© Anu Korhonen

Sociology is a fundamental social science discipline that studies social structures and their changes as well as social activities, values and attitudes. The focus points range from globalisation and entire societies to intimate social relationships. The topics of sociology depend on the societies studied: current research topics include immigration and integration, urban life, the use of media and technologies, financial inequality and the emergence of financial crises. Other important topics include social movements and participation; inequality in health care and other sectors; dependencies; childhood and adolescence; institutions, organisations and communities such as families, cities and the welfare state; as well as social interaction and social networks.


Why do highly educated women have fewer children? Why do those with high incomes live longer? Why do young people follow in their parents’ footsteps when choosing their education? Why is illness more prevalent among widows? Why do social and economic disadvantages seem to be transmitted from one generation to another? Demographic research aims to answer these and many other socially important questions by studying the factors that separate and unite population groups with the help of survey and interview data, population registers and many other statistical resources.

Formal demography looks at the scope and structure of the population as well as births, deaths and migration. Social demography investigates the impact of social factors on health, education, retirement and immigration, as well as the impact of these factors on society in general. The emphasis is less on which social phenomena are actually studied and more on how they are studied. Demographers strive to establish how common a phenomenon is and what social and other factors underlie it.