Comparative sociology

Comparative sociology studies different social processes and phenomena across types of societies and states to gain understanding of social change and social order in different countries. In Canada, some universities offer courses in comparative sociology or classical social theory with a focus on cultural differences and the theories of Max Weber and Emilie Durkheim.

University Courses

Thompsons Rivers University features a course in classical social theory that allows students to explore works by Max Weber, Emilie Durkheim, Karl Marx, and other theorists. Students learn about classical theories and their limitations, the development of modern society, and the development of capitalism. Students enrolled in the Sociology Program choose from a wide selection of courses such as gender relations, sociology of the environment, collective behavior, and race and ethnicity. The McMaster University also features a course in classical social theory with a focus on early theories on race and gender and the works of Weber, Durkheim, and Marx. Students enrolled in the Sociology Program also explore topics such as ethnic relations, popular culture and inequality, and transitions and dynamics of families and intimate relationships. Other universities that offer courses in classical social theory include the University of Victoria, Athabasca University, and University of Calgary.

Topics in Comparative Sociology

The main themes and focus areas that comparative sociology explores include comparative urbanization, comparative demography, political regimes, and international migrations. Other topics include religiosity and secularization, social values, and welfare regimes. Comparative sociologists also study patterns of family living, social transformations and social change, and the persistence of traditional values vs. cultural change and modernization. The main focus is on social capital, inequality, poverty, and social policy, and class mobility and social stratification.

Research Areas

Comparative sociologists in Canada explore topics in different research areas, including social movements, social theory, inequality and social policy, and comparative historical sociology. Other focus areas include organizations and institutions, economic sociology, and political sociology. Comparative historical sociologists are mainly interested in the transforming relationships between ideology, political processes, and social mobilization, and they study social change, inequality, politics, and class. Comparative sociologists also study the differences in working class power across countries, organizational transformation, intra-class conflict, and the history and development of workplace democracy. Sociologists in Canadian universities study and theorize on themes and notions of ideology and class identity. Publications in academic journals focus on topics such as class identity and class formation, special interest and class, and strengthening social movements.


The average salary of sociologists in Canada stands at about $86,400 a year and ranges from about $26,580 to $96,000. The pay also varies by province and is around $86,650 in Ontario and around $87,440 in Alberta. Professionals holding a PhD are well-paid. The average salary of Professors of Sociology at the University of Toronto, for example, stands at about $156,280 a year, ranging from $114,000 to $229,000. Comparative sociologists work across different settings such as private and state professional schools, universities and colleges, research and development, and local governments. They also work for technical consulting, scientific, and management services. Graduates holding a sociology degree work as social workers, social researchers, secondary school teachers, and policy officers. They also work as international development workers, higher education lecturers, and community development workers.

Social Policy

Canada’s social policy covers a range of programs in the field of housing, education, healthcare, and unemployment.


Housing policies in Canada aim to ensure that all people have access to homes of a decent standard. Affordable housing programs are run across Canada, including the Rental Assistance Program in British Columbia, Rental Conversion Program in New Brunswick, and Home Renovation Program in Prince Edward Island. Financial assistance is available for accessibility modifications and essential home repairs and to individuals and families at risk of homelessness. Housing programs provide financing to persons with disabilities, seniors, landlords, homeowners, and vulnerable persons.


Ministries and departments of education in Canada’s provinces and territories are tasked with the assessment and delivery of postsecondary, vocational, technical, and secondary and elementary school level education. The federal government provides financing for the education of prisoners in correctional institutions, personnel in the coast guard and armed forces, and indigenous communities on reserves. Financial support is also available for instruction in Canada’s two official languages and for postsecondary education.


The territorial and provincial governments are mainly responsible for the delivery of healthcare services. They raise revenue through payroll levies, sales taxes, and corporate and personal taxes. Universal coverage is offered under territorial and provincial insurance plans, including diagnostic services and visits to hospitals and primary care physicians. Mental care and home care are not covered. Supplemental coverage is offered to people on social assistance, children, and seniors to pay for costs such as ambulance services, prescription drugs, dental care, and vision care.

Federal funding is available to provide healthcare services to some categories of refugee claimants, inmates in federal correctional institutions, eligible veterans, personnel of the Canadian Forces, Inuit, and First Nations communities on reserves. The federal government also offers financing for disease prevention and monitoring and health research.

Welfare Programs

Income assistance is offered in the form of family supplements and benefits, for example, the Child Disability Benefit, Canada Child Tax Benefit, and Guaranteed Income Supplement. Income assistance is available to veterans, seniors, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, and families and children. The Canada Child Tax Benefit is offered to eligible families in the form of a tax-free monthly payment. Eligibility and the amount offered are based on factors such as adjusted family net income, ages of children, and number of children. A handy benefits calculator is also available to assess eligibility based on marital status, residency, whether custody of the child is shared, whether the child is dependent, etc. Other benefits and programs are available to all Canadians, including the Working Income Tax Benefit, Wage Earner Protection Program, and Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits.

The requirements to apply for social assistance vary by province and territory. I general, applicants are asked to present documents such as a landing document or birth certificate and their total income amount, including sponsorship payments, spousal or child support agreements, employment insurance, pay stubs, etc. Applicants are also asked to provide information about their assets, including bonds, guaranteed income certificates, life insurance policies, and cash. They are asked about their living expenses as well, including mortgage payments, heating and utility bills, board and lodging, and rent. Finally, applicants provide information about childcare expenses such as extended day program fees and licensed and unlicensed child care.

Regional Aid

Financial assistance for regional development is offered by different agencies, including Western Economic Diversification Canada, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency: , and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for example, collaborates with local governments and other key players to create opportunities for growth.