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Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory
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Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory
Visualizing Social Worlds

Third Edition


December 2012 | 488 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
In the Third Edition of Ken Allan's highly-praised Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory book, sociological theories and theorists are explored using a straightforward approach and conversational, jargon-free language.  Filled with examples drawn from everyday life, this edition highlights diversity in contemporary society, exploring theories of race, gender, and sexuality that address some of today's most important social concerns.  Through this textbook students will learn to think theoretically and apply theory to their own lives.

 
Part I: Introductions
 
Chapter 1: In the Beginning Was Modernity
Modern Society

 
Modern Knowledge

 
Theory: The Key to Modern Knowledge

 
The Classical Theorists

 
Complexities of Contemporary Theory

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 2: Defining Moments in Twentieth-Century Theory - Talcott Parsons and the Frankfurt School
Talcott Parsons: Defining Sociology

 
The Frankfurt School: The Problem With Sociology

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Part II: Individuals and Situations
 
Chapter 3: The Language of the Self - Herbert Blumer
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Emergent Meanings

 
Concepts and Theory: Self and Action

 
Concepts and Theory: Society and Sociology

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Symbolic Interactionism

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 4: Imaging the Self - Erving Goffman
The Big Picture: Self-Image

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Impression Management

 
Concepts and Theory: The Encounter

 
Concepts and Theory: Frames and Keys

 
Concepts and Theory: The Interaction Order

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Dramaturgy

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 5: Achieving Social Order - Harold Garfinkel
The Big Picture: Social Constructivism

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Achieving Social Order

 
Concepts and Theory: Reflexivity

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Ethnomethodology

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 6: Social Exchanges - George Homans, Peter Blau, and Randall Collins
The Big Picture: Agency

 
Elementary Forms of Social Behavior: George Homans

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Basic Principles of Behavioral Psychology

 
Summary

 
Social Exchanges and Power: Peter Blau

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Social Exchanges

 
Concepts and Theory: Creating Power and Social Structures

 
Summary

 
Ritualized Exchanges: Randall Collins

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Emotion - The Generalized

 
Concepts and Theory: Interaction Ritual Chains

 
Concepts and Theory: Ritualizing Stratification

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Exchange Theory

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Part III: Social Structures and Systems
The Big Picture: Levels of Analysis

 
 
Chapter 7: Structures of Racial and Gender Inequality - William Julius Wilson and Janet Saltzman Chafetz
The Big Picture: Structures

 
The Declining Significance of Race: William Julius Wilson

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: American Racial History

 
Concepts and Theory: Policy Implications

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: American Race Theory

 
The Structures of Gender Inequality: Janet Saltzman Chafetz

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Coercive Structures of Gender Inequality

 
Concepts and Theory: Micro-Level Coercive Structures

 
Concepts and Theory: Changing Gender Inequality

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Feminism

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 8: Structuring Class - Pierre Bourdieu
The Big Picture: Class

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Structuring Class

 
Concepts and Theory: Replicating Class

 
Concepts and Theory: Toward a New Sociology

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Cultural Embodiment

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 9: Structures of Power - Michel Foucault
The Big Picture: Power

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Dramaturgy

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 5: Achieving Social Order - Harold Garfinkel
The Big Picture: Social Constructivism

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Achieving Social Order

 
Concepts and Theory: Reflexivity

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Ethnomethodology

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 6: Social Exchanges - George Homans, Peter Blau, and Randall Collins
The Big Picture: Agency

 
Elementary Forms of Social Behavior: George Homans

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Basic Principles of Behavioral Psychology

 
Summary

 
Social Exchanges and Power: Peter Blau

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Social Exchanges

 
Concepts and Theory: Creating Power and Social Structures

 
Summary

 
Ritualized Exchanges: Randall Collins

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Emotion - The Generalized

 
Concepts and Theory: Interaction Ritual Chains

 
Concepts and Theory: Ritualizing Stratification

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Exchange Theory

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Part III: Social Structures and Systems
The Big Picture: Levels of Analysis

 
 
Chapter 7: Structures of Racial and Gender Inequality - William Julius Wilson and Janet Saltzman Chafetz
The Big Picture: Structures

 
The Declining Significance of Race: William Julius Wilson

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: American Racial History

 
Concepts and Theory: Policy Implications

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: American Race Theory

 
The Structures of Gender Inequality: Janet Saltzman Chafetz

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Coercive Structures of Gender Inequality

 
Concepts and Theory: Micro-Level Coercive Structures

 
Concepts and Theory: Changing Gender Inequality

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Feminism

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 8: Structuring Class - Pierre Bourdieu
The Big Picture: Class

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Structuring Class

 
Concepts and Theory: Replicating Class

 
Concepts and Theory: Toward a New Sociology

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Cultural Embodiment

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 9: Structures of Power - Michel Foucault
The Big Picture: Power

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Truth About Truth

 
Concepts and Theory: The Practices of Power

 
Concepts and Theory: Disciplining the Body

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Poststructuralism

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 10: World-Systems Theory - Immanuel Wallerstein
The Big Picture: Globalization

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Dialectics of Capitalism

 
Concepts and Theory: The End of the World as We Know It

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: World-Systems Theory

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 11: The Network Society - Manual Castells
The Big Picture: Network Society

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Information Technology

 
Concepts and Theory: Networks, Identities, and Democracy

 
The Network Society and the Crisis in Democracy

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Society Writ Large

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Part IV: Modernity - Possibilities and Problems
The Big Picture: Civil Society and Democracy

 
 
Chapter 12: Reason and Democracy - Jürgen Habermas
The Big Picture: Social Change

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Capitalism and Legitimation

 
Concepts and Theory: The Colonization of Democracy

 
Concepts and Theory: Hope for Democracy

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Critical Theory

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 13: Civil Society and Democracy - Jeffrey C. Alexander
The Big Picture: Solidarity

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The New Civil Sphere

 
Concepts and Theory: Civil Institutions

 
Concepts and Theory: Civil Society Outcomes

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: A Strong Program in Cultural Society

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 14: Runaway Modernity - Anthony Giddens
The Big Picture: Social Ontology

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Reality of Society

 
Making Society and Hiding It

 
Unconscious Motivation

 
Concepts and Theory: The Contours of Modernity

 
Concepts and Theory: The Experience of Modernity

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Part V: Contemporary Political Identities
The Big Picture: Politics of Identities

 
 
Chapter 15: Being Black in America - Patricia Hill Collins and Cornel West
The Big Picture: Epistemology

 
Black Feminism and Intersectionality - Patricia Hill Collins

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Standpoint of Black Women

 
Concepts and Theory: Intersectionality and Matrices of Domination

 
Summary

 
Commodification of Black Experience - Cornel West

 
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: Black Existence in America

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 16: Text, Power, and Women - Dorothy E. Smith
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: The Problem With Facts

 
Concepts and Theory: Lived Experience and Knowing

 
Summary

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 
 
Chapter 17: Exposing Sex - Judith Butler
Theorist's Digest

 
Concepts and Theory: What's the Matter With Bodies?

 
Concepts and Theory: Haunting, Subversion, and Queer Politics

 
Summary

 
Taking the Perspective: Poststructuralism and Queer Theory

 
Building Your Theory Toolbox

 

Chapter 15 (Postmodernism) deals with the importance of Judith Butler for gender studies (pp. 752-761). I will use this part in my gender and politics lecture.

Dr Irem OZGOREN KINLI
Political Science, Izmir Katip Celebi University
August 12, 2019

Max Weber (Chapter 4), Critical Theory (Chapter 10), Poststructuralism (Chapter 14)
Postmodernism (Chapter 15), The Global Society (Chapter 16) are important topics for my political sociology course. These chapters give detailed information about these topics.

Dr Irem OZGOREN KINLI
Political Science, Izmir Katip Celebi University
July 27, 2019

This textbook is the best and most presentation of contemporary theory that I have found. The author writes to students, bringing a wide variety of theoretical ideas into their everyday lives. I have students in graduate school who tell me they continue to refer to this textbook (which they used in their undergrad education).

Dr Linda Derksen
Sociology , Vancouver Island University
April 6, 2016

Overall excellent introductory text for undergraduate students.

Mr HASNAIN QAYYUM
NUC Combined Studies, Newham College of Further Education
February 18, 2015

excellent coverage of major contemporary theorists. good reference to key issues such as social structures, agency and globalization. I found building your theory toolbox and concepts and theory features very useful for reinforcing learning.

Dr Mansour Pourmehdi
Department of Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University
February 16, 2014

An excellent book which explores and develops contemporary ideas in sociology with nuance. Provides a solid underpinning for social science students for undergraduate and post-graduate levels

Mrs CAROLYNE JAMES
Applied Social Science (Carlisle), University of Cumbria
January 12, 2014

A great text to get students active in conversation!

Miss Engela Van der klashorst
biokinetics, sport and recreation, University of Pretoria
December 12, 2013

This is a useful text which succinctly reviews sociological theory to support students in thinking through issues such as social structures, class and power. I found the summary sections in each chapter particularly helpful.

Ms Angela Hilton
School of Education, Wolverhampton University
October 31, 2013

A vital resource in teaching undergraduate social theory. Makes a difficult task so much easier. Clear language and full of the relevant information to enhance understanding of difficult concepts.

Mr Michael Mahadeo
Dept of Sociology & Appl'd Soc Studies, Ulster University
June 27, 2013

To basic for this course. But can be used in the Bachelor courses concerning sociology and theories of culture and society

Mr Erik Sloth
Dept Language & Business Communication, Aarhus School of Business
June 21, 2013
Key features
NEW TO THIS EDITION
  • This edition is newly organized around the issues of modern knowledge, democracy, and the individual
  • New section and chapter introductions have been added that address some of the more important issues in contemporary theory, including, Self-Image, Social Constructivism, Agency, Levels of Analysis, Social Structures, Class, Power, Globalization, Network Society, Civil Society and Democracy, Social Change, Social Solidarity, Social Ontology, Politics of Identities, and Epistemology.
  • A new introductory chapter that historically situates sociology and theory, provides a succinct review of the classical theorists, and focuses on the idea of the modern individual, which is explicitly connected to the student.
  • A new chapter (13) focuses on the concept of Civil Society and Democracy and examines the work of Jeffrey C. Alexander
  • New coverage of contemporary theorists such as R.S. Perinbanayagam and Patricia Hill Collins has been added
  • A new conclusion, "Post-Thinking" has been added to the end of the book
  • The Building Your Theory Toolbox sections at the end of each chapter, which help students apply the theory to their own lives have been completely revised and updated

FEATURES & BENEFITS

  • 20 major contemporary theorists are covered in depth, including Erving Goffman, Peter Blau, Pierre Bourdieu, Jurgen Habermas, Anthony Giddens, Randall Collins, Patricia Hill Collins, Dorothy Smith, and Cornel West.
  • Essential Theorist features provide students with a set of conceptual tools that focus attention on the essential elements of the theory.
  • Taking the Perspective features present overviews of major theoretical perspectives in sociology, such as symbolic interaction, dramaturgy, exchange theory, ethnomethodology, critical theory, feminism, world systems theory, and structuration theory.
  • End of Chapter Summaries provide students with succinct yet thorough reviews of the theorist's argument.

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