The American Sociologist

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 67–86 | Cite as

A view from above: The evolving sociological landscape

  • James Moody
  • Ryan Light


How has sociology evolved over the last 40 years? In this paper, we examine networks built on thousands of sociology-relevant papers to map sociology’s position in the wider social sciences and identify changes in the most prominent research fronts in the discipline. We find first that sociology seems to have traded centrality in the field of social sciences for internal cohesion: sociology is central, but not nearly as well bounded as neighboring disciplines such as economics or law. Internally, sociology appears to have moved away from research topics associated with fundamental social processes and toward social-problems research. We end by discussing strategies for extending this work to wider science production networks.


American Sociological Review Sociological Publication Topic Cluster Coauthorship Network Social Science Journal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbott, Andrew. 2001. Chaos of Disciplines. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  2. Baldi, Stephane. 1998. “Normative versus Social Constructivist Processes in the Allocation of Citations: A Network Analytic Model.” American Sociological Review 63: 829–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bender-deMoll, Skye and Daniel A. McFarland. 2006. “The Art and Science of Dynamic Network Visualization.” Journal of Social Structure (Forthcoming).Google Scholar
  4. Callon, Michel, John Law, and Arie Rip. 1986. Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House).Google Scholar
  5. Cappell, Charles L. and Thomas M. Guterbock. 1992. “Visible Colleges: The Social and Conceptual Structure of Sociology Specialties.” American Sociological Review 57: 266–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Courtial, Jean-Pierre and John Law. 1989. “A Co-Word Study of Artificial Intelligence.” Social Studies of Science 19:301–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Daipha, Phaedra. 2001. “The Intellects and Social Organization of ASA 1990-1997.” The American Sociologist 32: 73–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Durkheim, Emile. 1966. The Rules of Sociological Method. Translators Sarah A. Solovay and John H. Mueller. (Toronto, Ontario: The Free Press).Google Scholar
  9. Ennis, James G. 1992. “The Social Organization of Sociological Knowledge: Modeling the Intersection of Specialties.” American Sociological Review 57: 259–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Freeman, Linton. C. 1972. “Segregation in Social Networks.” Sociological Methods and Research 6:411–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frickel, Scott and Neil Gross. 2005. “A General Theory of Scientific/Intellectual Movements.” American Sociological Review 70: 204–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Friedrichs, Robert W. 1970. A Sociology of Sociology (New York: Free Press).Google Scholar
  13. Garfield, Eugene, Irving H. Sher, and Richard J. Toprie. 1964. The Use of Citation Data in Writing the History of Science (Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Scientific Information).Google Scholar
  14. Gieryn, Thomas F. 1999. Cultural Boundaries of Science: Credibility on the Line (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  15. Gouldner, Alvin W. 1970. The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology (New York: Basic Books).Google Scholar
  16. Griffith, Belver C, Henry G. Small, Judith A. Stonehill, and Sandra Dey. 1974. “The Structure of Scientific Literatures II: Toward a Macro-Microstructure for Science.” Science Studies 4: 339–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guimera, Roger and Luis A. N. Amaral. 2005. “Functional Cartography of Complex Metabolic Networks.” Nature 433: 895–900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hargens, Lowell. 2000. “Using the Literature: Reference Networks, Reference Contexts, and the Social Structure of Scholarship.” American Sociological Review 65: 846–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. He, Q. 1999. “Knowledge Discovery through Co-Word Analysis.” Library Trends 48: 133–159.Google Scholar
  20. Horowitz, Irving L. 1993. The Decomposition of Sociology (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  21. Kling, Rob. 1990. “More INformation, Better Jobs? Occupational Stratification and Labor-Markets Segmentation in the United States’ Information Labor Force.” The Information Society 7: 77–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  23. Law, John, S Bauin, J.P. Courtial, and John Whittaker. 1988. “Policy and the Mapping of Scientific Change: A Co-Word Analysis of Research in to Environmental Acidification.” Scientometric 14: 251–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Leydesdorff, Loet. 2004. “Top-Down Decomposition of the Journal Citation Report of the Social Science Citation Index: Graph and Factor-Analytic Approaches.” Scientometrics 60: 159–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Light, Ryan. 2004. “Balkanized or Boundless: The Structure of American Sociological Publication.” Masters Thesis, The Ohio State University. Google Scholar
  26. Moody, James. 2001. “Peer Influence Groups: Identifying Dense Clusters in Large Networks.” Social Networks 23: 261–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. —. 2004. “The Structure of a Social Science Collaboration Network: Disciplinary Cohesion from 1963-1999.” American Sociological Review 69: 213–238.Google Scholar
  28. Moody, James, Daniel A. McFarland, and Skye Bender-DeMoll. 2005. “Dynamic Network Visualization.” American Journal of Sociology 110: 1206–1241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pool, Ithiel d. S. and Manfred Kochen. 1978. “Contacts and Influence.” Social Networks 1: 5–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shiffrin, Richard M. and Katy Borner. 2004. “Mapping Knowledge Domains.” Proceedings of the National Academies of Science 101: 5183–5185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Small, Henry and Belver C. Griffith. 1974. “The Structure of Scientific Literatures I: Identifying and Graphing Specialties.” Science Studies 4: 17–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Turner, Stephen and Jonathan Turner. 1990. The Impossible Science: An Institutional Analysis of American Sociology (Newbury Park, CA: Sage).Google Scholar
  33. Whittaker, John, Jean-Pierre Courtial, and John Law. 1989. “Creativity and Conformity in Science: Titles, Keywords & Co-Word Analysis.” Social Studies of Science 19: 473–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Moody
  • Ryan Light

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations