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Illuminating Social Life

Illuminating Social Life
Classical and Contemporary Theory Revisited

Sixth Edition
Edited by:
  • Peter Kivisto - Augustana College, USA, Richard A. Swanson Professor of Social Thought, and Chair of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Welfare, Augustana College, USA

The only undergraduate text that demonstrates how social theories can shed new light on contemporary issues

November 2012 | 440 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The sixth edition of Peter Kivisto’s popular anthology, Illuminating Social Life, continues to demonstrate to students how social theories can help them make sense of the swirling events and perplexing phenomena that they encounter in their daily lives. A perfect complement for sociological theory courses, this updated edition includes 13 original essays by leading scholars in the field that help students better understand and appreciate the relevance of social theory. Once again, Peter Kivisto's collection illuminates the connection between sociological theory and the realities that students are faced with every day —from the Internet, alcohol use, and body building to shopping malls, the working world, and fast-food restaurants.

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award

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Peter Kivisto
Stephen Adair
Celebratory Capitalism and the Commodification of Information
George Ritzer
The Weberian Theory of Rationalization and the McDonaldization of Contemporary Society
Anne M. Hornsby
Surfing the Net for Community: A Durkheimian Analysis of Electronic Gatherings
William J. Staudenmeier, Jr.
Alcohol-Related Windows on Simmel’s Social World
Peter Kivisto
Scott Appelrouth
Cultural Sociology and the Meaning of Music
Christopher Prendergast
Why Do African Americans Pay More for New Cars? A Structural Explanation
Steven P. Dandaneau
Critical Theory, Legitimation Crisis, and the Deindustrialization of Flint, Michigan
Douglas Hartmann and Joyce M. Bell
Race-Based Critical Theory and the “Happy Talk” of Diversity in America
Judith Lorber and Patricia Yancey Martin
The Socially Constructed Body: Insights From Feminist Theory
David Schweingruber and Nancy Berns
Organizing Door-to-Door Sales: A Symbolic Interactionist Analysis
Peter Kivisto and Dan Pittman
Goffman’s Dramaturgical Sociology: Personal Sales and Service in a Commodified World
Kevin Fox Gotham
Contrasts of Carnival: Mardi Gras Between the Modern and the Postmodern
Anne F. Eisenberg
Negotiating the Social Landscape to Create Social Change
William H. Swatos, Jr.
Globalization Theory and Religious Fundamentalism

Very good book, but more suitable as complementary reading than as textbook. It's good to get inspired by sociology in social life and therefore very helpful, but not as a textbook. Ordered for our library.

Professor Dieter Kulke
Fakultät Angewandte Sozialwissenschaften, Fachhochschule Würzburg-Schweinfurt
February 21, 2014

Decided to use the previous edition based on pertinent readings...

Dr Timothy Levonyan Radloff
Sociology Anthropology Dept, East Stroudsburg University
January 15, 2014

I thought the revisiting of theory and links to fresh case studies was very good. I have used chapters 3 and 5 in teaching undergrad students and MA's My sole criticism would be that most of the case studies are from the USA, so it takes a further leap of interpretation to re-localise the concepts. If examples were more international the book would be more 'essential' here in Ireland.

Dr Tony Langlois
Dept of Media & Communication Studies, Univ of Limerick, Mary Immaculate Coll
November 28, 2013

Although not directly relevant to the programme I deliver (leadership of integrated services), the importance this collection places on using theory to understand the world we live in means that it's a useful anthology in supporting any student in the field of social sciences. It is clearly laid out and the editorial introductions to each section support the reader to make connections to classical and current sociological theory. I would recommend it as background reading for those wishing to grasp a range of theoretical approaches to underpin their knowledge.

Ms Angela Hilton
School of Education, Wolverhampton University
March 25, 2013
Key features
  • A new chapter from a Marxist perspective, written by Stephen Adair, has been included in the classical theory section titled "Celebratory Capitalism and the Commodification of Information"
  • An original chapter by Scott Appelrouth, "Cultural Sociology and the Meaning of Music," reflects the growing theoretical interest in cultural sociology
  • Kevin Fox Gotham's chapter on Mardi Gras in New Orleans has been substantially revised, which includes a new section on the post-Katrina era


  • Essays written by current theorists illustrate the connection between research, theory, and contemporary issues, making the content more accessible and relevant for students
  • A substantial introduction by the editor links the applied essays to an insightful overview of the classical and contemporary social theories used in the book
  • Discussion questions at the end of each essay help students focus on the key ideas presented in the chapter

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

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This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.