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Sociological Theory

Sociological Theory

Tenth Edition
Additional resources:

February 2017 | 832 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Now with SAGE Publishing, and co-authored by one of the foremost authorities on sociological theory, the Tenth Edition of Sociological Theory by George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky gives readers a comprehensive overview of the major theorists and schools of sociological thought, from sociology's origins through the early 21st century. Key theories are integrated with biographical sketches of theorists, and are placed in their historical and intellectual context. This text helps students better understand the original works of classical and contemporary theorists, and enables them to compare and contrast the latest substantive concepts.


Biographical and Autobiographical Sketches
PART I Classical Sociological Theory
CHAPTER 1 A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Early Years
Social Forces in the Development of Sociological Theory  
Intellectual Forces and the Rise of Sociological Theory  
The Development of French Sociology  
The Development of German Sociology  
The Origins of British Sociology  
The Key Figure in Early Italian Sociology  
Turn-of-the-Century Developments in European Marxism  
CHAPTER 2 Karl Marx
The Dialectic  
Dialectical Method  
Human Potential  
The Structures of Capitalist Society  
Materialist Conception of History  
Cultural Aspects of Capitalist Society  
Marx’s Economics: A Case Study  
Contemporary Applications  
CHAPTER 3 Emile Durkheim
Social Facts  
The Division of Labor in Society  
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life  
Moral Education and Social Reform  
Contemporary Applications  
CHAPTER 4 Max Weber
Substantive Sociology  
Contemporary Applications  
CHAPTER 5 Georg Simmel
Primary Concerns  
Individual Consciousness and Individuality  
Social Interaction (“Association”)  
Social Structures and Worlds  
Objective Culture  
Secrecy: A Case Study in Simmel’s Sociology  
Contemporary Applications  
PART II Modern Sociological Theory: The Major Schools
CHAPTER 6 A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Later Years
Early American Sociological Theory  
Sociological Theory to Midcentury  
Sociological Theory from Midcentury  
Late-Twentieth-Century Developments in Sociological Theory  
Theories of Modernity and Postmodernity  
Social Theory in the Twenty-First Century  
CHAPTER 7 Structural Functionalism, Systems Theory, and Conflict Theory
Structural Functionalism  
Systems Theory  
Conflict Theory  
CHAPTER 8 Varieties of Neo-Marxian Theory
Economic Determinism  
Hegelian Marxism  
Critical Theory  
Neo-Marxian Economic Sociology  
Historically Oriented Marxism  
Neo-Marxian Spatial Analysis  
Post-Marxist Theory  
CHAPTER 9 Symbolic Interactionism
The Major Historical Roots  
The Ideas of George Herbert Mead  
Symbolic Interactionism: The Basic Principles  
The Self and the Work of Erving Goffman  
The Sociology of Emotions  
The Future of Symbolic Interactionism  
CHAPTER 10 Ethnomethodology
Defining Ethnomethodology  
The Diversification of Ethnomethodology  
Some Early Examples  
Conversation Analysis  
Studies of Institutions  
Criticisms of Traditional Sociology  
Stresses and Strains in Ethnomethodology  
Synthesis and Integration  
CHAPTER 11 Exchange, Network, and Rational Choice Theories
Exchange Theory  
Network Theory  
Network Exchange Theory  
Rational Choice Theory  
CHAPTER 12 Contemporary Feminist Theory
Feminism’s Basic Questions  
Historical Framing: Feminism, Sociology, and Gender  
Varieties of Contemporary Feminist Theory  
Feminist Sociological Theorizing  
CHAPTER 13 Micro-Macro and Agency-Structure Integration
Micro-Macro Integration  
Agency-Structure Integration  
Agency-Structure and Micro-Macro Linkages: Fundamental Differences  
PART III From Modern to Postmodern Social Theory (and Beyond)
CHAPTER 14 Contemporary Theories of Modernity
Classical Theorists on Modernity  
The Juggernaut of Modernity  
The Risk Society  
The Holocaust and Liquid Modernity  
Modernity’s Unfinished Project  
Self, Society, and Religion  
Informationalism and the Network Society  
CHAPTER 15 Theories of Race and Colonialism
Fanon and the Colonial Subject  
Postcolonial Theory  
Critical Theories of Race and Racism  
Racial Formation  
A Systematic Theory of Race  
Southern Theory and Indigenous Resurgence  
CHAPTER 16 Globalization Theory
Major Contemporary Theorists on Globalization  
Cultural Theory  
Cultural Differentialism  
Cultural Convergence  
Cultural Hybridization  
Economic Theory  
Political Theory  
Other Theories  
CHAPTER 17 Structuralism, Poststructuralism, and Postmodern Social Theory
Postmodern Social Theory  
Criticisms and Post-Postmodern Social Theory  
CHAPTER 18 Social Theory in the Twenty-First Century
Queer Theory  
Actor-Network Theory, Posthumanism, and Postsociality  
Affect Theory  
Prosumption Theory  


Instructor Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

    • A 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 with preparation for lectures and class discussions.

Key features


  • Chapter 1 now includes a discussion of colonialism as one of the forces that shaped modern society.
  • The “Historical Sketch” chapters (Ch. 1 and Ch. 6) contain new material on the historical significance of early women founders, colonization, race theory, and on the contributions of W.E.B. Du Bois, as well as new timelines.
  • Chapters on Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Simmel now conclude with sections on contemporary applications of ideas from these 19th century thinkers.
  • The chapter on Simmel has been updated with recent English translations of his work on "life" (“lebensphilophie”).
  • A new chapter (Ch. 15) focuses on theories of race, racism, and colonialism, as well as theories about indigenous peoples and theories from the “Global South” that challenge the work of scholars from Europe and North America.
  • The concluding chapter has a new section on theories of prosumption, one of the newest developments in consumer theory. 


  • A clear, unbiased style of presenting sociological theory, which Ritzer's readers have come to expect, makes the text accessible to students.
  • The comprehensive approach covers all of the major schools of thought, as well as the key works and concepts associated with each.
  • Chronological organization allows for easy use of supplementary readers to enhance classroom discussion or to broaden students' understanding of theories and concepts.
  • Biographical boxes help students place sociological theories within a personal and social context.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2

Chapter 9

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