Sharable Sociology Theory


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Editorial Note:​

Part of Applied Worldwide's mission is to relate sociology to everyday life. In order to accomplish this mission we aim to acknowledge and spread awareness of the many theories that have been produced in the discipline. In doing so we have produced and distributed many graphics related to social theory across our social media platforms. On this page you will find a collection of our social theory graphics. You are free to share these graphics on your own social media pages or use them in teaching materials. Enjoy!


Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, has become increasingly popular in sociological research. The general idea of intersectionality, however, has been a part of sociological research for decades. It started with efforts to center the often marginalized experiences of women of color by black feminist scholars like Patrica Hill Collins and bell hooks. 

Class Stratification


Some folks would argue that inequality is fine if it is truly based on a meritocratic system where personal effort determines social standing. However, sociological research tells us time and time again that true meritocracies are rare, if they exist at all. Therefore, what sociologists really care about is inequality that is predictable and structured based on social categories. They care about inequality that results when seemingly meritocratic systems do not work as promised. This type of inequality is called stratification.

Inequality can be stratified across many lines, including gender, race, class, age, etc. The figure here shows a simple depiction of class stratification in the U.S.

Agents of Socialization


An agent of socialization is an individual, group or institution that contributes to people's socialization, which is the process of learning to behave in normative ways that are socially acceptable.

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Conflict Theory

Conflict theory is at the core of sociological thought on inequality. Of course, newer theories take more than social class into account when delving into social inequalities (e.g., critical race theory), but we love using this "cake" figure to teach students about class conflict, which we then use as a building block to dive deeper into gender, race, and other social structures of inequality.

The Looking Glass Self


"The Looking Glass Self" is a sociological concept developed by Charles Horton Cooley that explains how our perceptions of how others perceive us influence our perceptions of our selves. The way we imagine others view us and judge us greatly impacts our development of what sociologists call "the self." In that sense, sociologists don't see the self as existing in a vacuum, but rather as a socially constructed understanding of who we are as individuals within our social environments.

Parsons' Systems Theory

Parsons' Systems Theory


Systems Theory is incredibly useful for introducing students to ideas around institutionalization, internalization, and socialization. We've found that teaching Parsons' Systems Theory can be extremely effective in getting students to understand the unparalleled influence of social institutions on our individual lives.

Structure and Agency


Structure vs. Agency: a classic and important point of discussion in sociology. I use this illustration at least a dozen times when I’m teaching to remind students that sociologists always contextualize “free choice” within the social structures that constrain those “choices.”

Cultural Health Capital


Coined by sociologist Janet Shim, Cultural Health Capital describes a specialized form of cultural capital that is beneficial to patients in healthcare settings. Shim talks about CHC as a collection of patient characteristics that includes cognitive, behavioral, social, and cultural tools that allow patients to effectively communicate with healthcare providers. Anything from having "knowledge of medical topics and vocabulary," to having "the ability to communicate social privilege" can benefit patients with access to such tools in tremendous ways.

Simmel's Web of Group Affiliations


This simple, yet effective, figure of social theorist Georg Simmel's web of group affiliation can be a great way to help students visualize how varying group affiliations are intertwined with the individual.

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Simmel's Web of Group Affiliations