Sociology Resources on the Internet:
An Introductory Overview


Bradley Nash, Jr. Department of Sociology

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The Internet, the worldwide network of computer networks, is rapidly transforming the production, consumption, and distribution of knowledge and information. Not only is information made available in differing electronic formats and through differing network applications, it is expanding at a most prodigious rate in terms of content. Further, much of the latest research, sociological and otherwise, now finds its way onto the Internet long before it reaches print or other traditional media. Ultimately, then, the ubiquitous nature and exponential growth of electronic networking, coupled with its research relevance, has made coming to terms with the Internet and its resources a most pressing and necessary task for all academics.

The purpose of this document is to provide an introductory overview of selected resources available on the Internet that may be of general interest to sociologists and related social scientists. This is by no means a comprehensive listing of all sociology resources on the Internet. Such a project would be impracticable for two reasons. First, definitional problems regarding precise disciplinary boundaries and the relevance of particular resources would be quite difficult to satisfactorily resolve once and for all. Second, even if a definitional consensus could be reached, the Internet’s enormity and constantly changing nature would render the development of a definitive and comprehensive listing impossible.

The above caveats in mind, I do feel that this overview covers many of the best sociology resources presently available on the Internet. While the influence of my own biases are unavoidable, I have nonetheless tried to judge and incorporate resources in terms of their general research utility and in terms of their appeal to the broadest array of sociological practitioners. Overall, it is hoped that this document will in some way serve as a useful starting point for those sociologists new to electronic networking as well as those more experienced in navigating cyberspace.

Electronic Forums

Also called “listservs”, electronic forums are discussion groups that utilize electronic mail programs. Once subscribed to a listserv, the individual is placed on a mailing list in which they receive e-mail messages from others on the Internet interested in the same subject or issue. The individual can then send their own e-mail message for distribution to the entire list, they can privately reply to specific others on the list, and/or they can simply be a “lurker” on the list (i.e. follow the discussion without participating).

To subscribe to the selected listservs below, send an e-mail message to the address listed after the listname. The text of the message usually requires four words only: Sub Listname First-name Last-name (some systems may require “subscribe” or “sign-on” instead of “sub”). Once you have been added to a listserv, you should receive a fairly lengthy message that describes the group, lists various options and commands, and, most importantly, tells you how to unsubscribe from the group..


The Gopher program was invented at the University of Minnesota, home of the Golden Gophers, in 1991. Gopher organizes Internet information resources into a standardized format that helps to simplify network navigation. Specifically, the user is presented with a menu or listing of information resources from which to choose. These items can be located on a local network or on a computer elsewhere on the Internet. Once an item is selected, the Gopher program on your personal computer “goes for it”, retrieving a file or establishing a connection with a remote computer. The same basic commands that you use on your local system will generally work for other Internet Gopher systems across the world, thus allowing you to surf cyberspace in a relatively easy manner.

To access the resources below, you will have to Gopher to the Internet address listed. Though the precise manner of doing this will vary across different computer systems and platforms, it will generally involve entering the Internet address listed.

Coombsquest: Located at Australian National University, this server has a social sciences data bank and links to a variety of resources worldwide. It also archives a large number of publications and research papers pertaining to Asian and Pacific studies. Gopher to:, port 70

Economic Democracy Information Network (EDIN): This site contains articles, research notes, course syllabi, and links to a variety of other sources with information of relevance to sociologists. Topics covered include: labor issues; race and racism; international economy; gender; and sexuality. Gopher to:, port 1250.

Florida State University Population Center: This resource provides working papers, abstracts, data, software, news items, related links and more in the area of demography. Once connected to FSU’s main gopher, “burrow” or follow menus to “Information Centers at FSU”. Gopher to: 70.

Global Democracy Network: Makes available information and research pertaining to human rights, development, indigenous peoples, etc. Gopher to: 70.

Latin American Network Information Center: Provides information on Latin America as well as information from Latin American scholars. Gopher to:

Progressive Sociologists Network (PSN): Contains archives of previous listserv discussions, working papers, syllabi, etc. Also links to the extensive Marx/Engels On-Line Library. Gopher to: gopher 70.

U.S. Bureau of the Census Gopher: Get documents, publications, press releases, and population data straight from the source. Gopher to:, port 70.

U.S. Department of Justice Gopher: Get documents, publications, press releases and crime statistics straight from the source. Gopher to:, port 70.


Newsgroups are electronic bulletin boards whereby people can electronically post questions, opinions, and even articles to the Internet at large. In a sense, newsgroups are similar to listservs in that people from all over the network can discuss issues of interest. However, newsgroups differ from listservs in that the former typically utilizes a computer program that is separate from most e-mail applications. There are literally thousands of newsgroups on the Internet worldwide. Some that may be of relevance to sociologists include:

  • alt.activism
  • alt.culture.theory
  • alt.feminism
  • alt.postmodern
  • alt.sci.sociology
  • sci.anthropology
  • sci.chaos
  • sci.psychology
  • soc.culture.scientists
  • soc.gender.issues
  • talk.politics.theory

World Wide Web

On the electronic networking frontier, the World Wide Web (WWW) integrates Internet computers into a seamless web by using hypertext and other hypermedia (e.g. graphics, sound and video). WWW supersedes most other Internet applications, allowing access to information via Gopher, newsgroups, e-mail, FTP, and telnet, as well as to resources unique to the WWW. Access requires a WWW browser program, such as Netscape or Mosaic.

(18)To access WWW sites, you need to have the Internet address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that tells you where the resource is located. In most cases, your WWW browser will have a command that states open location or something similar. It is here that the URL will be needed. Some useful WWW starting points for sociologists include:

Coombsweb-ANU Social Sciences Server: Like the Coombsquest Gopher (see above), this resource from the Australian National University provides a social sciences research data bank and links to a variety of resources worldwide. It also archives a large number of publications and research papers pertaining to Asian and Pacific studies. The URL is:

CTheory: Sponsored by the Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory, this electronic journal publishes a wide array of articles pertaining to postmodernism, feminism, theory and culture. The URL is:

Electronic Journal of Sociology: The EJS is a refereed electronic journal that publishes articles, working papers, and research notes on sociological issues pertaining to networked communications as well as to topics of general disciplinary interest. The URL is:

European Sociological Association: The home page for the ESA provides newsletters and conference information, as well as papers and information pertaining to selected research groups. The URL is:

Institute of Social Science: From the University of Tokyo, this resource provides information on conferences and seminars relating to the study of Japan, as well as access to the on-line newsletter, Social Science Japan. The URL is:

Research Engines for the Social Sciences: A broad index with links to a variety of social science resources and data archives. A good starting point for those who want to see what is out in cyberspace with regard to the social sciences. The URL is: http://www/

Social Science Information Gateway: This resource from the United Kingdom provides a broad spectrum of information relating to the social sciences, such as information pertaining to research funding, jobs, and a variety of links to other WWW resources across Europe and worldwide. The URL is:

Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction: At this site you can obtain organizational and membership information about the SSSI, as well as course syllabi, debates and commentary, SI-related papers, and more. The URL is:

Sociology Page (at Yahoo): This resource has links to sociology Gophers, research tools, etc. There are also connections to sociology departments, providing information on graduate programs, faculty and course offerings. The URL is:

WWW Virtual Library Sociology Index: This is another broad index with links to sociology departments, data archives, electronic journals and much, much more. The URL is:

WSN: The World-Systems Electronic Conferencing Network: The WSN page provides archives for the world systems listserv, access to the electronic Journal of World Systems Research, and much more. The URL is:

Yahoo: Currently one of the best WWW starting points available, for sociologists and non-practitioners alike. It presently indexes nearly 50,000 Internet sites. It is arranged by topic and updated daily. The URL is:

Copyright 1995 Electronic Journal of Sociology