Daniel Buffington

Dr. Daniel Buffington / Bear Hall 123 / 910.962.3434 / buffingtond@uncw.edu

On Becoming a Sociologist

I like to imagine that I was always going to become a sociologist. But that wasn’t the case. As an undergraduate, I double majored in Anthropology (Archaeology) and Art History with an emphasis on pre-Columbian Mesoamerican societies. While I generally enjoyed both majors and learned a lot, neither fully satisfied my curiosity to understand what was going on in the contemporary world around me. Despite these creeping doubts I felt I was too far along in my degree to change.

It was at this point that a very important event occurred: in order to complete my Anthropology requirements I had to take a course in Physical Anthropology. The professor, who had just finished a stint working for the Human Genome Project, spent half of the semester outlining how human beings differ physically and genetically, all the while point out that this variation did not match up with the racial categories we use in everyday life. For me this was an absolute revelation of the “earth is not flat” variety. I began to question all sorts of things I had previously taken for granted. If physical or genetic differences could not account for variation in the outcomes of racial groups (in sports, schools, jobs, etc), what did? It was from this event that I gained my keen interest in racial and ethnic group relations.

Despite helping to cultivate this interest, it was also clear to me that Anthropology could not address these issues. Anthropology, especially Archaeology, is primarily the study of the past and of someone else’s society. By happenstance my roommate at the time had a keen interest in sociology and loaned several books which persuaded me that sociology was unique among the social sciences in making contemporary social life and one’s own society the center of inquiry. Indeed, no other discipline has made racial inequality such a central concern or been able to demonstrate empirically the way that social forces shape the outcomes of racial groups.

Thus, like many of my colleagues it was what C. Wright Mills called the “promise” of sociology – the ability to link things happening in my everyday life to the larger events of history and society – that convinced me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Sociology at the University of Georgia.

Specialty Areas

Courses Taught

Racial & Ethnic Relations

Introduction to Sociology

Migration and National Identity

Sociology of Culture


Racial and Ethnic Group Relations (Undergraduate and Graduate)
Media and Communication Sociology of Sport
Sport and Leisure Modern Social Problems

Course Syllabi

SOC 105: Introduction to Sociology (Fall13)

SOC 200:Sociology of Sport (Spring 10)

SOC 215:Modern Social Problems (Spring 13)

SOC 306:Sociology of Culture (Spring 11)

SOC 325:Racial and Ethnic Group Relations (FALL 12)

SOC 490:Senior Seminar

SOC 525:Racial and Ethnic Group Relations (Fall 11)

Current Research Projects

Sport, Global Migration, and National Identity

Impact of Mass Media on Racial and Ethnic Characterizations and Stereotypes

Professional Associations

Southern Sociological Society

American Sociological Association

North American Society for the Sociology of Sport



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