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Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots

Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots
The Basics

Fifth Edition

December 2017 | 440 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The authors are proud sponsors of the 2020 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Now with SAGE Publishing, Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics, is a brief survey of sociology's major theorists and theoretical approaches, from the Classical founders to the present. With updated scholarship in the new Fifth Edition, authors George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky connect many theorists and schools of thought together under broad headings that offer students a synthesized view of sociological theory. This text is perfect for those who want an accessible overview of the entire tradition of sociological thinking, with an emphasis on the contemporary relevance of theory.

About the Authors
Chapter 1: Introduction to Sociological Theory
Creating Sociological Theory

Defining Sociological Theory

Creating Sociological Theory: A More Realistic View

Overview of the Book

Chapter 2: Classical Theories I
Emile Durkheim: From Mechanical to Organic Solidarity

Karl Marx: From Capitalism to Communism

Max Weber: The Rationalization of Society

Chapter 3: Classical Theories II
Georg Simmel: The Growing Tragedy of Culture

Thorstein Veblen: Increasing Control of Business over Industry

George Herbert Mead: Social Behaviorism

Significant Symbols and Languages

W.E.B. Du Bois: Race and Racism in Modern Society

Chapter 4: Contemporary Grand Theories I
Structural Functionalism

Conflict Theory

General Systems Theory

Chapter 5: Contemporary Grand Theories II
Neo-Marxian Theory

The Civilizing Process

The Colonization of the Lifeworld

The Juggernaut of Modernity

Chapter 6: Contemporary Theories of Everyday Life
Symbolic Interactionism


Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

Exchange Theory

Rational Choice Theory

Chapter 7: Contemporary Integrative Theories
A More Integrated Exchange Theory

Structuration Theory

Culture and Agency

Habitus and Field

Chapter 8: Contemporary Feminist Theories by Patricia Madoo Lengermann and Gillian Niebrugge
The Basic Theoretical Questions

The Classical Roots

Contemporary Feminist Theories

Toward a Feminist Sociological Theory

Chapter 9: Theories of Race and Colonialism
Fanon and the Colonial Subject

Postcolonial Theory

Critical Theories of Race and Racism

A Systematic Theory of Race

Southern Theory and Indigenous Resurgence

Chapter 10: Postmodern Grand Theories
The Transition from Industrial to Postindustrial Society

Increasing Governmentality (and Other Grand Theories)

Postmodernity as Modernity's Coming of Age

The Rise of Consumer Society, Loss of Symbolic Exchange, and Increase in Simulations

The Consumer Society and the New Means of Consumption

Queer Theory: Sex and Sexuality

Chapter 11: Globalization Theory
Major Contemporary Theorists on Globalization

Cultural Theory

Economic Theory

Political Theory

Source Acknowledgments


Instructor Site

  •   Microsoft® Word test bank, is available containing multiple choice, true/false, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Lecture notes summarize key concepts on a chapter-by-chapter basis to help you with preparation for lectures and class discussions

I like that it is brief, covers the essentials for a one-semester overview of Sociological Theory clearly in a way that lets me draw in primary readings too.

Dr David John Ayers
Sociology, Grove City College
January 9, 2022

I use this text for teaching Social Theory. It is an excellent book for undergraduate level. It explains the theories and concepts is a clear manner

Augusto DeVenanzi
Sociology/Anthropology Dept, Purdue Univ – Fort Wayne
November 30, 2020
Key features


  • A new chapter on Theories of Race and Colonialism addresses a subject of longstanding interest and importance.
  • Arlie Hochschild’s theory of emotion management has been added to the chapter on Contemporary Theories of Everyday Life.
  • Chapter 11 on Globalization Theory includes discussion of the significance of Brexit, the 2017 American election, and other recent events for globalization theory.
  • New “Key Concept” boxes discuss romanticism, commercialization of feeling, colonialism, and color-blind-racism.
  • Frantz Fanon and Kimberlé Crenshaw are the subjects of new Biographical Vignettes.
  • Co-author George Ritzer is a distinguished theorist in his own right and an accomplished scholar of sociological theory, known for his clear, authoritative writing on this subject.
  • The chronological organization allows for easy use of supplementary readers to enhance classroom discussion or to broaden students' understanding of theories and concepts.
  • The chapter on Contemporary Feminist Theories has been revised on foundation originally contributed by two feminist scholars, Patricia Lengermann and Gillian Niebrugge.
  • “Key Concept” boxes summarize over 30 ideas that are widely used and debated in the field, from “Social Facts” to “Civil Society.”
  • “Contemporary Application” boxes examine the relevance of many classical theories to social life in today’s global society.
  • Short biographies of key theorists help readers to see their ideas in the context of personal and historical circumstances.

For instructors

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