Forensic Sociology: What is it?

As the discipline of sociology escapes from academia each day, to morph into other social applications, for example, ‘clinical’ and ‘applied’ and ‘medical’ sociology, a new kid has appeared on the block: Forensic Sociology.

Wikipedia will give you some insights, or just google it for many other sources. 

Forensic sociology is great for sociologists who have taught criminology before (like me), and social deviance (me again). Mostly with PhDs, these folks can act as ‘experts’ in criminal court proceedings, working alongside the police, Crown Attorneys, and prison officials. Their investigations center around constructing social-psychological profiles of perpetrators of crime, including their family backgrounds and personal history, as well as the local context in which the crime takes place. The forensic sociologist’s role may be to interview people in the neighbourhood, the criminal’s network of contacts and associates, and to present resulting evidence of actual or implied circumstances that pertains to the event and scene. Library searches may also be necessary, as well as access to police files and court documents. Forensic sociologists, like other public investigators, are usually bonded or governed by an ethics code stipulating disclosure rights, privacy, confidentiality, and so forth.

Forensic sociologists, at the time of this writing, do not have a professional governing association in Canada apart from membership in academic bodies generally. There is no “Forensic Sociology Association” that assists in training or conduct control. Controls are usually applied through private insurance and/or through contract hiring agencies.

I believe this ‘new’ professional area will grow quickly in Canada, as legal systems latch on to the benefits of hiring forensic sociologists. Most make a very good living from this practice area.