeking to choose research or essay topics, the CMP site has many practical applications of sociology, which reflect the many topics in pure sociology that are available.

The purpose of this paper is to note some of them, and perhaps something here will touch your fancy for a topic to examine in more depth.


The sociology of commensality is about who eats with whom, and why.

This can be an important topic in applied sociology as a community worker helps communities to arrange community dinners and the feeding of community members when working on self help projects.

See Eating with Friends.


Social Work in Canada and other Western nations is not very social in how it is practised by professional social workers.

For the most part, social workers deal with "cases" consisting of individuals or families, and their work tends to be focused on alleviating individual problems, rather than solving social problems or finding social solutions.

The development of a community based social work (CBSW) programme in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, faced with too many clients and not enough social service officers, is a big contrast.

Look at CBSW and ask if it has lessons which can be learned in Canada for using a community as a medium of intervention.


Female Genital Mutilation, or circumcision for girls, is illegal in Canada.

Unlike much violence towards women, perpetrated by men, this is often organized by older women, and is usually approved by the community where it is practised.

The role of the community worker is described in the training document, FGM, but it will also give you a good idea of what the practice is, and the sociological dilemmas it poses.


It never hurts to learn how to write better.

The module, Writing Reports, although it has a focus on reports, has many tips that will be useful in writing research reports, exams and essays.

By the way, my short paper, Errors, describes some of my pet peeves of writing mistakes, and it will be to your advantage to know them.


For those of you who want or need to improve your management skills, sociological principles are included in three modules about management on the CMP site: Management Training, Participatory Management and Managing a Mobilising Programme.


If you are interested in gender or feminist approaches to sociology, look at the training document on Gender.

If you are interested in comparative sociology, and the concept of covert gynocracy (hidden power of women) in matrilineal societies, see Covert Gynocracy.


If the sociology of religion attracts you, see the description of Akan traditional religious ideas in Three Souls.

That paper is illustrated with my Akan section on spirit possession.

Compare with Notes on Religion.


If you are a member of a not-for-profit organization, and looking for funding, the module, Resource Acquisition,  will be of some help.


If you are planning to do some community research, the module, Community Research, has lots of guidance on methods and topics.


If you want to engage in research to measure changes in strength or capacity of an organization or a community, see the two modules: Measuring Community Strength, Strengthening an Organization.


If you are interested in the process of pedagogy, the science of how we learn (ref our topics on socialization), and on teaching methods, then you might look at the module, Training Methods, especially for some unorthodox methods.

If you are attracted to unorthodox methods, the module, Functional Literacy, provides many sociological reasons for adopting alternate methods of teaching.


Some of my research in West Africa is used in my giving advice to the Refugee Board of Canada as people seek asylum.  See Correspondence.


There are many topics on the CMP site.  It will be interesting and useful for you to look through both the Modules page, and the Site Map to find more than are listed and briefly described here.

If you copy text from this site, please acknowledge the author(s)
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© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
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Last update: 2013.01.09

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