Sociology Ethics*

Sharon Stoerger MLS, MBA


Cases and Studies ~~ Sociological Associations: Codes and Best Practices

Additional Resources

Cases and Studies

Allen and Unwin - Sociology Extra

This site is divided into two modules with 6 different cases in each module that cover issues such as gender & violence, globalization and race. Dr. Peter Kelly with the Behavioral Studies Program at the University of Queensland developed the cases that are posted at this site.

Chowan Links to Ethics and Community Resource Sites

Faculty at Chowan College in Murfreesboro, North Carolina voted to establish the Chowan Center for Ethics in 1997. The Center's principle objective is "to heighten ethical awareness and 'moral imagination'" by encouraging discussion about today's ethical issues. Numerous resources can be found in sections like the Ethics and Community Resource Sites.

Wayne Petherick, an adjunct teaching fellow in criminology at the University of Queensland, has developed this case study on cyber-stalking. His research interests involve criminal profiling, and Petherick has examined that technique to see how it affects the new crime of cyber-stalking.

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

This is one of the many case studies presented at the site. Most of the cases found at this site have an engineering focus, but there are a few that could be of interest to those in social science areas as well.

Ethical Dilemma, Right vs. Right
The Institute for Global Ethics, an organization whose mission is to promote ethical behavior in individual institutions and nations through research, public discourse and practical action, has developed this page of ethical dilemmas. A variety of topic areas are covered including children & family and police & corrections. The narrative of each case is presented along with an analysis and resolution.

Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI): Genome Research

ELSI is associated with the Human Genome Project so the issues presented at this site have a bioethics slant to them. The societal impact of some events affecting biotechnology, though, may be of interest in those involved in sociological research.

Ethics Decisions Exercise
Thirteen different scenarios are provided that may involve possibly questionable ethical situations. A set of four instructions are outlined and are to be applied to each of the thirteen cases presented at this site.

Ethics Updates

Greene's Resignation Sparks Ethical Debate

The highly respected Chicago Tribune columnist, Bob Greene, resigned during the weekend of September 15, 2002 over an incident that happened several years ago with a female, high school student. Greene's resignation and the investigation of the allegations by the Tribune have sparked lots of dialogue over the ethics surrounding this situation.

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics was founded in 1986 and has grown into one of the most active university applied ethics centers in the country. It is based at Santa Clara University, and was initially funded by an endowment by Linda and A. C. "Mike" Markkula Jr. Articles, cases, briefings and dialogue in all areas of applied ethics can be found at this online center.

NOTE: Even though the Markkula Center and Ethics Updates ( are not sociology specific, they are often cited on pages dealing with sociology ethics.

The Milgram Obedience to Authority Experiments

The Milgram experiments are considered to be psychological experiments, but the results are telling from a sociological perspective as well.

Background: Stanley Milgram conducted his "Obedience to Authority" experiments from 1961-1962 at Yale University. The experiments tested whether or not subjects would do what they were told even when they considered those actions to be morally wrong.


National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science
The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University of Buffalo is not an ethics case site like Ethics Online ( or the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (, but it does discuss dilemmas faced in various subject areas.

SHiPS Ethics & the Environment

The motto of the SHiPS Teachers' Network is to help "teachers share experiences and resources for integrating history, philosophy and sociology of science in the science classroom". Ethics & the Environment is just one of the sections covered by SHiPS.

Social Ethics

Social Ethics is a class taught by Jim Mazoué at the University of New Orleans. The second half of this course description page lists numerous links to news articles on ethical concerns that affect society such as gender issues, the death penalty and abortion.

A Sociological Tour through Cyberspace

Michael C. Kearl, Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Trinity University (San Antonio, TX) created this site that covers some issues surrounding sociology today.

Sociology Cases Database Project

This project is designed to provide access to college-level cases for teachers to use in their sociology courses. It is currently in its initial stages so they are still gathering cases and ideas for cases. At the moment, it appears that just one case has been posted at the site.

Links to other sites on cases are also available at, but some of the sites charge for the cases. One example is the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (GUISD) at An abstract is provided for each case posted at GUISD so it may be a place to gather ideas for discussion if you don't want to purchase a case study.

SOSIG Education and Teaching of Sociology
SOSIG, part of the UK Resource Discovery Network, is a good place to explore issues of importance to those in the field of sociology. Articles, reports, educational materials, and other resources are available. Descriptive abstracts are provided for each link posted at the site.

Jessica Champlin, a sociology graduate, began compiling the list of materials found at SocioRealm when she was conducting research for her undergraduate studies at Queen's University. SocioRealm does not solely deal with sociology ethics, but it does include a few resources that address ethical topics affecting the field of sociology. This site has been available online since July 1996.

The purpose of SocioSite is to provide a "comprehensive listing of all sociology resources on the Internet" that are important to sociologists, social scientists and others. SocioSite is a project based at the University of Amsterdam and is a member of the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publications (ICAAP). The site is currently available only in English, but a Dutch version is in the works.

The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment is very much like the Milgram Obedience to Authority experiment in that it was designed to be a psychology experiment. As was true with the Milgram experiments, though, the Stanford Prison Experiment is an interesting commentary on power and our society.

Background: Philip Zimbardo began his prison experiment during the summer of 1971 at Stanford University. The study was designed to answer the following questions.

  1. What happens when you put good people in an evil place?
  2. Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph?

Teaching Ethics for Research, Scholarship & Practice
This site is a database of instructional materials gathered by the University of Minnesota. It's designed to "increase awareness of ethical issues throughout the University community". The case study section at links to cases covering a wide range of topics. Each case lists the title, author, and discipline.

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Sociological Associations: Codes and Best Practices

American Association of Public Opinion Research: Ethics and Standards

American Sociological Association (ASA)

British Sociological Association: Ethical Practice

European Sociological Association: Statutes

International Sociological Association

The Midwest Sociological Society

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Additional ethics resources can be found at the following sites.

Anthropology Ethics

Art Ethics

Bioethics. See also the Biotechnology Web Page (UIUC)

Business Ethics

Ethics Case Studies

History Ethics



Research Ethics

Social Science Ethics: A Bibliography

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*This site is an adaptation of Web pages I created for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Created by Sharon Stoerger MLS, MBA
©September 30, 2002

Updated November 16, 2003