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Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Michigan Sociological Review


Michigan Sociological Association

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Abstract/ Summary

An attendee of a workshop on teaching high school sociology at the 2003 ASA annual meeting raised a fundamental question for which sociologists currently have no answer: Why is a sociology course offered in some high schools but not in others? The only empirical study that has attempted to answer this question is more than 20 years old. After analyzing a dataset from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and questionnaire and interview data collected from high school sociology teachers in Connecticut, I argue that the decision to offer a sociology course is made at the level of individual schools. It is not influenced by community- level variables, as previous research has suggested. Four factors in particular affect sociology's existence in high school curricula: student interest and enrollment, teacher changes and shortages, ongoing curriculum revision, and the prevalence of standardized testing. In conclusion, I recommend ways in which sociologists and ASA representatives might take these results into account as they continue to lobby for increasing sociology 's presence in high school curricula.

Publisher Statement

© 2006 Michigan Sociological Review, the official publication of the Michigan Sociological Association. Journal website available from: