This book connects theorists and their work to larger themes and ideas. All too often, in the opinion of the authors, theory texts focus too much on individual theorists and insufficiently on the relationship between their theories, and how these have contributed, in turn, to the evolution of ideas concerning social life. Treatment of individual theories and theorists is balanced with the development of key themes; ideas about social life (introduced in Chapter 1) which then reappear in the discussion of individual theorists and their work.
A key organizing principle of this text is to trace major schools of thought over the past 150 years as they appear and reappear in different chapters. Section 1 introductions help remind students of the "big picture" within which any given theory or theorist is only one part. A consistent organization and presentation within chapters helps provide students with a context for learning and a means of much more easily comparing and contrasting theorists and their ideas.
Important, new voices in a text for social theory: In Chapter 2, Harriet Martineau is introduced as one of sociology's founders. From then on, the views of women theorists and others are represented in far more than token fashion. Examples include W.E.B. DuBois, Marianne Weber, Charlotte Gilman, Rosa Luxemburg, Joseph Schumpeter, V. I. Lenin, Niklas Luhmann, Theda Skocpol, Erik Wright, Elman Service, Arlie Hochschild, Dorothy Smith, Patricia Hill Collins, and Immanual Wallerstein. · A timeline showing when social theorists lived and wrote and connecting their biographies to important social events over 300 years is at the back of the text.
"The organization of every chapter along similar lines provides a consistency in presentation that encourages comparisons among the theorists…[The authors] do a very good job presenting overlooked theorists and making their relevance to social theorizing /doing sociology clear."
--Joan Alway, formerly University of Miami
"The strengths of this text are the breadth of theories covered, the integration of gender-related topics--family, work, religion; the use of substantial quotes from primary texts; the consistent inclusion of methodological issues; …and the goals of the project to provide an expansive and readable theory text. I have no doubt that it will find a solid position in the field of popular theory texts for undergraduate course use."
--Kathleen Slobin, North Dakota State University