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A central value of the UNCG Sociology department is social justice, a concept which, inter alia, directs attention to the disproportionate amount of power in the hands of white men and how social institutions generate, reproduce, and reflect this power relationship. Criminal justice, like other social institutions, is epiphenomenal in design, function, and execution as it is based on a society’s fundamental structural, cultural, and interactional components. Any specific problem in society can be linked to these structures and contexts, and the unjust and unlawful use of force by the state and its agents fits squarely into the parameters of sociological inquiry.

UNCG Sociology offers courses that enable students to study, unpack, interrogate, and envision solutions to endemic social problems like racist criminal justice institutions and practices, poverty, sexism, homophobia, oppression, and classism. Many of our professors write papers and books that in one way or another wrestle with ways in which humans, groups, institutions, and societies can be differently organized to ameliorate suffering, state violence, oppression, discrimination, inequality, and many other social problems.

As Head of UNCG Sociology, I invite you to see events – especially manifestations of racism and state violence – through the intellectual lens of sociology, which allows us to understand the vertical and horizontal connections between systems, structures, culture, interaction, and individuals.

I join the American Sociological Association, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, the American Society of Criminology, and the UNCG Chancellor and Dean of Arts and Sciences in condemning the unlawful use of force by police in the cases of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the regularly occurring reported and unreported discriminatory actions perpetrated by the state and state agents against communities of color and the poor.

— Dr. David Kauzlarich, Professor of Sociology and Department Head