When you have an article with references, you can see if a particular reference is available by looking the journal's name up at the link below. Then you can use the volume and date information to navigate to the article. If we don't have access to that journal, we usually can get it from another library.
Use these databases to find scholarly/peer reviewed/academic (secondary) articles about your topics.
Many scholars want their research to have an impact on society. Because subscription journals are only available to those with a certain amount of privilege, many scholars are posting their work online. Sometimes a publisher won't allow the final article to be posted (because they'll lose money) so a manuscript version may be what you find. They are often identical to or very close to the final published version, but if you're relying on a source, it's a good idea to get your hands on the version of record - the final published version.
Some sociologists are posting papers and datasets at a site where they are available to all. It's so new, it's not very full yet, but in time it should be a valuable site for people whether or not they have access to expensive journals.
Gustavus is doing its part to make research freely available. If you have a paper you're proud of, consider submitting it to Gustie Scholar.