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Essentials of Sociology

Essentials of Sociology

Fourth Edition
Available with:

December 2019 | 576 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The author is a proud sponsor 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. Join the conversation with one of sociology’s best-known thinkers.

In the fully updated Fourth Edition of Essentials to Sociology, bestselling author George Ritzer shows students the relevance of sociology to their lives. Adapted from Ritzer’s Introduction to Sociology, this text provides students with a rock-solid foundation in a shorter and more streamlined format. Students will learn about traditional sociological concepts and theories, as well as some of the most compelling contemporary social phenomena: globalization, consumer culture, the Internet, and the “McDonaldization” of society. Packed with current examples and the latest research of how “public” sociologists are engaging with the critical issues of today, this new edition encourages students to apply a sociological perspective to their worldview—empowering them to participate in a global conversation about current social problems.

This title is accompanied by a complete teaching and learning package. Contact your Sage representative to request a demo.
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Letter from the Author
About the Author
CHAPTER 1: An Introduction to Sociology in the Global Age
A Sociology of Revolutions and Counterrevolutions

The Changing Nature of the Social World—and Sociology

Central Concerns for a Twenty-First-Century Sociology

Sociology: Continuity and Change

The Social Construction of Reality

Sociology’s Purpose: Science or Social Reform?

Sociology, the Other Social Sciences, and Common Sense


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 2: Thinking About and Researching the Social World
Do Sociological Theory and Research Help Us Understand Today’s Overheated Politics?

Theorizing the Social World

Contemporary Sociological Theory

Researching the Social World

Issues in Social Research


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 3: Culture
A Reflection of U.S. Culture

A Definition of Culture

The Basic Elements of Culture

Cultural Differences

Global Culture


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 4: Socialization and Interaction
Socialization and Variance

The Individual and the Self

The Individual as Performer



Micro-Level Social Structures


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 5: Organizations, Societies, and Global Relationships
Questioning Governmental Authority


Contemporary Organizational Realities


Global Relationships


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 6: Deviance and Crime
Norms, Labels, and Judgment


Theories of Deviance


Globalization and Crime


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 7: Social Stratification in the United States and Globally
Student “Haves” and “Have-Nots” in Higher Education

Dimensions of Social Stratification

Economic Inequality

Social Mobility

Theories of Social Stratification

Consumption and Social Stratification

Global Stratification

Other Global Inequalities

Changing Positions in Global Stratification

Theories of Global Stratification


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 8: Race and Ethnicity
Minorities Acquire Political Power

The Concepts of Race and Ethnicity

Majority–Minority Relations


Race and Ethnicity in a Global Context


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 9: Gender and Sexuality
Challenging Gender Stereotypes

Gender and Sex

The Sociology of Sexuality

Sexuality, Gender, and Globalization

Global Flows Related to Gender


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 10: Families
Fictional Families Get Real

Family, Marriage, and Intimate Relationships

Broad Changes in Marriage and the Family

Theorizing the Family

Problems in the Family

Global Families


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 11: Education and Religion
Science versus Religion in the Public Schools


Inequality in Education

Globalization and Education


Types of Religious Institutions

Religion and Globalization


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 12: Politics and the Economy
The Interrelationship of Government and the Economy

Politics: Democracy or Dictatorship

Who Rules the United States?

Global Politics

The U.S. Economy: From Industrial to Postindustrial

Work, Consumption, and Leisure

Globalization and the Economy


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 13: The Body, Medicine, Health, and Health Care
The Opioid Crisis

The Sociology of Health

The Body

The Sociology of Medicine

Globalization and Health


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 14: Population, Urbanization, and the Environment
Too Few, Too Old



Cities and Globalization

The Environment


Key Terms

Review Questions

CHAPTER 15: Social Change, Social Movements, and Collective Action
Workers’ Rights, Consumer Activism, and Social Change

Social Movements

Emergence, Mobilization, and Impact of Social Movements

Collective Action

Social Change: Globalization, Consumption, and the Internet


Key Terms

Review Questions

References: Chapter-Opening Vignettes
References: Comprehensive List


Instructor Resource Site

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LMS cartridge (formerly known as SAGE Coursepacks) included with this title for use in Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace by Desire2Learn (D2L), and Moodle

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Student Study Site


The open-access Student Study Site makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime. It offers flashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts, as well as learning objectives that reinforce the most important material.

Excellent survey text covering the field of sociology.

Dr Bill Brocato
Social Sciences Dept, Univ Of Maryland Eastern Shore
December 14, 2020
Key features
  • The new edition is available as a digital option through SAGE Vantage, an intuitive digital platform that offers auto-graded assignments and interactive multimedia tools-including video-all designed to ignite student engagement and drive critical thinking. Learn more.

  • Updated examples in the text and "Digital Living" boxes keep pace with changes in digital technology and online practices, including genealogy websites, Uber, Bitcoin, Tinder, the #MeToo movement, digital privacy, WikiLeaks, and cyberbullying.
  • New topics in the “Trending” boxes demonstrate the diversity of sociology's practitioners, methods, and subject matter. Featured authors include:
    • Robert Wuthnow (The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America)
    • Adam Reich and Peter Bearman (Working for Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart)
    • Bruce Western (Homeward: Life in the Year after Prison)
    • Arlene Stein (Unbound: Transgender Men and Remaking of Identity)
    • Tressie McMillan Cottom (Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy)
    • Zevnep Tufekci (Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest)
    • Arlie Hochschild (Strangers in Their Own Land)
    • Lori Peek and Alice Fothergill (Children of Katrina)
    • Caitlyn Collins (Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving)
    • Jonathan Metzl (Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland)
  • New or updated subjects apply sociological thinking to the latest issues including:
    • the 2016 U.S. election
    • Brexit
    • the global growth of ISIS
    • climate change
    • further segmentation of wealthy Americans as the "super rich"
    • transgender people in the U.S. armed forces
    • charter schools
    • the legalization of marijuana
    • the Flint water crisis
    • fourth-wave feminism


  • The text focuses on several themes that help define social life today:
    • Globalization—the flow of people, goods, institutions, and ideas across national borders. 
    • Consumer Culture—the meaning attached to getting and using material goods. 
    • Digital Living—social life mediated by digital technologies. 

  • A conceptual foundation for understanding sociology is provided in the first chapter so students can build upon that foundation when they are introduced to different sociological theories.    

  • Strong coverage of sociological theory is presented in an enhanced three-category system that is similar to the approach of most introductory sociology texts, but richer—encompassing classical theories as well as the most important offshoots of those theories developed in recent years.  

  • Contemporary public sociologists, whose works and ideas have entered the national conversation, appear in "Trending" boxes to encourage students to join a public conversation by providing key insights about current sociological issues. 

  • Global maps illustrate the global “flows” of people, goods, and ideas in the contemporary world.
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